Editor’s note: This article is part of our Meaningful Travel Forecast series and official travel report for 2019. ☆ Why not open up doors for yourself? From accessing new job opportunities to making new connections to exploring travel opportunities, give yourself the gift that keeps on giving by learning a foreign language abroad. Not to mention the fun you’ll have from visiting landmarks, experiencing adventurous activities, and trying delicious dishes! Whether you’re interested in learning a romance language, a European language, or an Eastern language, you’ll be expanding your global perspectives in a meaningful way.
Read the GoAbroad Official Report on the 10 Best Foreign Languages to Learn Abroad in 2019
Ziplining over the rainforests in Costa Rica, oohing and awing at Machu Picchu, and sunbathing on the sun-kissed coasts of Spain — that could be you while learning Spanish! With Spanish being the second most commonly spoken language in the world and valuable to business deals, it’s a top pick for the most demanded foreign language to learn. While learning any language can be difficult, language experts rank Spanish as one of the easiest languages to pick up for English learners. ¡Chévere!
With intense, immersive studying, you’re well on your way to being able to speak to anyone in the world. Programs offer short-term or long-term sessions, but six months is recommended. Spanish language programs are available for all ages, for private or group sessions, and at language institutes, camps, homestays, or universities. Learn the tango, eat tropical fruits at the markets, or volunteer with children, all while gaining Spanish acquisition.
- GoAbroad’s program pick: Maximo Nivel
- Traveler’s program pick: Habla Ya Spanish Immersion in Panama City, Bocas del Toro, & Boquete
From Canada to France to Switzerland to Morocco, a variety of immersive settings are available to study up the language of fashion, philosophy, and romance. More than 220 million people speak French, and as the language of international relations, you’ll have that je ne sais pas factor that companies are looking for. Program variations include summer language camps, homestay programs, and intense language courses at a university or institute.
Durations range from 4 weeks to a year or more, but long-term programs will provide you the most value for higher language acquisition. Most programs offer private lessons, group lessons, or you could choose hands-on experiential settings by volunteering, interning, or working. Even better — surfing the coasts, playing soccer, or touring art galleries as part of the program will help give your brain a break while inheriting the language. Ooh la la!
- Traveler’s program pick: ELFI – Ecole de Langue Francaise et d’Informatique
An immersive language experience in France is highly valuable to young people today, as more than 220 million people speak French on five continents. After English, French comes in second as the most widely learned foreign language. Speaking both French & English is a great advantage in the international job market. —Jennifer Wright, SAI
Japanese might not spring to mind when you think of one of the best languages to learn abroad, but with over 125 million speakers, and Japan is a strong economic force in science and technology, knowing Japanese comes in handy. An array of Japanese program options are available from language institutions to private tutors to homestay placements and more. Many programs offer cultural excursions, internships to gain work experience, and even language exchange partners.
Tokyo offers students an immersive experience with a standard dialect and modern skyscrapers, but rural areas on the islands offer a small-town feel with friendly people and beautiful surroundings. Six-week courses are the most common. However, Japanese challenges students with its characters and script, so longer programs will benefit learners the most. Learn how to create sushi, try on a kimono, wave to Hello Kitty, and practice your favorite karaoke tunes by learning Japanese abroad!
- GoAbroad’s program pick: KCP International Japanese Language School
- Traveler’s program pick: Seasonal Japanese Course in Hokkaido, Japan
Italian — the language of Romeo and Juliet, classical music, fashion and art, culinary dishes, and top economic brands. With thousands of American firms doing business with Italians, you can’t go wrong with this Romance language. Italian is more difficult to learn than Spanish, but the most phonetic sounds and verb tenses resembling English will make it easier to pick up with lots of practice. You’ll most likely tap into a side you didn’t know existed with Italian’s expressive nonverbal gestures as well!
Italian semester study abroad, summer programs, language institutes, and homestay placements are the most common types of programs available. Italian cities for studying are popular, but you could study in Sicily or Switzerland for a different take at one of its world language schools. Whether you’re a teenager or a senior citizen, programs cater to many different audiences. Explore the Pantheon, visit the vineyards, and sip on a cappuccino with an Italian program!
- Traveler’s program pick: Istituto Europeo – Learn Italian in Florence
China will soon outrank the United States in GDP with its powerful economic goods and numerous goods. If you’re looking for which foreign language has more job opportunities, Mandarin displays itself as one of the best languages to learn. After English, it’s the most demanded foreign language thanks to its 1 billion speakers. 哇 (Wow!). If the mainland of China isn’t your cup of green tea, the beautiful lands of Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong also offer exciting Mandarin language learning experiences.
With Mandarin being one of the most challenging languages to learn, it’s best to select a long-term program to learn the thousands of characters and tough pronunciation. However, short-term express programs are available for those on the go. Depending on your goals, you could take business Mandarin courses, earn a degree while learning Mandarin abroad, live with a host family as an au pair, or take private or group courses at language institutions. Experience the Eastern culture while learning Mandarin!
- Traveler’s program pick: Chinese Language Institute
Knowing Portuguese will give you a leg up in science, education, trade, and diplomacy. Brazil boasts the largest economic market in Latin America, and with English not being common among them, you’ll get further with Portuguese. Plus, Portuguese is basically a cousin of Spanish, and it’s a good base to learn other Romance languages. While easier among most languages, it’s still água pela barba (takes work) and long-term programs are more advantageous.
