Which Second Language Should A Traveler Learn?

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Knowing a second language is mighty useful when you are traveling. Communication is the base of all relationships. No doubt you’ll enjoy your travels a lot more if you can speak the local language to some degree. But which language should you learn? Let’s talk regions.


For you brothers that want to go to Africa, there are the regional languages such as Twi in Ghana or Wolof in The Gambia. Arabic is the dominant language in the northern African countries such as Egypt, Libya, or Morocco and extends to the Middle East.

Kiswahili is widely spoken in east African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda. Kiswahili is very popular and is relatively easy for an English speaker to learn. Some in the Pan-African Community consider Kiswahili to be the “official language” of Pan-Africans due to it’s vast regional usage.

Central & South America + The Caribbean

Spanish dominates this part of the world and besides English is probably the language most U.S born people are familiar with. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, but Spanish and English are taught in school


For an English speaker, Europe is relatively easy to navigate since many Europeans speak conversational English. French and German are also widely spoken in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and other parts of Europe. I’d say French would be the language of choice given its utility in Europe and Africa.


Compared to European Languages, Asian languages are considerably more difficult for a native English speaker to learn. But if you want to flex on someone, speaking Mandarin Chinese or Japanese will do it. Mandarin is spoken of course in China, but also in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Japanese is spoken in Japan and to a lesser degree Korea and Taiwan.

Additional Areas

Scandinavia (Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland). They all speak English in addition to their native language, and some speak it better than you.

India. Hindi is the official language but English is also used.

Russia. Russian is obviously dominates Russia and Ukraine. It is very difficult to learn. Fortunately many Russians speak English.

So which language to learn?

It really depends on the region you will frequent the most and your personal interests. The picks I have are based on their geographic range, number of learning resources, and your likelihood of usage outside of their dominant regions.

For Africa, Kiswahili seems to be the best choice of African Languages.

Arabic is very prevalent in northern Africa and in the Middle East.

French is by far the best European language to learn since it has a great geographic range in Europe and Africa.

The easiest for Americans is probably Spanish. There are classes in every state and many people in America speak Spanish as a first language.

For Asia, Chinese and Japanese are equal in my opinion. They share similarities in writing. Chinese speakers outnumber Japanese, but Japanese pop culture is more influential. This really comes down to whether which country you want to visit more. Both are tough languages.

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What Languages do you speak? Agree with the list? Leave a comment.

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