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Best Languages to Learn with Rosetta Stone

Read time - 4 minutes

Speaking a foreign language is never more exciting than when you’re travelling. Being able to talk to people you meet on the road is a joy, helping you to get closer to your destination and the people who call it home.

But what are the best languages to learn as a traveller?

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We asked language learning experts Rosetta Stone to find out. To help you get chatting away at the local bolero dance, ordering your next Cà phê đá with ease or bartering with confidence in the souk, here are the best languages for travellers to learn.

Best Languages for Travellers to Learn

1. Spanish (Spain)

Castile - La Mancha, Spain

After English, Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Europe. The great news about this beautiful language is that it is often considered one of the easiest to learn too.

Spanish is phonetic (you pronounce every syllable as it is written) and has fewer irregular verb conjugations than many other languages, meaning it is both useful and not too tricky.

Take me there: Spain holidays

2. French

Chateau de Chenonceau

Forget your school day woes; brush up on your French! Move beyond “Deux baguette s’il vous plait” and you’ll find the ‘language of love’ is a great addition to your travel tool belt, whether you’re in France itself or further afield in previous French colonial areas, where French is still widely spoken.

Plus, watching world-renowned French cinema is the perfect way to combine your new language skills with interesting, acclaimed foreign films.

Take me there: France trips

3. German

Castle Neuschwanstein, Bavaria

A fantastic language to get to grips with, German is simply good fun to learn.

There are lots of interesting vowel sounds to wrap your head around, along with being another language where you pronounce all the letters.

It also shares plenty of roots with English, so there’s even some familiarity with the vocabulary.

Take me there: Germany trips

4. Italian

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Cool café culture means one thing: snippets of overheard conversation.

Get a grasp of the basics then shamelessly snoop on local chit chat – you’ll get an insight into the area you’re in, and give a new dimension to people watching.

Whether it’s Tuscan grandmas swapping recipe ideas, toned lycra-clad cyclists taking an espresso break between the cols, or the locals watching the game on the Amalfi Coast, you can get a sneak peek into their day-to-day lives.

Take me there: Italy trips

5. Japanese

The sunset at Miyajima Island, Japan

It may be one of the trickiest on this list, with three different alphabets to contend with, but the Japanese language has one clear advantage: as a means of getting into Japanese culture, it’s difficult to beat.

You’ll be able to get into Japanese media, without anything mediated by an unknown translator – especially for those with an interest in anime, there is a wealth of movie and TV out there to engage with, as well as fantastic literature, both fiction and non-fiction.

Take me there: Japan tours

6. Spanish (Latin America)

Lady weaving in Mexico

For travellers headed to Southern and Latin America – and many parts of the USA too – speaking a little Latin Spanish is undeniably useful.

Spoken by millions of people all over the world, Spanish is the official majority language in no fewer than 21 countries worldwide and a commonly spoken language in even more.

There are lots of versions – Mexican Spanish is slightly different to Chilean Spanish and so on – but if it is versatility you’re looking for, Spanish delivers.

Take me there: South America trips

7. Arabic

Sunrise in the Wadi Rum, Jordan

Who wouldn’t want to speak Arabic? This lilting, musical language is the cornerstone of Arabic culture, and whilst it is undeniably quite an undertaking for native English speakers in terms of grammar, vocab and structuring, it’s a beautiful language to speak and converse in.

Plus, it’s sure to keep even the most adept language learner on their toes.

Take me there: Middle East trips

8. Mandarin Chinese

Beijing temple

For a challenge, Mandarin will stretch even a keen linguist. There’s a whole new alphabet to get stuck into, and the language is tonal, meaning you’ll need to keep an ear out for getting the perfect inflections to convey meaning.

It’s also good for anyone keen to get in some practice of their newly acquired language skills by studying menus as it’s a free pass to eat out at Chinese restaurants.

Take me there: China tours

9. Vietnamese

Flower seller in Vietnam

Another tonal language, Vietnamese, is an alternative way to stretch a language learner’s ability, but once mastered you’ll have a distinct advantage when you travel.

This not a language many westerners speak – so even with a few basic phrases under your belt you’ll stand out from the crowd, and the rewards for making a little more effort are huge.

Take me there: Trips to Vietnam

10. Greek

Delphi Temple

Around 25% of English has its origins tucked away in Greek, but it’s not a common choice for a second language.

Where Greek has the advantage is for anyone interested in Greek culture – and with fantastic food, rich history and some of the prettiest islands going, why wouldn’t you be interested?

Knowing a few phrases will help you make friends in the seafront watering holes and beautiful ports – without having to mime to make yourself understood.

Take me there: Greece trips

Regardless of where you’re headed, if you’re able to learn just one word you’ll be set up: whether it is merci, gracias, arigato, takk, dziekuje or shukran, a little word goes a long way.

Take a look at our tours below that will take you to each destination above.

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