From Portugal to Brazil to Mozambique, all three offer language schools abroad, various dialects, and ocean breezes while picking up the poetic language among the locals. Language schools, university courses, and immersion programs are the most common types, and they’re usually flexible and customizable with cultural tours and hands-on learning. Other choices include homestay programs and ESL teaching with language learning. Learn the moves of capoeira, SCUBA dive into coral landscapes, and explore colonial architecture with a Portuguese language program abroad.
- Traveler’s program pick: Learn Portuguese & Practice Yoga with GoBrazil
Arabic is another best language to learn that answers the question: Which foreign language offers the most job opportunities? If you’re interested in diplomacy, intelligence, refugee work, or business opportunities in general, Arabic wears the gauntlet for the most potential. With Arabic language schools abroad available in northern Africa, the Middle East, and southwest Asia, you’ll discover a variety of options. Learn Arabic among the pyramids in Egypt, the ornate mosques in Morocco, or the holy sites in Palestine.
With Arabic having dozens of dialects, right-to-left script, and little in common with English, it’s a challenge to learn, so be sure to find a program that offers Modern Standard Arabic to cover your bases. While short-term programs are an option and summer courses are available, long-term programs are recommended to grasp Arabic’s nuances. Language institutes, universities, and private homestay programs are all among your pick as well.
- Traveler’s program pick: American University of Beirut
Imagine learning a foreign language that’s so important it practically guarantees future success. Arabic is spoken by over 300 million people globally in more than twenty Arabic speaking countries on the planet. So if you’re considering living abroad, Arabic fluency means plenty of super cool places to choose from in 2019.—Kaylan Reid Shipanga,
A big player in the economic world and global affairs, knowing Korean will give you an edge in the job market. The foreign symbols may look difficult, but you can learn the Korean Hangeul alphabet in a mere couple of hours. The pronunciation is straightforward and with no gender nouns nor intonations, Korean is an attainable language to learn. Korea is the best place to learn the language, especially with its stunning shrines, temples, and coasts.
Koreans are generally friendly and eager to exchange languages with you, so grab a hold of those opportunities. Seasonal immersion programs, language schools, private homestay programs, and university courses provide you with intense instruction in an immersive environment. While Korean has some easy aspects to it, learning Korean may take some time and long-term programs of more than a few months will benefit you the most. Dance to some K-pop music, learn to make kimchi, and take a 셀카 (selfie) at Jeju Island!
- Traveler’s program pick: GoGo Hankuk
You can’t go wrong learning the language of arts and music in Germany, Switzerland, or Austria — just keep in mind the various dialects and stay true to practicing German among native speakers. Germany boasts the largest economy in the European Union and with more than 100 million speakers, it’s no wonder it’s one of the best foreign languages to learn. Program duration options vary from a week to more than a year, but six months is recommended to be proficient thanks to English being a Germanic language.
From the gorgeous castles to the countryside villages to the sweeping alps, the surroundings offer stunning views. University courses and language schools are the most common, but homestay placements, short-term camps, and exchange programs are also available. The common local festivals, foods, and fun will give you a chance to practice German among the locals on a regular basis. Prost!
- Traveler’s program pick: German Language Courses at Heidelberg – Collegium Palatin
As my old camp counselor used to say: Monolingualism can be cured!—Megan Lee, Meaningful Traveler & International Educator
The Russian economy continues to grow each year and knowing Russian will provide you with an advantage in business and global affairs. As the eighth most common language in the world, you’ll most likely meet people who speak Russian everywhere you travel. Not only that, but many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia also speak Russian! The Cyrillic script and grammar case system makes Russian more difficult to learn than other languages, but hey, В час по чайной ложке (one teaspoon at a time).
Most programs take place in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but Ukraine and Latvia are also popular options. Homestay placements, language schools, study abroad options at universities, and internships with language classes are the most common types to learn one of the best languages to learn abroad. The onion-domed churches, tasty Russian dumplings, and fascinating folklore make for a one-of-a-kind cultural experience. Study Russian abroad to unveil the layers of the language like a nesting doll!
- Traveler’s program pick: Liden & Denz Intercultural Institute of Languages St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Riga
Next steps to book foreign language schools abroad
Here are a handful of resources to get you started on your very own language learning journey. 2019 could be YOUR year to travel—and we can help make it happen! Get free program recommendations that match your travel goals, or use MyGoAbroad to bookmark and compare program options with confidence.
Still hungry for more? Bookmark these bad boys:
Language Study Inspiration
- 10 Best Ways to Learn a New Language
- Understanding the Types of Language Programs Abroad
- Why is it Important to Learn a Second Language?
School/Course Selection Advice
- Tips to Choose the Right Language School Abroad
- How to Compare & Evaluate Study Abroad Programs
- Short & Sweet Summer Immersion Programs
Covering the Costs & Paying for Language Classes Abroad
- Ways to Get Funding for Study Abroad
- Languages that Will Get You HIRED And Where to Learn Them
- The Cheapest Places to Study Spanish
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The ironic part? Learning a language abroad can sometimes leave you speechless.
Learning any of these languages will take some practice and dedication, and it might be overwhelmingly exciting to choose among GoAbroad’s list of the best foreign language to learn abroad. All in all, Mandarin is the best language to learn because of its growing economy and number of language speakers. Spanish and Arabic are next for the top spots for the best language to learn abroad because of the sheer demand and job opportunities for them.
Without a doubt, participating at one of the world language schools while immersing yourself abroad will elevate your connection with the country, culture, and citizens in ways you never thought possible. With a strong motivation and passion for the language of your choosing, you’ll be making a decision that will benefit you for the rest of your life in a meaningful way.
This article was originally published by – Published November 15, 2018, Foreign Language Abroad
Featured Image Credits: Pixabay