We all have different motivation for when it comes to learning a language. Most people make their decisions based on job opportunities, studying abroad, or even finding love. But what if you would learn a language for all the wrong reasons?

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Key Takeaways:

  • The choice of language often extends beyond practical reasons like job prospects, encompassing cultural interests and personal connections, as seen in the popularity of languages like English, Japanese, and Arabic in different regions.
  • The popularity of a language to learn is heavily influenced by cultural and regional factors, such as the high interest in Japanese in English-speaking countries and the strong preference for Arabic in Middle Eastern nations.
  • The languages people choose to learn mirror broader global trends, with English dominating due to its international use, while languages like Japanese and Arabic gain popularity for their cultural richness and regional significance.

Have you ever thought about what language is the most spoken in the world? Why do people gravitate towards English or Spanish? If the issue only lies behind job prospects, then why is Mandarin, a more challenging language for many, also gaining popularity? It’s not just about employment opportunities; it’s about connecting with a broader cultural and economic landscape. Learning popular languages opens doors to numerous countries and international forums, while those less spoken offer a gateway to understanding one of the world’s oldest civilizations and its growing global influence. The choice of language goes beyond mere practicality; it’s a bridge to understanding different cultures and participating in a globalized world, where communication is key to both personal and professional growth.

Obviously, we kind of all know where the priorities in language learning lie nowadays. In a study by Wordtips, it is revealed that English stands as the most sought-after language to learn in a remarkable 98 countries, showcasing its status as a global lingua franca. Interestingly, Japanese captivates learners in the English-speaking world, topping the list of most popular languages in countries like Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. In Ukraine, there’s a strong inclination towards learning the local language, with the highest rate of interest in Ukrainian, evidenced by 25.94 yearly searches per 1,000 internet users. Arabic, rich in history and culture, leads as the preferred language to study in 12 countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and several others in the Middle East, reflecting its regional significance and the cultural ties that bind these nations.

So, as you can see, although there are some common tendencies, everybody has their own reasons for learning a particular language. And it’s not wrong to have some fun with it.

Don’t Tell Me Who Your Friends Are, Tell Me What Language You Study

As it commonly happens, one of the Redditors decided to stir the pot and ask around why people decided to learn a certain language. In turn, they proposed to jokingly tell commenters the ‘real harsh truth’ behind that. Oh boy, were there some suggestions.

Spanish and English

The first two popular choices were our good old-time buddies – English and Spanish. Always breaking records and being so desired by millions of non-speakers, but do people study them with good intentions?

“You want to see all the world’s linguistic diversity disappear and you only learn English with the hopes of seeing it replace all other languages. You burn books in any other languages except English in your free time.”

“You are only interested in Spanish because it helps you exploit Mexican immigrants. You had built a firmly established network for your business of human trafficking and the feds started to take notice so you started to learn Albanian to make your exaggerated interest in Spanish less noticeable.”

German and French

Did you think we would miss German and French? No way! When you dive into learning German, you’re not just tackling a new language. It’s a language that’s at the heart of Europe, crucial for anyone looking to make a mark in the EU’s bustling business and academic scene. On the other hand, picking up French isn’t just about getting to know France and its famed arts and cuisine; it’s about connecting with a whole network of Francophone countries across the globe. Both languages offer a fantastic journey into the depths of European culture and a window to a more connected world.

“Nazi language! Do I really need to explain why you are basically Hitler?”

You obviously have no respect for your fellow human beings since you intend to contribute to the continued existence of the cancerous language known as Fr*nch.”

Arabic

Another highly popular language in the thread was Arabic. Learning Arabic opens a window to a rich and diverse cultural heritage, spanning centuries of literature, art, and history. As a language spoken by over 300 million people globally, it offers valuable opportunities for international communication, especially in the realms of business and diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa. But does the OP think so?

“You only want to learn Arabic so you can look down on anyone learning an easier language. You don’t have a passion for the language at all. You just saw it had a difficult alphabet and now you spend most of your time harassing people that study German or Spanish.”

“You are a sick person that desperately seeks the approval of dictators. You love to learn the languages of corrupt nations not because you sympathize with the ordinary people but because you admire the people oppressing them.”

The Most Unpopular Choices

Although not every language in the thread has a massive following of learners, the author still managed ‘to dunk’ on some answers. 

“You are drawn to Uzbekistan because of their flagrant disrespect for human rights. You want to learn the language so you can help the leaders carry out more arbitrary arrests and interfere with people’s religious freedom. You are also extremely condescending and constantly remind people that Uzbek is superior to all other languages (I mean you are technically not wrong but it’s still a dick move to shove it in people’s faces).”

“Do you just like to learn the 4th most popular of each Indo-European subgroup? Gonna learn Czech and Swedish next?”

“You obviously chose to study Palauan because the climate and geography of the Palau Islands make it susceptible to the terrible effects of climate change and you intend to use your language skills to exploit future climate refugees. And the only reason you’re learning any kind of sign language is that you have a sick obsession with torturing people and making them become deaf.”

How to Choose a Foreign Language to Study?

Choosing a foreign language to study can be an exciting yet challenging decision, as it opens up new worlds of culture, communication, and opportunities. When making this choice, consider several key factors to ensure that the language aligns with your interests, goals, and lifestyle.

Firstly, think about your motivation: are you learning for career advancement, cultural exploration, travel, or personal enjoyment? If career growth is your goal, languages which are widely used in global business might be ideal. For cultural and travel enthusiasts, choosing a language spoken in countries you’re fascinated by can enhance your experiences.

Secondly, consider the language’s practicality and your access to learning resources. Some languages might have more learning materials and community support available, which can be crucial for self-guided learners.

Thirdly, reflect on the difficulty level. Languages like Spanish and Italian might be easier for English speakers due to similarities in alphabets and grammar structures, while Mandarin or Arabic might present more of a challenge.

Lastly, think about the potential opportunities the language could open up. This includes not just job prospects but also cultural exchanges, friendships, and a deeper understanding of different worldviews.

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