When I first wrote this on another blog, I thought that most language learner would have pretty sure of “which foreign language to learn.” Well, unfortunately, I was wrong. The most commonly asked questions are, “What Language should I learn?” or Which foreign language is more in demand? And to tell you the truth, I still find it quite challenging to answer.
Gone are the days when learning a foreign language is just a hobby. More importantly, In today’s competitive, evolving, and the ever-shrinking world, there’s an exponential demand for jobs that require a foreign language.
The importance of foreign language in India has never been more valuable than today thanks to the numerous career opportunities in foreign languages. It’s no surprise that today, learning a foreign language is now regarded as a full-fledged career objective.
Languages can be broadly classified into two categories — Most Popular Foreign Languages Vs. Uncommon Languages. There are primarily two main confusions: (i) Among European Languages – French Vs. Spanish Vs. German, and (ii) Among East Asian Languages – Chinese Vs. Japanese Vs. Korean.
“You live a new life for every language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.”Czech proverb
Picking the right language to learn can be a daunting task. The answer to the question will, of course, be different depending on your reason, situation, and circumstances. Once you have the concrete goal and purpose of learning any language, the number of language options will decline significantly.
Are you planning to immigrate to Canada and want to make yourself more employable? Then, your best foreign language to learn will be different than if you have an interest in K-Drama and K-Pop. In other words, from the perspective of a learner, you must look at the numerous reasons and future plans.
Globalization has made all businesses international to some extent, and adding language skills is a great value add on your resume. There are several factors you should consider when choosing a foreign language: difficulty level, personal preference, interest, target country, sectors or industries, possible immigration, and future goals, etc.
Whether you’re interested in improving your career opportunities or seeking international employment, or enhancing your business drive or looking for adventure or just trying to check off your bucket list. There are countless reasons to learn a foreign language.
10 Best Foreign Languages to Learn in India
All of the languages listed here are vital. So, if you are wondering which foreign language is in demand in India. Here, we have listed 10 of the best foreign language you can learn in India if you intend to remain competent and relevant in today’s job market. So here we go.
1. French (Français)
French is the most popular foreign language to learn in India, and the reasons to learn French are apparent. With over 30 French-speaking countries in the globe, It is spoken by roughly 300 million French-speakers across the world. According to Forbes, there will be 750 million French speakers in the world by 2050.
French continues to be a top choice among Indian students, both at school and University level. French contributes more than 50% of original words to the English language, which is why Indians fancy it so much as it becomes relatively easier to learn. Thanks to a wide range of Jobs in the French language, the benefits of learning French in India is full of career opportunity.
Want to study in France? Within Europe, France is the third most popular destination for international students, including India. Another reason is India’s craze about Canada where French is one of the two official languages. You can score some extra points on your visa to Canada if you appear for TEF Exam in India. French also provides you a run-through vibrant culture and customs, which is very intriguing.
Besides, if you’re interested in jobs in the French embassy or exploring job opportunities in export & import industry. Or wish to make a career as a language teacher, French will be an asset on your CV.
Besides, French is a language of international excellence—the official language of many international organizations like the UNO, EU, AU, NATO, FIFA, IOC, ISA, and more. If you have an interest in pharmaceuticals, energy production, information technology, aeronautics, and telecommunications, and not sure which foreign language to choose, then French is the language to learn.
2. German (Deutsch)
After French, German is the most popular foreign language among Indians. It is spoken by over 100 million native speakers and a total of 185 million speakers worldwide. It is also the most spoken native language of Europe. Besides, German is the second most commonly used language on the internet. There is a myriad of reasons to learn German in India.
It is easier than French but has more challenging syntax than Spanish. Considering that many schools and Colleges in India have listed German as an optional and in some cases compulsory subject to study. It becomes essential to contemplate acquiring German because the demand is on the increase, and you will need to be more competitive in the future. No surprise, Zertifikat Deutsch test seats are quickly filled in India.
Germany is Europe’s largest economy, fourth-largest by nominal GDP in the world, the world’s second-largest exporter, which makes it a crucial language to learn. The German language scope in India is full of lucrative salary and immense job opportunities.
