The most useful languages for travellers to learn

The more you travel, the more you come to realise that speaking a foreign language is a definite advantage for you. After a while, pointing at other people’s food and miming things tends to get a bit old. If you do decide to tackle a new language, you might want to consider learning some of the following ones. 


Learning this language opens up the doors to 21 different countries. You can travel with ease from Mexico to the tip of South America. The most rewarding thing about learning Spanish is that you will actually have the opportunity to use it. You will encounter many people who don’t speak any English at all. Another bonus with Spanish is that it is fairly easy for English speakers to learn. The grammar is not too tricky and the sounds are all quite similar to English. 


Traveling in China can be quite an overwhelming experience. It is so very different to most western countries. Your trip there will be much easier if you can speak Chinese. There are a growing number of Chinese people that speak English, but you will not always find people who can help you out. Ordering a meal in a restaurant, asking for directions, taking a taxi or shopping can be quite difficult if you don’t know any Chinese. It is a fairly difficult language to learn, especially the writing, but your hard work will be repaid ten fold when traveling throughout China. 


Although not the global power house that it once was, French is still an extremely useful language to learn for travellers. There are 29 countries where French is the official language and due to France’s colonial influence, you will find French speakers in the most surprising places. The language is more difficult to learn than Spanish, but not nearly as complicated as Chinese. 


Arabic is used throughout Northern Africa all the way to the Middle East. What makes this language a little challenging is that you have to learn Standard Arabic as well as the particular dialect of where you want to travel. Moroccans find it difficult to understand Saudi Arabians and vice versa. If you do learn this language, you will be able to gain a much better insight into these fascinating countries. 


Similar to China, finding an English speaker in Russia can be quite challenging. If nothing else, travellers to Russia need to learn how to decipher the Cyrillic alphabet because you won’t find English letters anywhere. Another added bonus of learning this language is that it is used as the lingua franca all throughout the central Asian republics and former Soviet countries. 

Learning a new language can be daunting for some, but it will enrich your traveling experience so much. Try it and you will see just how rewarding it can be. 

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2 Responses

  1. The Dude says:

    I’d also add Brazilian Portuguese to this list! With the Brazilian impetus, we should be jumping on that bandwagon. Especially with all of the Olympic spectators and football fanatics.

    Very appropriate list!

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