Choosing which language to learn is the most important step of all. If you choose one you’re not all that interested in, then you’re more likely to give up. But deciding which language to learn can also be overwhelming. After all, there are over 6,500 different languages spoken around the world.
This article won’t tell you which language you should learn, but it will give you some key questions to ask yourself to help you work out which language to learn.
1️⃣ Which language/s do you already speak?
If you can read this without google translate then you already speak English.
Knowing different languages can make learning others easier. This is because different languages belong to different language families. Some of these families have very similar vocabulary and similar word orders.
For example, knowing English makes learning Spanish, and Norwegian (among other languages) easier. Whereas if you speak Polish, then other Slavic languages will be easier for you to learn.
2️⃣ Which language/s interest you?
Is there a language that you’ve heard of and thought “damn, that’s cool”?
Becoming fluent in a language can take anything from 600 hours to over 2,200 hours (we’re looking at you, Japanese). If you’re going to dedicate some serious time to learning a language over the next few months or even years you don’t want to force yourself to try to learn something you don’t want to.
At best it’ll frustrate you, at worst you’ll lose motivation and quit. So think about languages you might want to learn, and why you might want to learn them.
Do you see Sign Language interpreters on shows and wish you knew what they were saying? Add it to the list!
Do you look at the Pyramids and wish you could read the hieroglyphs? Add it to the list!
Does the thought of being able to order pizza in Italian (in Italy!) fill you with joy? Add it to the list!
Languages that interest me
Interesting language (1 per row)
3️⃣ Can you find learning resources?
They can be books, songs, podcasts, conversation groups.. your imagination is the limit!
For example, if you’re interested in Hindi, you might want to include Bollywood films as a resource.
Whereas if you’re interested in just learning to read and write a language, you might search for a penpal or a book aimed at beginners.
4️⃣ Which language do you want to use in the future?
Bearing in mind how easy it is to find resources, look back at the list you made for question 2.
Which of those languages interests you most? Will you actually be able to study it?
Don’t worry, you’re not signing up to only learn that language for the rest of your life!
For example, I spent a year studying at a university in the South-East of France (Université de Provence ftw!). When I arrived there, I heard that the region had a language spoken by a million people which the university offered courses in. You only live once, and I thought that learning the regional language (called Provencal) in Provence would be the coolest thing since ice bars. I enrolled in 4 classes and proceeded to have the time of my life learning it for one year.
If I had not been so excited to learn Provencal, I wouldn’t have been inspired to learn so much of it. When I returned home, I stopped studying the language as I had achieved what I’d set out to do.
Pick your language of choice:
5️⃣ Well done! You’ve chosen which language you want to learn
Not happy with your choice? Go through steps 1-4 again!
There’s no limit on the number of times you can go through these steps to work out which language you most want to learn!
Good luck to you. If you start learning a language after reading this, please tweet me on I really would love to hear about your language learning adventures :)