Learning a new language

While at least 80% of students across Europe learn a foreign language, in Canada, only around 19% [according to census] speak something other than the two official languages, English and French.


While speaking a second or even third language can come in handy when you’re travelling, to work internationally, or to communicate with your older relatives, it’s believed it also helps improve the brain’s cognitive ability, helps with multitasking and even delays the onset of symptoms of dementia.


So, if you’re looking to learn another language, which ones should you consider?


·       Mandarin: With China’s economy likely to overtake the US’s by the end of this decade, learning Mandarin is a smart choice to increase business opportunities in the future. While it’s considered one of the more difficult languages to learn in the West — Chinese characters and tones can be particularly challenging — the language’s grammar will be more familiar to English speakers, with simple sentence structure and few gender-based words, unlike many European languages.


·       Spanish: With nearly half a billion native speakers around the world, learning Spanish is a great idea for broadening your horizons all around Central and South America (except Brazil), in Spain of course, as well as with growing numbers of Spanish-speakers living in North America. Spanish pronunciation is straightforward — it usually sounds the way it’s spelled — and, because it’s a Romance language derived from Latin, English speakers will find many Spanish words familiar, for instance: bicicleta, elegante and futbol,


·       Arabic: Though it’s one of the top five languages in the world, Arabic can be hard for English speakers to learn. Not only does it have a non-Latin alphabet (which does share a common history with ours), like Hebrew, vowels are usually excluded, which can make it hard for beginners to decipher similarly spelled words. And, also like Hebrew, it’s written right to left, which can take getting used to. But with some 25 countries speaking one Arabic dialect or another, and Arabic speakers found throughout Europe and North America, it can be useful to learn.


·       Swahili: Considered one of the easier languages to learn (though not the easiest!), Swahili is widely used across eastern Africa and it’s a common second language for many Africans. Like Spanish, words are usually spelled the way they’re pronounced and it includes a lot of English loan words.


Have you learned a second or third language? How was the experience for you and do you find being multilingual useful? Share your experiences with the Shop Talk community – we always appreciate hearing from you!

Norwegian is the easiest language to learn


Well, that’s if you’re an English speaker. Norwegian is related to English, shares similar vocabulary and grammar. With a little attention, it’s not hard to figure out that “Kan du hjelpe meg?” means “Can you help me?” Congratulations — you’re learning Norwegian. (Source)

25 thoughts on “Learning a new language

  1. Experience sharing. Cantonese also is a popular dialogues in China and Traditional Chinese language is used for a long time in China.

  2. Hello!
    I wonder how easy/difficult it would be to learn slovak. I speak french and english. What would be the best program to lean?

  3. I would love to speak the Arabic language. I do know some words and some phrases but I have a problem when it comes to making sentences as I do not know the verbs and when or where they are used.
    Can you please help me find a free course in Arabic language.

  4. I’m trying,loosely,to learn Finnish because it was my mother’s native language and I suck at French despite,or maybe to spite,having to learn it in school

  5. That’s all well and good, but I have tried to learn French in public school, high school, and in the Canadian Coast Guard College. I did try hard but in the end I still can’t speak more than a few words. I do know a few people that did learn it but if they had no reason to use it in their daily lives, after a fairly short time they totally forgot how to speak it.
    I have heard of several places that claimed to be able to teach you an another language fairly quickly. But I have no idea who they are now.

  6. I would definitely be interested in learning Spanish. I’ve been trying to learn french on my own without success, however, I believe it would be easier if we had children’s french shows or spanish shows on TV so we can learn more easily.

  7. Thank you for these suggestions. I found it very interesting especially the Norwegian, although not the most practical language to learn.

  8. When I retired at age 67 I decided to learn a new language in order to maintain my cognitive ability. I had two choices, 1) Russian, because I had Russian friends who said that they would help me. and 2) Spanish because a thought that I had was that I would use what ever language I learned to travel. I was more attracted to Spanish from a travel perspective. So I chose Spanish.

    At age 67 it was not easy and I am still not fluent, but I enjoy practising my Spanish on anyone who will listen. I visit the Dominican Republic frequently and in fact met my wife there.

    So I recommend learning a second or even third language.

  9. I would like to know where I can learn to speak Spanish. I am an English speaker with a minor knowledge of French. Help?

  10. Esperanto is an international language learned and spoken by people of all nations. It is easier to learn than national languages and allows you to chat with (spoken or written) people from all over the world who have also learned it.

  11. Norwegian and Spanish sounds a=as if they are ,languages I would like to learn. Would like to start with Spanish.

  12. I am complelty fluent in English & German & on an inter-mediate level in French. I took Latin for 2 1/1 years in high school, did not like it since one does not speak it & forgot it. I took Ojwba language classes for 2 years to understand this culture better while working on understanding traditional land activities. I found out that my Latin grammar training was immensly useful with learning the grammar of this language. That grammar is even bigger than Latin. I could not have kept up with these language classes if I had not had Latin. I went for a 2 1/2 week trip to Gutamala to learn Spanish in these emersion schools (4 hrs of classes in the mornings, afternoons: application of Spanish while visiting places, evening: Spanish study time). It was amazing how fast one can learn Spanish in this way. I am planning to do that again. Recently, I have started to learn Hebrew, one of the ancient tribal language of the Israelites in order to understand the Old Testament better. It took 1 1/2 months to learn this different alphabet. It takes more time & effort to learn the vocabularly & grammar. I am finding much better explanations of the Old Testament in this way then how things are generally understood in the western world. Also there are a lot of similarities in the tribal cultures of the ancient Isreal tribes and North Amercian tribal people which is of interest to me. It takes more efford to learn other languages esp. at the beginning but it is worthwhile for understanding other countries and cultures much better. It reduces general opinions & prejudices and increases understanding and compassion to how others understand their lives and situations. I have come across that single language speakers lose their patience very fast when others speak in other languages close by. They very fast take that onto themselves that the others speak about them, find it rude that others speak in a different language close to them, get angry & resentful fast, withdraw, pout, start to make negative comments, and make the overall interaction rather unpleasant. At one time, a dominant English-only speaking male wanted to disallow that the women who spoke more languages to put their other languages onto their resumes. While speakers of several languages, take no offence to something like that, might be rather interested in observing the people speaking a different language trying to figure out what might be going and or just minding their own business. I never make the assumption that the people might speak about me. I am not that important to them esp. if I did not do anything to offend anybody. They are speaking about something else. I think it would eliminate the drama that single language speakers often create for nothing. I find that people who speak more than one lanuage have a much higher tolerance for people of other cultures and can evaluate a situation much better where a person did not understand something correctly or could not properly articulate something where single language speakers go into accusing, blaming & down talking very fast. I am finding it better if everybody would at least learn 2 languages.

  13. I would like to learn Spanish aw we Travel to playa Del Carmen and would like to let be there when we retire .. also Italian as Italy is also on our itinerary of travel destinations

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