The Most Useful Foreign Languages to Learn for Tourists

The Most Useful Foreign Languages to Learn for Tourists

Planning a long overdue vacation? Putting together travel itineraries, arranging visas, and ensuring your funds are in order is only half the battle. If you want to get the most out of an international trip, foreign languages are an invaluable tool to have at your disposal. The advantages of speaking a foreign language while traveling are obvious. For starters, you'll be able to engage with the locals fairly easily. If you prefer exploring off the beaten path, there's no better way of accessing unique travel tips. However, just about every aspect of your trip will be enriched by being able to speak the language fluently. Unsure of whether to master Korean, get to grips with German, or polish up on your high school French? With foreign language skills under your belt, your travel destination options are unlimited. Read on for five of the most useful languages any self-respecting globetrotter should think about learning.

1. Portuguese

Portugal is one of Europe's smallest countries, with a population of just 10.3 million. For many Europeans, this Iberian country is a dream destination. Portugal itself has a buoyant tourism sector, so don't expect your language skills to be put to the test if you're headed here. However, Portuguese is spoken across the globe. It's spoken by more than 279 million people worldwide. Outside of Portugal, it's the leading language of Brazil. It's also recognized as an official language further afield in places like Macau.

2. Spanish

Spanish is incredibly widespread, with countries across three separate continents recognizing it as an official language. In total, there are more than 400 million Spanish speakers on the planet. This is one language worth learning if you're planning a backpacking adventure. With a firm grasp of Spanish, you'll be able to travel throughout South America confidently. Furthermore, you're leaving your options open for sojourns to Spain itself, as well as certain countries on the African continent.

3. Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese

After English, Chinese Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language in the world. At the time of writing, there are more than 1.1 billion Mandarin speakers. If you're thinking about traveling to mainland China, you'll need at least some command of Mandarin. Cantonese is also worth exploring, with more than 64 million people using this as their mother tongue. Mandarin and Cantonese have also been spoken further afield. If you're considering heading to places like Singapore or Hong Kong, these Chinese languages will prove invaluable.

4. Arabic

Arabic is spoken in many countries across North Africa and the Middle East. It's now a recognized language in 25 individual countries and territories. In total, more than 310 million people speak Arabic fluently. It's also one of the fastest-growing languages on the planet becoming an increasingly in-demand language for employers. However, it's worth bearing in mind that Arabic dialects can vary considerably, depending on where in the world you are.

5. Hindi

With more than 600 million speakers, Hindi is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It's a leading language in India and Pakistan, although there are sizable populations of Hindi speakers in countries like Nepal and Mauritius. If you're headed to the usual tourist traps, you should be able to get by with English. However, if you plan on leaving behind the throngs of vacationers and investigating less explored corners, having a good command of Hindi is essential.