Three Common Second Languages

Published On November 16, 2017 | By Jay Woods | Languages

In the whole of human history there has never been a better time—nor a more appropriate one—to learn a second language. This is particularly true for English speakers in the United States, as many native speakers are not exposed to other languages growing up.


For many US natives, Spanish is a smart choice as a second language. Obviously, the United States borders Mexico (and, consequently, Latin America) and that means native Spanish-speakers frequently enter and live and work in the country.  Of course, this is becoming more true the closer you get to the US southern border.

But Spanish is also a smart choice as a second language because English and Spanish use the same alphabet (for the most part) and only differ in morphology (word formation) and phonology (word pronunciation).  Out of all the Romance languages, Spanish is the easiest for a native English speaker to learn.

In addition, Spanish is a smart choice as a second language because it is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world.  While “fourth place” might not sound like much to celebrate, the two most commonly spoken languages are Chinese and Hindi and these are only widely spoken because their native lands are so vastly populated. If you are looking for a language spoken in more countries than any other, then Spanish would definitely be a top contender.

As a matter of fact, Spanish is either the official or most common (and often both) language in 44 countries. In the United States, it is the second most common language, next to English, of course.


If it is sheer numbers you are looking for, Chinese and Hindi would, again, be excellent to learn as a second language. However, if you really want a little more bang for your buck, Portuguese could be a good choice.  Honestly, Portuguese is similar to both Spanish and English, which could make it a popular second language.  On the other hand, while there are 176 million native Portuguese speakers across 9 countries where it is the official language, Portuguese is not as wide a spoken language.


Finally, French can also be pretty easy for English speakers but not because they share the same roots. Indeed, French (like Spanish) is a Romance language (rooted in Latin) while English is Germanic.  Still, English and French share a political history, which explains why they have a similar lexicon.  Roughly 260 million people speak French as a first or second language.

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