Whether you want to pursue further studies or do business in Germany, Switzerland, or Austria, or you want to enhance your employment opportunities in fields like engineering, automobile, power and utility, management, medical and healthcare, etc., German is the language to learn. If you’re interested in literature, classical music, arts, psychology, or philosophy, German is hard to beat.
3. Spanish (Español)
Why Learn Spanish in India? The official language of 20 countries across the world. It is the lingua franca of Spain and most countries in Central and South America. As per the study of Cervantes, There are roughly 572 million Spanish-speaking populations across the planet. With over 50 million Spanish speakers, the USA is now the second-largest Spanish-speaking country After Mexico.
Spanish is probably one of the most natural languages to learn for Indians. Spanish syntax and grammar are very straight-forward and simple in so much that its vocabulary is highly similar to English. You can pronounce most Spanish word with little effort.
However, the number of tenses, verb irregularities, synonyms for vocabulary, and Spanish dialects and varieties are more complicated and time-consuming to learn in Spanish than in other European languages like French or German. Armed with the right language methodology, proper guidance, and regular practice, you can pass the Spanish Proficiency Test, i.e., DELE B2/C1 or SIELE Test in India in 2-3 years.
Bilateral and diplomatic relations between India and countries in Latin America is growing like a California wildfire, which is why there is a surge in demand for Spanish in India. While there are a variety of career options after learning Spanish, one most-sought-after the choice is foreign language jobs in BPO, KPO, and call centers.
If you don’t want to be left behind in the future scheme of things (especially in the translators, diplomats, teachers, and travel career prospect fields). It is one of the best foreign languages to learn for jobs.
4. Japanese (日本語 / Nihongo)
If you are perplexed “Which east Asian language should I learn” or in case you are still wondering which foreign language is best for a career. Well, then try Japanese. There is a reason why Japanese is in high demand in India—the skyrocketing increase in trade between India and Japan. With over 130 million native speakers, Japanese is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world.
As of October 2018 — The number of Japanese companies and businesses operating in India has gone up to 1,441. Since most Japanese are shy to speak a different language, these companies are always looking for reliable Japanese translators and interpreters. There are plenty of Jobs opportunities after learning Japanese. Ability to speak fluently could significantly increase your job advancement in India and abroad.
The career scope after learning the Japanese language in India is full of employment opportunities if you can reach a higher Japanese language certification exam like JLPT N2/N1. Japanese has a reputation for being difficult to learn. But don’t worry. It’s not hard at all if you practice regularly.
Once you’ve mastered Hiragana, Katakana, and at least 1500 Kanji, a bright future is waiting for you. Are you thinking “which foreign language is highly paid in India?” Then, you will be glad to know that Japanese is also ranked as one of the highest paying foreign language jobs in India.
Besides, the Indian Government is already planning to incorporate Japanese into the secondary school curriculum, which will further increase demand for the language in the future. Anime, Nintendo, Sudoku, karaoke, sushi, manga, martial arts, Sony PlayStation, origami, Hello Kitty, and more – think about how a plethora of products from Japan enriches our daily lives. If you are into anything robotic, Japanese is worth learning.
5. Mandarin Chinese (普通话 / Pǔtōnghuà)
With more than 20.70% of speakers (considering the Chinese population), Mandarin is undisputedly the most extensive language spoken in the world. One in every five people in the world speaks Chinese. It might take time, but Mandarin is the language of the future. However, this doesn’t mean Mandarin is among the three most popular tongues among Indians as it comes from a different language root altogether.
But when you consider its career prospect, especially with China’s role in the global economy. Then, learning Mandarin will conveniently open up doors for Mandarin speakers in the world of business.
The fact that the number of people who know Mandarin in India is less makes them even more ideal for career-minded individuals. Thus, having this skill can give you great job and business opportunities both in India and in the worldwide community.
Another good thing about learning Chinese in India is that most prefer German, French, or Spanish to Chinese due to its complexity. That’s why it is beneficial if you don’t want to face too much competition going forward. Mandarin language plays a vital role in the export and import industry. The job opportunities in the Chinese language in India is one of promise and notable acceptance, and this why the HSK certification exam in India is gaining popularity.
