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Why You Should Learn A Foreign Language

World Map          As a linguist, I am biased, but I think it’s a fair statement to say that speaking foreign languages is a highly desirable trait in today’s globalised and ever-more-connected world.

         A lot of people would like to speak a foreign language, but only 5.5% of Britons actually do. It’s the classic story – we’d like to speak another language, but why bother, when “everyone speaks English anyway”. FALSE.

❝To have another language is to possess a second soul.❞ – Charlemagne

         There are almost 7 billion people in this world, 375 million of which speak English as a first language, with another 1 billion people who speak it as a foreign language. But this still leaves a huge 5.6 billion people who speak no English whatsoever. That’s 80% of the world with whom you have no way of communicating. In an era where expanding one’s “network” (be that through Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) is all-important, the usefulness of speaking another language is a no-brainer.

There are of course lots of other reasons why you might want to speak another language:

  1. perhaps because you like the sound of the language…
  2. perhaps because you want to move abroad…
  3. perhaps because you think it’ll make you more employable (you are correct there!)…
  4. perhaps because you fancy someone from another country and want to impress them…
  5. perhaps because you want people to stop treating you like a typical tourist when you travel abroad…

         So we’ve established that learning a foreign language can only be a good thing. And if you’re still not convinced…. then consider the fact that people who use their languages in their jobs earn on average 8% more than those who don’t.

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” – Frank Smith

         But now how do you go about choosing which language to learn? Each week I’m going to profile one of the top ten most spoken languages in the world, giving you the what, the why and the how.

Next week I’ll be profiling the No.1 most spoken language in the world: Mandarin Chinese.


  1. Great post! I couldn’t agree with you more. Those stats are really interesting, most English speakers are blind to the fact that English is NOT the most spoken language in the world.

    Also, I love your blog, we’re very similar! Can’t wait to read your next post on Mandarin Chinese. Cheers!


      • I hadn’t heard of French Flashcards, but will definitely try it out. Merci, Virginia! What languages do you speak? We just visited an English class in Croatia yesterday. I was impressed that the kids start learning English in 1st grade, then an additional language a year or two later. I wish more American schools would start having children learn a language at a younger age.


      • Wow that’s impressive! I started learning French at that age but I was just lucky that my parents were very keen on languages, as it’s not the norm in the UK either. Here sadly it isn’t compulsory to study any language, although it should be! I speak Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, intermediate French & (very) beginners Russian. You?


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  3. Reblogged this on Worldly Minded and commented:
    This is the first post in a series looking at the Top 10 most spoken languages in the world, giving information on why each language is useful and how to go about learning it. If you’re trying to choose which is the language to learn for you, then take a look and it may help you decide!


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