How I Choose What Language to StudyTotal read time: 3 minutes

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
~Nelson Mandela

Choosing a language can be quite a daunting task for many. So much so, that many will over think it to the point of analysis-paralysis.

There are a lot of opinions and a lot of advice out there these days when it comes to choosing which language you should study.Sure, look at the list of the most spoken languages on Wikipedia

choosing a language list of languages by native speakers

Languages by Native Speakers

or you can look at what is the major second language near where your live. Or we can just throw a coin in the air.


I’ve always disregarded all of the “practical” advice for choosing a language to study and instead have had a strong why for my reason to undertake a new language.
What is a why? Well, if someone was to ask me “Why are you studying…” my answer my why.

My why the foremost reason for choosing a language.

Why to have a why?

  1. Motivation
  2. Goal Planning
  3. Strong Foundation

These 3 reasons are the top three that I reflect on. If I just randomly started studying a language, which I’ve done in the past, then the fire tends to just fizzle out very quickly.

Sure you can definitely have fun with a language without having a strong why. You can absolutely start learning a language without a clear plan or reason. You’ll still learn several words, make some friends, and get some sense of accomplishment. However, in my experience, unless I’ve eventually developed and wrote down my why, my reason(s), for studying my target language. Then I’m not going far.


Do you like Japanese anime?
How about Spanish music?
Travel plans for France?

Have fun! And loads of it! Many times we forget the actual use of a language when we’re choosing a language. We get caught up in the idea of having to take a language test, learn grammar, joining a language course, or buying expensive language learning software.

But we forget that we are learning the great communication tool known to man.
Words. Language. Talking.
We are learning, desiring, to communicate with another fellow human being on this lovely planet.

Personally, almost all of my language was due to travel plans.
“What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages?”
“What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages?”
“What do you call a person who speaks 1 language?”
“No. American”

I did not want to be “that guy” or in this case “that American.”

This has always been a nice strong motivation for me to study a new language before traveling to a new country I’m visiting.

Then I got the benefit of not being tricked or overcharged by vendors. I could more easily make a connection with a native speaker by using their native tongue. And I’d get a nice happy feeling from the praise all the nice natives give you.

Just Do It

I am a linguaphile. Learning a new langauge is such a fun and rewarding experience that I tend to just start without overthinking it to much.

If you want to speak Afrikaans, then study it. Don’t let others bring you down.

Once I’ve gotten my language chosen. I would look for resources to follow my steps for learning a foreign language

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