The Best Languages to Learn at University

The Best Languages to Learn at University

Whether you’re considering studying a language as your degree, or as an extra module, or you’d prefer to self-study, it’s a perfect way to enhance your skill-set and spend your free time. Language learning demonstrates resilience (languages aren’t easy), dedication (it requires life-long learning) and a good memory, amongst other assets, to future employers and colleagues. If you choose a language suited to your interests, you can even make it fun!

Welsh

Perhaps it’s not the first choice to come to mind, but with universities such as Cardiff and Swansea offering free Welsh tuition for their students, it’s a great opportunity to help promote the Welsh culture. Unfortunately, Welsh is thought to be useless, however many Welsh people are more comfortable speaking it than English. They might happily help you practise.

You’ll be in good company too, because all children in Welsh schools learn Welsh at some point so there is no shortage of conversation partners, textbook and websites.  This is especially true if you study or live in Wales. You can’t get better practice than strolling around your city reading all the bilingual road signs.

The Best Languages to Learn at University

French

French is perhaps the first choice for most Brits. This isn’t surprising since France is our closest continental neighbour and most of us have learnt a bit at school. The fairly similar vocabulary is easy to pick up, and its popularity means you can easily come across learning resources and study groups. French also acts as a gateway to learning other Romance languages such as Romanian and Portuguese. There’s even Latin if you are so inclined. French is widely spoken across Europe as well as Africa.

The Best Languages to Learn at University

Spanish

Besides Spain being a fashionable holiday destination for Britons, it’s also widely spoken across South America and is the most popular language studied in the USA. It ranks top on the British Council’s list of best languages to learn after Brexit.Like French, it’s easy to learn.

Polish

Unlike the other languages here, the demand for Polish is less so because of increased international trade with Poland, but because of a larger number of Polish people working in the UK. Polish is currently the joint second most widely spoken language in the UK alongside Welsh. It sports a complex gender system, unfamiliar pronunciation and intricate spelling rules. You can easily come across helpful native speakers even as far as Canada and the USA.

The Best Languages to Learn at University

Chinese (Mandarin)

Its reputation precedes it as a notoriously tricky language for English speakers, but that hasn’t stopped it being one of the official languages of the United Nations, which uses simplified Chinese.

Japanese

Like Mandarin, Japanese can be tricky for Anglophones, what with is three alphabets and 2000+ Chinese characters. However, the pronunciation is easy to pick up because it consists of short syllables and vowels. I would say, anecdotally, the pronunciation is somewhat similar to that of Spanish, but your mileage may vary. Interestingly, Japanese has many loan words from Chinese, English, Dutch and more.

There’s plenty of ways to interact with Japanese culture too, what with the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics & Paralympics both in Tokyo. If you’re more keen on events in the UK, check out the 2019-20 Japan -UK Season of Culture lead by the Japanese government and the British Council.