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This Interactive Map Shows the Benefits of Learning a Second Language

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Do you know how many languages are spoken across the world? Our interactive language map highlights the vast array of languages, as we can sometimes be guilty of expecting foreign countries to speak English when we visit.

Our research shows that just 12 out of the 50 most popular tourism destinations have over 50% English speaking populations. This tells us that if we plan to travel, we should look into learning the language of our destination. However, research from The European Commission shows that the UK is the worst country in the EU when it comes to learning a second language.

Most Popular Languages Across The Globe

Our interactive map shows the top three languages that are spoken within the top 50 most popular destinations across the globe:

Just 8 countries speak English as their first language (including the UK and the US), and 28 countries speak English as a second language.

Countries with the highest % of English speakers:

  1. Ireland                           98%

  2. United Kingdom            93%

  3. Netherlands                   89%

  4. Norway                           83%

  5. United States                 77%

  6. Australia                         74%

  7. Israel                             72%

  8. Canada                           56%

  9. Switzerland                    54%

  10. Vietnam                          54%

  11. Germany                         54%

  12. Greece                           53%

37 countries have populations with less than 50% English speakers, and 10 countries (including China, Cuba, and Morocco) do not include English in their top three spoken languages.

The 5 most popular languages spoken:

  1. Spanish (and variations)

  2. English

  3. Arabic (and variations)

  4. Portuguese

  5. German

Why should you learn another language?

Firstly, learning any new skill can be fun, exciting and give you a boost of motivation and energy. Languages are an especially important skill to have, however, as they can come in handy in many practical situations.

If you are planning to travel at any point in the future, having a second language under your belt will make your visit much simpler and more fun. Being able to greet and thank people in their native language tends to earn you much friendlier service and also removes the risk of mistakes and miscommunication.

Adding a second language to your CV will immediately give you a head start in many professions, especially if they are client facing or working with the public. Being able to handle conversations and transactions in multiple languages can really open new doors for you.

It’s also a fantastic way to make friends! Joining group language classes can be an excellent way to meet new people who share your interests. Telling people that you’re learning a new language sparks great conversations about fun catch phrases and greetings. Offer to teach people some of the most useful phrases that you have learnt and see how much fun you can have!

How do you start learning?

Luckily, we live in a world filled with various ways to learn new languages. Firstly, decide whether you would like to learn from a tutor, or teach yourself.

If you want to join a class or find a tutor, check your local area for private lessons. It’s likely that whatever language you are looking to learn will have a class nearby that you can attend.

For more serious endeavors, you can take a free Open University language course with Open Learn.

Teaching yourself is also a good way to start off, especially if you’re unsure about signing up for a class straight away. There are plenty of free and paid at-home courses that you can choose - the easiest is the Duolingo app. 

You can sign up for a free trial to test if it works for you, and you have the option to pay for a more in-depth subscription.

The Rosetta Stone app is also a fantastic way to teach yourself a language, with help from experts. This is only available as a paid subscription, but can be a much cheaper option depending on the courses available in your area.