10 Most Useful Languages to Learn (And Boost Your Career)

10 Most Useful Languages to Learn (And Boost Your Career)

While learning a language can be an interesting mental exercise and fun way to learn more about other cultures, an extra language can also be a very useful skill that can help you get ahead in life.

When trying to decide what language to learn, even more important than knowing what the easiest languages to learn are or what are the hardest languages to learn, is figuring out what language is the most useful for you to learn.

What do we mean when we say a language is useful?

“Useful” is a variable term. How useful a language really is to learn depends a lot on your circumstances and your personal reasons for wanting to learn a language.  There are, however, a few factors that can be used to quantify “usefulness”.

To determine how useful it would be for you to learn a specific language, ask yourself the following questions.

1. How many people speak the language?

The most important reason to learn a language is because you desire to be able to communicate with people. As such, one big factor to determining which are the most useful languages to learn would be to look at how many people in the world are native speakers or how many people speak that language as a second language.

2. Where is that language spoken?

This is an important consideration if you are looking for the best language to learn for jobs or for educational purposes. If you want to live and work in a particular country or region, it’s best to learn the lingua franca of that area. This can also be a consideration if you want to spend a lot of time traveling in a particular geographic region. 

3. Why do you want to learn the language?

Language learning for learning’s sake, because it’s a language you’ve always wanted to learn or you just think it sounds beautiful or is used by a culture you're interested in, are perfectly valid reasons to learn. 

But if you are trying to determine how useful a language will be for you to learn, you need to identify the specific reason WHY you want to learn.

A language is useful if you can use it to get ahead in your life’s goals. If you’ve always dreamed of traveling to South America, a language that will be useful to learn would be one that is commonly spoken in the region. If you are a law student who is thinking of going abroad, you will want to learn one of the most useful languages to learn for law. If you are a medical doctor thinking of joining international medical missions, you want to look into the most useful languages to learn for medicine.

If you give some thought as to why you think you need to learn a language that is actually the best gauge to determine which among the most useful languages to learn is the one that will be most personally useful for you.

10 Useful Languages To Learn

Here are some languages that are usually considered useful to learn by the experts. Most of them are useful because of the number of people who speak them. A lot are considered useful for those traveling to specific regions. Take a quick look and try and figure out if any of these would be useful for you to learn.

1. English

If you are looking for a language that is spoken by a large number of people and used in many areas of the world, English is one of the best languages to learn. It is the global lingua franca, the third most-spoken native language in the world, and an official language in 60 sovereign states. 

If you decide that English is the most useful language for you to learn, you are in good company. English is the most commonly studied second language. It is also one of the best languages to learn for business, as many international companies require employees to know English.

English is also the most widely used language in media and publishing around the world. English terms are often used in the STEM fields so it is an important language to learn if you want to make headway in those fields. 

2. Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is often referred to as “Standard Chinese” as it is one of the most common Chinese languages, it is also the most common first language in the world. There are around 918 million speakers of Mandarin Chinese in the world, with around 200 million speaking it as a second language. 

Mandarin Chinese is considered one of the best languages to learn for business, given China’s standing as one of the biggest emerging economies in the world. It is also an official language of the business hub of Singapore and one of the most common languages learned by people of Chinese descent.

3. Spanish

Spanish was a former lingua franca and though it might not have as many language speakers today as it did when the Spanish Empire was at its height, it’s still a common language all over the globe and an important business language

Spanish has about 463 million people all over the world who consider it their first language. This makes it the second most common first language, after Mandarin Chinese and before English.

Spanish is the fourth-most spoken language in the world, if we include those who call it their second language.  All in all, around 537.9 million people speak Spanish as either their first or second language.

If you are thinking of living or working in Europe, Spanish is a useful language to learn as it is an official language of the European Union.  It is also the official language of 18 countries and one territory in what is North and South America.  It is still a common language in former Spanish territories in Africa, Asia, and Oceana. 

4. Portuguese

Portuguese may only be the sixth most common first language in the world, but it is the third-most spoken European language in the world by number of first-language speakers.

