How to choose a language to study
Summer is the ideal time to start learning a new language. If you’re a student, learning a language over the summer will provide a fun challenge to keep your brain engaged while you have some time away from classes. If you’re in the working world, learning a language will prepare you for late-summer or holiday travel. Summer also presents opportunities for cultural festivals and events that allow you to practice your language skills in person.
Language lovers often feel torn between several options when choosing what language to take on next. Here are some factors to consider:
How different is the target language from my native one?
Am I already familiar with the script, or am I willing to learn a new script?
How much vocabulary will I know from loan words or root words shared with other languages I know? Languages originating in your region are more likely to share words and grammar. To scan for similarities, check out a language family map.
Will the language I’m considering present particular opportunities or challenges for my personal strengths and weakness? (For example, people who like music may enjoy a tonal language like Chinese).
What other languages will this language help me learn later?
One of the most important factors is whether or not you like the language. If you’re having fun and making progress, studying a language can be more like a game than a chore.
As an example of this decision process, here are some reasons why English speakers might want to study Spanish, Danish, or Modern Greek:
This is an especially useful language for U.S. and Canadian citizens. English and Spanish share a sound system and some root words. Be aware, however, that Spanish verbs tend to give learners trouble. Once you have the fundamentals of verb conjugation, Spanish offers a useful path to other romance languages.
Danish grammar is relatively simple, as it has no noun cases and only two genders. The vocabulary looks similar to English, and there are only a few extra letters in the alphabet. But be sure to have an audio companion. Written Danish is easier than spoken Danish, so get as much listening practice as possible.
Many English words have their roots in Greek, making vocabulary easier. Once you get the alphabet down, you really only need to be concerned about grammar. There are four cases, but one uses the word’s dictionary form (nominative), the other is for direct address (vocative). The sound system of Modern Greek is similar to that of Slavic languages, and 1/3 of the alphabet exists in Cyrillic.
WordBrewery’s nineteen languages include Spanish, Danish, and Greek. No matter what you choose to learn, we hope you use WordBrewery to help you meet your goals. WordBrewery is designed to teach languages with real sentences selected based on the frequency of the words they contain.
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