World’s Most Popular Languages
If you’re wanting to learn a language that is spoken by many people…think about one of these below:
Mandarin Chinese– [1.2 billion]
If you are going to learn a Chinese dialect, I suggest you choose Mandarin. It is sometimes called “Standard Chinese”. Check out the yellow portions on the map above to see why I see “green” where I see yellow on the map. To be a translator, you must learn to read Chinese logographic characters (hanzi). There are literally tens of thousands, each with a distinct meaning. Before you turn the page, it has been estimated that in order to be functionally literate, you must only learn between 3-4 thousand of these characters. No way, you say? In your native language you probably know between 3-8 thousand words already, depending on your level of education. Don’t worry, your brain has a lot of room for new words.
English- [375 million]
English isn’t the most widely spoken language, but it is arguably the most important. India, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Caribbean countries, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, England, Canada and the United States are a few of the major countries out of over 50 countries who name English as one of their official languages. Did you know that all airline pilots who fly internationally must know English? International telephone operators all speak English. The United Nations uses English? The Olympic Committee conducts all business in English? If you are reading this, maybe you speak English too. It is estimated that almost 1 billion people speak English as a second language.
Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu)-[500 million]
If you want to break into the translation business as a caption writer for movies, learn Hindi. Bollywood pumps out an amazing number of films every year, each one with subtitles in English. Hindi and the related dialects are spoken by millions, even though English is the co-official language of India.
Spanish- [420 million]
Travel from Mexico to the tip of South America – and all you will need to speak is Spanish. If you pop over to Brazil you will need to learn a little Portuguese. This is a dream language for translators, but it is becoming more competetive as more and more Latin American children grow up being bilingual.
Can you say Покажи мне деньги? (“show me the money” ) If you start translating Russian you will want to learn to say it because you will be making a lot of it. The oil economy in Russia is booming, as well as other exports. Guess what? All of the big companies in Russia spend big bucks translating documents into English and other foreign languages. Get in on the frenzy.
Arabic- [295 million]
Arabic is one of the oldest languages on the planet that is still in daily use in 27 countries. As a center of world commerce the Arab world is in great need of qualified translators and they have the money to hire good ones.
Bengali- [220 million]
Spoken in the densely populated country of Bangladesh, Bengali is only mentioned because of the sheer number of people who speak it. I would not recommend that you learn Bengali to line your pockets as a translator.
Portuguese is spoken in odd parts of the world due to the expansion of the Portuguese Empire over several hundred years, starting in the 1400’s. If you love languages and already speak Spanish or French you might want to consider learning Portuguese as a complementary language. Brazil has a rapidly growing economy. I know several people doing quite well with Portuguese.
Malay- [215 million]
Spoken in Indonesia and surrounding territories in south East Asia. Indonesia consists of over 17 thousand islands. So, if it has ever been your dream to head to the islands and drop out of society, this might be the place. Just brush up on your Malay first and don’t forget your laptop.
If you’re looking to pick up girls or impress your friends, a few well spoken phrases in French could do the trick. French is the language of romance, wine and art. You can find a sunny sidewalk café, sip coffee and dream of the good life. As a translator, French is a very good choice or a new language to learn.
Pick one and start TODAY!