If you are looking to conduct business in South American, Portuguese is a useful language to learn. It is also a useful language for business in Latin America as it is the second-most spoken language in the region after Spanish.

If you are looking to travel in Africa, you might also consider learning Portuguese as it is one of the 10 most spoken languages in the region. 

All in all, around 270 million people all over the globe can speak Portuguese, with around 215 million considering it their native language.

5. Russian

The reason behind Russian being an important business language to learn is similar to the reason why Mandarin Chinese is good to learn. Russia is a fast growing economy with a lot of business opportunities.

Russia is considered the largest native language in Europe and there are also a lot of Russian speakers in the Eurasian region. There are an estimated 258 million people who speak Russian all over the world and it is the seventh-most common first language in the world. 

6. Japanese

Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn, but it is also a useful language to learn – especially if you want to live or work in Japan.

Japan is the national language of Japan and the first language of a majority of the population. Most Japanese use this language in their daily lives as well as in business and legal procedures. While English is a common second language in Japan, often taught in schools, it isn’t used as much and fluency is not guaranteed.

Given as Japan is a business hub and the world’s third largest economy, it is well worth your time to learn to speak it Japanese.

7. Arabic

If you want to travel, live, or work in the Arab World – countries in Western Asia and North Africa – Arabic is the most useful language to study. Arabic is the sixth most spoken language in the world with around 280 million speakers. 

Arabic is the lingua fraca and the official language in 26 states of the Arab world. Arabic is also the language of Islam, so if you are curious about the Islamic faith and the history and culture of Islam, learn Arabic.

8. Hindi

Hindi is an official language in India and their lingua franca. India is a big country with a fast growing economy and many business opportunities, so if you are thinking of working here, Hindi is a useful language to learn. 

Hindi is the fourth most spoken first language in the world with 322 million counting it as their first language.

9. German

Aside from, of course, being the national and official language of Germany this is the most widely spoken first language in the European Union. It is also the 13th most common native language in the world.

Given as Germany is the third-largest economy in the world, it is a great place to go if you are looking to work or do business in Europe. There are also several good educational centers in Germany, making it a popular destination for further studies, especially in the technological and engineering fields. It would be useful to know how to speak German before going here to find work or take up your studies.

10. French

French is the 5th most spoken language in the world with around 276.6 million speakers. It is the third most common second language in the world with 199.3 million who studied and became fluent in French.

 Around 40% of the world’s French speakers live in Europe, but there are also sizable populations of French speakers, both native and second language speakers, in sub-saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

In the European Union, French is the fourth most widely spoken native language. It is also a pretty common second language and the second most taught foreign language.


The usefulness of the language has a great deal to do with where you will be traveling to. In order to decide what language would be the most useful for you to study, you need to do some research and determine what is the most common language in the area.

A good rule of thumb is to look at what is the native language of the country or territory. If you are traveling for business, however, you should focus more on what the official language is as that is what will be the language of business and trade. Understanding and being able to communicate in the official language will also help you in your dealings with government officials or the legal system.

Language teachers will tell you that you will learn a language quicker if you are interested in it. Your interest will give you the motivation to buckle down and really learn. So determining what language you will be able to really use in your travels or business dealings is useful because it can help motivate you.

If you’re interested in becoming fluent in a new language, check out these top online learning resources: Kick off your learning with Babbel, where interactive, enjoyable lessons are designed to blend smoothly into your routine, fostering fast and effective language learning. For those aiming for an in-depth understanding, Udemy provides a broad spectrum of courses from basic to advanced levels. To enhance your speaking skills, Preply connects you with native speakers for personalized coaching, ensuring significant improvement. Take advantage of a 50% discount on your first lesson at Preply with this link.

What are the most useful languages to learn?

The most useful languages to learn are English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, German and French.

What are the most useful languages to learn for business?

The most useful languages to learn for business are Chinese, English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Russian, German and Portuguese.

Which languages is most needed?

English is considered the most needed language as it's one of the most popular languages in the world.

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