6. Korean (한국어 / Hangugeo)
Probably something “Korean” is already present in your home—from LG, Samsung, to Hyundai, etc., the Indian market is one of the largest destinations for Korean export products and services. There is the enormous impact of Korean bilateral relationship with Indian, and from all indications, this trend will continue for many more years.
The Korean companies are operating in almost every sector, i.e., Information Technology, business research, consumer electronics, R&D, life sciences, media, automobiles, tourism, construction industry, trading, finance, services, etc. The scope of the Korean language as a career is awe-inspiring.
I think most people are learning the Korean language in India because of K-Pop, K-Dramas, and K-Movies. A large number of young people across the world is fascinated by the country’s K-pop artists such as Big Bang, BTS, Girls Generation, and more.
The Hallyu (Korean Wave) has become a truly a worldwide phenomenon appealing and entertaining to all ages. All of these had accelerated people’s interest in studying Korean.
Although like Japanese, Korean appears to be not such a popular language to many Indians. It is the main reason why there are not many Korean learning centers in India. Whether you are planning to study in South Korea or want to give your career a boost, you should aim for at least Level V TOPIK exam in India. Whatever reason you have for picking up Korean, you won’t regret in the future.
7. Arabic (عربى / Al-‘Arabiyyah)
If you are one of those simpletons, who think Arabic is a language of Muslims. As if Non-Muslims don’t speak Arabic, then you must be missing out on great opportunities.
Arabic is becoming an influential language not only in India but also outside it when it comes to operating an international business that’s trying to break into foreign markets. Most of the Arabic-speaking economies are very rich and are developing at a fast pace.
We are talking the language of more than 25 countries in the world, with the Middle-East a hotbed of economic wealth and business opportunities—from oil and gas to tourism/travel, and more business transactions, the Arabic language per Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Iraq and more, plays a critical role in the global scheme of things. So, this fact alone makes Arabic one of the most important languages on the planet.
Your Arabic will open you up to opportunities in a region that has recorded a growth rate of 120% in the last five years. The sectors like the IT, Publishing, Aviation, Education, Finance & Banking, Hospitality & Tourism, business, and industries in India are looking for people with the ability to speak the Arabic language.
As the Middle East continues to accelerate in development, it has attracted substantial investment opportunities as well. Job opportunities in the Middle East and other parts of the world is another career motivator why many Indians want to learn the Arabic language in India.
8. Russian (русский / Rússkiy)
Why learn Russian in India of all languages? Russian is among the six official languages of the UNO and is also widely used in the internet and commonly spoken in 26 countries in the world. With over 150 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine, and neighboring countries, It is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the largest native language in Europe.
If you’re interested in Travel and Tourism as an Indian businessperson, then Kerala and Goa are well-known destinations for Russian tourists that brings millions of dollars to the Indian economy every year. And as the trend continues, it becomes clearer that India will need more Russian proficient workforce to cater for the continuous influx of Russian-speaking tourists.
Besides, most Indians view Russia positively as a friend of India. You can use your language learning skills to help people learn more in coaching classes about traveling to Russian, working, or doing business over there. The ability to speak Russian offers tons of job opportunities in Engineering, Science & Technology, Oil & Gas, and defense sector.
Once upon a time, Russian was one of the most popular foreign languages in India. Well, it became less popular after the breakdown of the USSR. A loss of interest accompanied the loss of Russia’s superpower status. Lately, the Russian Government has introduced several measures to remedy the situation. Well, only time will tell.
9. Portuguese (Português)
While you might think Portugal when you think Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. With more than 250 million speakers worldwide, Portuguese is the sixth most extensively spoken in the globe. Which makes it one of the top 10 major foreign languages to learn in India.
Portuguese ruled Goa from 1510 to 1961. Goa is the best place to learn Portuguese in India thanks to Portuguese-speaking locals, many Lusophone activities, including the screening of films, cultural programs, music concerts, events, seminars, and many more.
For Indians, the career prospects in learning Portuguese are apparent. Many Indian companies, like Allegis, IBM, Amazon, Accenture, etc., are looking for people proficient in Portuguese.
