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What Language Should You Learn?

What Language Should You Learn?

Every once in a while, we have students asking us what additional language they should learn. I’ve struggled with this myself when I started to become more interested in expanding my language base. The top languages I wanted to learn were Spanish, French, and Mandarin.

It wasn’t until I booked a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina, that I forced myself to learn how to speak Spanish. Throughout this quest of figuring out what language I should learn, I’ve had some time to research what the language experts have to say about this, and I want to share my two cents with you today.

While I can’t tell you which language you should learn, I’m going to share with you some criteria to consider in order to help making the decision easier for you.

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Most Number Of Speakers Shouldn’t Be Your Only Criteria

Sure, you’ll probably want to pick a popular language such as Spanish, French, or Mandarin that a good portion of the world speaks, but beyond that, it should be more than just the number of speakers you can reach.

There are twice as many Mandarin speakers than Spanish speakers, but does that make Mandarin a more important language to learn? Not at all.

Looking At ‘Most Speakers’ In Terms Of Making A Decision Sometimes Comes Down To Nothing More Than Ego. You Get More ‘Points’ For The Bigger Number.

Even If You Go Live In The Country, You’ll Be Unlikely To Visit More Than A Handful Of Towns And Come Across The Same Number Of Speakers As You Would In Any Other Country.
Benny Lewis, Fluentin3months.com

Already Speak A Similar Language?

This can be a strategic criteria to consider if your sole goal is to learn another language as fast as possible. For example, learning how to speak Spanish is a lot easier if you already know how to speak English. However, learning Mandarin can be slightly tricky because of the difference in the sentence structure, syntax, grammar, and many other components of the language.

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    Consider A New Language Like A New Sport.

    There Are Certain Physical Prerequisites (Height Is An Advantage In Basketball), Rules (A Runner Must Touch The Bases In Baseball), And So On That Determine If You Can Become Proficient At All, And—If So—How Long It Will Take.

    Languages Are No Different. What Are Your Tools, And How Do They Fit With The Rules Of Your Target?
    Tim Ferriss, Bestselling Author Of The Four-Hour Workweek

    Best For Your Resume?

    Knowing how to speak a foreign language is certainly an asset in the eyes of any employer. It’s become more of a prerequisite today since so many people speak a foreign language. In our opinion the context is more important.

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    Knowing how to speak Spanish can be a great asset if you’re living in Europe, but it may be completely useless if you’re looking to work in Asia. You may be in a job that doesn’t require knowing a second language right now (although it’s always good to be prepared).

    How Will You Actually Use The Language?

    So… the answer to your question: “What language should I learn?” It depends. Instead of asking “What language should I learn?”, we encourage you to ask yourself: “How will I actually use the language?” Are you planning to travel to Europe this summer? Are you looking for a new job opportunity that may require you to work with foreign people? Do you just love languages or want to explore another culture? Asking yourself this question will save you a boat load of time, energy, and money, as the last thing you want to do is change your mind later after you’ve made such investments.

    Learning a new language is one of the most exciting journeys you can go on but it’s no easy task. Having a deeply-rooted purpose in learning a new language and knowing how you plan to use it will help you go miles further than learning for the sake of learning. I hope this helped clarify your thinking process when it comes to answering your own question of “what language should I learn?” You’re about to embark on an eventful journey no matter what language you decide to learn. I look forward to hearing how it goes!

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    More by this author

    Sean Kim

    Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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    Last Updated on July 3, 2020

    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

    In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

    1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

    Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

    2. Focus on your breath

    Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

    3. Get organized and purge old items

    A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

    4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

    Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

    5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

    Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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    6. Smile more

    Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

    7. Don’t worry about the future

    As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

    8. Eat real food

    The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

    9. Choose being happy over being right

    Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

    10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

    Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

    11. Make use of filtering features on social media

    You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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    12. Get comfortable with silence

    When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

    13. Listen to understand, not to respond

    So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

    14. Put your troubles in a bubble

    Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

    15. Speak more slowly

    Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

    16. Don’t procrastinate

    Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

    17. Buy a coloring book

    Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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    18. Prioritize yourself

    You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

    19. Forgive others

    Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

    20. Check your expectations

    Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

    21. Engage in active play

    Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

    22. Stop criticizing yourself

    The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

    23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

    Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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    24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

    Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

    25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

    Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

    26. Manage your money

    Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

    27. Stop trying to control everything

    Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

    28. Practice affirmations

    Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

    29. Get up before sunrise

    Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

    30. Be yourself

    Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

    Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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