It would be fair to say that in 2018, and with every year that follows in the 21st century, the connections between different countries, societies and cultures becomes stronger and stronger, and what used to be completely out of an ordinary individual’s remit, is now decidedly less ‘foreign’ to them thanks in large part to the kinds of technological and cultural developments that have joined together nearly all of the far flung corners of the world.
With both multiculturalism and the opportunity for travel being bigger and better than at other time in history, it is now more important than ever for people to have at least some knowledge and understanding of languages other than own native tongue. It would be fair to argue that if civilisation continues to move in the direction it has been going for centuries, where world travel becomes increasingly easier and the ability to put down new roots in different areas of the world becomes increasingly common, then there will be more need than ever to have understanding and practical knowledge of secondary languages.
In order to maximise the effect of one’s learning, if one should decide that secondary language learning is a life decision that they would like to make, it makes logical sense to select languages that experts believe are going to become to dominant languages in world communication over course of the next few centuries. In essence, it would not benefit to spend one’s time perfecting a dying language like Latin, for example, when you could be putting your skills to better practice learning modern, progressive national tongues.
The first of these such languages is unequivocally Mandarin. This form of Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, with an estimated 955 million native speakers. This equates to more than 14% of the earth’s total population, and the numbers are only set to rise as the years go by. The Chinese economy is set to overtake the currently towering US economy by 2028, which might give us an idea of a timescale for when the language might become truly dominant.
The second that one might wish to learn is Arabic, currently the fourth most common language used online today. There is a drastic and clear to see fast growing market in the Middle East thanks to both oil and a burgeoning products industry, not to mention the fact that the Arabic speaking world continues to be a central part of the conversation regarding complicated political and social and cultural matters. Any individual who possesses the wherewithal to be able to learn a good degree of Arabic will put themselves in an excellent position for high end diplomatic job prospects in the near and distant future. According to the World Economic Forum, Arabic is the fifth most powerful language in the world.
Lastly, we come to a language that has always had a huge presence on a global stage, Spanish. One of only a few languages that is spoken broadly across numerous different continents, Spanish truly is a language that has the power the bring different cultures and communities together. There are roughly 405 million native speakers across the globe, and is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin. Spanish is seen as the key language of high growth markets such as Argentina, Colombia and Chile, as well as being the third most common language used on the Internet. The attractive element of learning Spanish as a secondary language over both Mandarin and Arabic is that, for a native English speaker, it is a much easier language to master in a much shorter space of time.