No matter the season, it’s never too early to get started on a New Year’s resolution. One of the most popular and enduring resolutions is to learn a new language. And as it becomes increasingly easy to connect with people around the globe (it really is a small world after all), there’s never been a better time to double your communicational capacity. But, what language should you start learning?
Fortunately for you, we’ve made it easy with this handy language flowchart! Although well over 6,000 identified languages exist today, we’ve narrowed it down to 12 great options. Find out what language is your best bet, including English, Spanish, Italian, French, Mandarin, Russian, Swahili, Arabic, Hindi, and Japanese. Or, if you prefer a more offbeat experience, why not try your hand at more outlandish options like Pig Latin or Elvish?
All you have to do is follow the flowchart symbols to find out what language you should start learning. You don’t have to stop at just one — this might be the first step on your journey to becoming a true polyglot!
How to choose which language to learn
Learning a language is a big challenge that requires months (or years) of commitment. So, whether it’s your second, third, fourth, or fifth language, you’ll get the hang of it faster if you’re really enthusiastic about achieving this goal. Our language flowchart is a great starting point, but if you’re still on the fence, we can help. Answer these five questions to figure out the best language to learn.
1. Which languages are common in your area?
Expanding your ability to communicate with more people in your community is one of the best reasons to broaden your linguistic range. Not only does this allow you to learn about other cultures, but it can also improve your job prospects. If you live in a multicultural area, consider learning a language that’s spoken locally. You’ll find it easier to strengthen your speaking and listening skills when there are plenty of people to help you practice.
2. Are you planning to travel?
Are you planning a trip abroad that’s still several months away? Use the time leading up to your travels to learn the basics of a new language. Since you’re probably excited about an overseas vacation, you’re more likely to stay motivated to learn. Having a bigger purpose also provides context for where to focus your efforts. After all, you want to master essential skills, such as ordering at restaurants, asking for directions, and introducing yourself.
3. What places or cultures do you find interesting?
Even if you aren’t planning a trip anytime soon, exploring another culture can be rewarding all on its own. Make a list of foreign locations you’ve always wanted to visit or languages and cultures that fascinate you. Do you notice any patterns? For example, if many of the languages that interest you come from similar cultures or geographic locations, narrow your list to focus on that area.
4. How much time do you have?
If you’re just learning a language for fun, then you probably don’t need to rush. But if you have limited time to practice or want to become semi-fluent as fast as possible, choose a language you can pick up quickly. New languages are easier to learn when they’re similar to your native tongue in syntax, phonetics, grammatical structure, and root words.
5. Are you inspired by specific sub-cultures?
Oftentimes, we’re motivated to learn a niche language to connect with people over shared interests or special needs. Fictional languages from pop culture, for instance, are fun to learn because only the most loyal fans dedicate themselves to the task.
Other subgroups include people with disabilities. Around the world, there are more than 60 officially recognized forms of sign language and hundreds of niche variations. As more hearing people learn sign language, they make the world a more accessible and inviting place for their hearing-impaired peers.
Like any skill, mastering a language takes dedication, practice, and willingness to think in new ways. By choosing a language that’s of personal interest to you, you increase your chances of staying focused and building fluency.
Along the way, you can use visual aids to help you understand foreign language concepts. Diagrams make it easy to organize everything from vocabulary to verb tenses, so you can create a system for retaining new information.
Cacoo is a great tool for all your simple diagramming and layout needs. Whether you love brainstorming with mind maps or outlining a process with flowcharts, get started creating something professional (or pure fun) with Cacoo.
This post was originally published on November 24, 2020, and updated most recently on February 25, 2022.