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The Best Languages to Learn for Travel

Traveller sat at Park Guell, Barcelona

By Sarah Hemsley

Last updated: 19th December 2023

Learning a language is a fun way to immerse yourself in new cultures. You can get to know the locals and make your big adventure more memorable. Discover the best languages to learn before you set off around the world. These could be a game-changer for your travel experience. So, let's dive in and explore the top languages to learn for travel.

Spanish

Spanish flag waving outside building

Learning Spanish is as easy as uno, dos, tres! More than 400 million people across the entire globe speak Spanish, and another 74 million use it as their second language. It’s one of the easiest and most useful languages to learn for travelling. And chances are you already know a little bit, which is a great start. 

Not only is it useful in Spain for ordering tapas and a lovely glass of sangria, but many countries in South and Central America also use Spanish as their native language. Imagine hopping on a plane to Costa Rica, Peru, or Ecuador, immersing yourself in Latin culture, and having a Spanish lesson of a lifetime. You’ll be a pro in no time. Picture yourself chilling out on Ecuador’s pristine beaches while learning the best language for travel, Spanish.

Difficulty: One of the easiest

Best places to learn Spanish: Ecuador 🇪🇨

Put your language skills to the test on these trips:

- Learn Spanish in Ecuador

Mandarin (Chinese)

Streets of shanghai at nightime

Deciding whether to learn Mandarin is a no-brainer. It’s the second most used language in the world, spoken by a seventh of the entire global population! Which is why it takes second place on our list of best languages to learn. It's mostly spoken in Asia, especially China where it is their official language. So, if you’re looking to pick up some Mandarin, China is the place to go.

It’s also an incredible country to visit with so many gems to discover. From the iconic Great Wall to Fujian’s traditional quaint villages. Knowing the basics of Mandarin, you can meet the locals, and discover the best of China’s inspiring culture and its mouth-watering cuisine.

Difficulty: It is thought to be one of the most difficult, but its grammar and sentence structure aren’t too different from English so you could be a natural!

Best places to learn Mandarin: China 🇨🇳

Have a Mandarin language lesson in Dengfeng on China Adventure.

Italian

Holding a slice of pizza in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

Did you know Italy holds the title of the country with the most World Heritage Sites? It has 59 in total, from the Colosseum in ancient Rome, the colourful terraces at Cinque Terre to the Grand Canals of Venice, and so many more! You could spend endless months touring Italy and ticking these incredible sites off your bucket list, so what better reason to learn its language too? Just by learning a few phrases, you’ll be ordering a delicious Italian pizza in Pisa and making friends with the locals! Saluti 🥂

Difficulty: A little bit more difficult than Spanish, but still one of the easier languages to learn.

Best place to learn Italian: Italy  🇮🇹

Learn Italian on the go on Italian Escape.

Korean

People outside Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

South Korean culture is fast becoming more and more popular. With its exciting food, film, and music entering the Western world, many travellers are adding South Korea to their bucket lists and are beginning to learn the language. If you’re a K-Pop fan you may already know some! Over 77 million people currently speak the language and this is expected to go up and up.

Difficulty: Fairly difficult but much easier to learn than Chinese. There are only 24 letters in the Korean alphabet! Each letter is written in a way that reflects how you pronounce it, making it one of the easiest languages to learn to write. 

Best places to learn Korean: South Korea  🇰🇷

South Korea is calling! Experience South Korean culture on Ultimate South Korea.

French

Wine and cheese board in France

Another go-to second language for travellers is French. More countries speak French than you probably realise. From many countries in Africa, such as Cameroon, Senegal, and Rwanda, all the way to the other side of the globe in Canada. And, of course, can’t forget France, Belgium, and Switzerland! A total of 29 countries across the globe use French as their official language, so it's one of the best languages to under your belt. Especially if you’re a French wine and cheese lover.

Difficulty: Same level as Spanish, easy!

Best places to learn French: France 🇫🇷

Practice your French in the capital of Paris, France’s famous Beaujolais wine region, and the French Riviera on European Wonder. 

Portuguese

Person holding Brazilian flag in front of sunset view

It’s the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, mostly spoken in Brazil, Angola, and Portugal. So whether you're drawn to the lively Brazilian culture, the historical sites of Portugal, or the beauty of African countries, learning Portuguese can deepen your understanding of these diverse cultures. And the fact it’s easy to learn makes it one of the best languages for your travels.

Difficulty: An easy one to learn on Duolingo, although some words are slightly more difficult to pronounce than Spanish.

Best place to learn Portuguese: Portugal 🇵🇹 Brazil 🇧🇷

Pick up Portuguese on a group tour to Portugal or Brazil.

Arabic

Traveller at Medersa Ben Youssef in Marrakesh, Morocco

Is Northern Africa or the Middle East next on your list? Then you should start learning the ancient language of Arabic. It’s one of the oldest languages in the world, dating back to the distant past, the 8th century! Today it’s spoken by over 400 million people across the globe, with 20 countries in the Middle East speaking it daily. So whether Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, or Turkey is calling your name, dive into the Arab culture with an Arabic language lesson or two.

Difficulty: Fairly difficult but easier than you might think. Once you’ve gotten used to reading right to left and have learnt all 28 letters in the alphabet, you’ll be well on your way to speaking Arabic.

Best places to learn Arabic: Northern Africa or the Middle East

Learn Arabic on your travels in MoroccoEgypt, Jordan, or Turkey.

Hindi

Traveller at Taj Mahal in India

Fun fact: You’re already using Hindi words! Words like shampoo, khaki, bungalow, and jungle are all borrowed from Hindi. It’s the third most spoken language in the world. There are many Hindi-speaking countries across the globe, including India, Singapore, Nepal, and many more. It’s one of the best languages to learn if you’re travelling to India and other parts of South Asia. By learning Hindi you can connect with communities and delve deeper into new cultures.

Difficulty: Fairy difficult but not as tough as Mandarin. It takes roughly 44 hours of lessons to learn the basics of this beautiful language.

Best places to learn Hindi: India 🇮🇳 Singapore 🇸🇬 Nepal🇳🇵

Put your learning to the test on the Delhi to Kathmandu Adventure. 

Japanese

Traveller walking down Japanese street with lanterns

With Japan as a travel destination on the rise, there’s never been a better time to learn Japanese. You’ll be able to navigate your way through the depths of Japan. From exploring the buzzing Tokyo, catching the bullet train to Kyoto, and ordering your favourite Japanese cuisine in Osaka. Although only spoken in Japan, it’s in the top 10 most used languages online, so there’s a whole world of Japanese to discover. So whether you’re a huge anime fan or want to speak fluently in Tokyo, it’s a great language to learn.

Difficulty: Challenging but fun! An easy way to pick up some phrases is on Duolingo. 

Best place to learn Japanese: Japan 🇯🇵

Take a Japanese language lesson and impress the locals with your new skills in Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, and Osaka on Japan Express. 

Thai

Tuk tuk driver in Thailand

If Thailand and South East Asia are top of your list, Thai is one to learn. Although complex, learning a few common words will help you delve into the culture and make lasting impressions on the locals. A simple ‘Sawasdee’ (sah-wah-dee/hello) and ‘Khob Khun’ (Kob-Koon/thank you) will go a long way. Your tuk-tuk driver will be impressed! 

Difficulty: Challenging but a fun one to pick up on your travels.

Best place to learn Thai: Thailand 🇹🇭

Practice your Thai with new friends in Thailand.

 

Discover the best trips for learning a new language here.

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