The demand for Portuguese language specialist in India is on the rise and useful in a wide array of industries such as Technology, Finance, Accounts, Export-Import, Technical Support, IT/ITES, Tourism, and Education. There is also the scope of impressive expansion business and trade relations between India and Lusophone (Portuguese speaking countries).
Although Spanish remains a priority for most Indian learners, Portuguese is rising in demand as well. It is because Portuguese is the official language in Brazil, which is an emerging economy. Besides, the tongue shares similar lexical structure with Spanish, which makes it more relevant to learn. So, if you choose to learn one of these languages, you can decide to learn the other as well.
10. Italian (Italiano)
You may have the universe if I may have Italy.Giuseppe Verdi
Do you want to learn Italian in India? Well, I certainly do.
I’ve always wanted to learn Italian, but somehow, I was never able to start. Finally, I have added to my bucket list, with a target to achieve conversational fluency by the end of 2020.
The fascinating culture, delicious cuisine, exhilarating history, mellifluous accents, and notable historic places happens to be my reason. Italian is one of the languages which is most studied for culture and pleasure because of extraordinary richness and strength.
The Creator made Italy by designs from Michelangelo.Mark Twain
The Italian language holds immense importance. A recent study by KPMG has shown that “Made in Italy” is the third most recognized brand in the world. Besides, Italy is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with its economy ranking 8th overall. There are famous Italian MNCs like Fiat, Diesel, Gucci, Pinnacle, Bennetton, Marconi, and Lloyd operating in India, and these companies are actively looking for Italian speakers.
Professionals who work in construction machinery, robotics, graphic design, culinary arts, interior design, furniture design, manufacturing tools, shipbuilding, space engineering, fashion, and transportation equipment, etc. are sure to find Italian as career assets at the top of their resume. Thanks to globalization, outsourcing, and offshore, you will find plenty of new job opening in plenty of MNC, IT, KPO and BPO, and KPO.
While the Italian pronunciation is tricky, It is not a difficult language to master. It will surprise you to know that Romance languages like Spanish and French shares more than 70% of lexical resemblance with Italian. It is why it is encouraging Indians to study Italian. And clear higher level Italian language proficiency test like CELI or CILS if you already know Spanish or French.
How much time is needed to learn?
How much time required to learn a language will depend on three things. The language difficulty, How you are studying, and level of proficiency, you want to achieve in studying the language concerned. For lower Advanced level like B2 in European Languages or JLPT N2 / TOPIK V / HSK V in East Asian tongue, it will take anywhere between 2 to 4 years.
Out of Top 10 foreign languages mentioned in this list, Mandarin Chinese is probably the most difficult language to learn for Indians. And “which is the easiest foreign language to learn in India” or for English speakers? Scandinavian languages like Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish are easiest for Indians and English speaking population. The most quoted research of FSI studies confirms the same.
Since these languages are not on this list, thus, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian would be three simplest languages to learn for Indians.
- Spanish, Italian, Portuguese — 2 Years.
- German, French, Russian — 3 years.
- Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Arabic — 4 years.
The duration is based on the assumption that you will devout on average 15 hours per week, and the target is at least lower Advanced level. Take the term only as a reference since it depends on several factors, including methods for learning language, effort, teacher, learning style, and your own natural language learning ability.
Conclusion (Final Words)
Knowing what language to learn is an essential decision that only you can make. It depends on what you feel is right, what you want, and whatever your plans are for the future. All the foreign languages listed here are beneficial, provided you commit time and resource to learn it. Once done, you will unquestionably find it useful.
Which foreign language to learn is an extremely subjective topic and harder to answer. Mastering a new language takes time and patience. I want to suggest you choose as per your future objective, job market, and interest. You can also learn the language you like.
When I am talking about ‘finding the reason.’ I’m referring to an overarching goal that drives you. Lack of purpose and motivation is the primary reason for language learning failure.
The purpose or having the goal is the best way you can become enough motivated to learn a language, and you will also enjoy the learning process. Don’t believe everything you hear. There are tons of language learning myths. Read, think, pay attention, and choose the one that suits you.
Which Foreign Language do you want to learn? Let us know in the comments what your first pick is! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!