5 Most Useful Second Languages For Travelers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Most Useful Second Languages For Travelers

In addition to the world’s most influential and widely spoken language of English, understanding a second language is key to unlocking authentic experiences on your travels and making and maintaining global connections. It’s a way of displaying respect to the people of the country as a traveler, and it will allow you to feel more comfortable in foreign destinations and ease the process of adopting a new culture. Before taking off on your next journey, consider picking up one of these useful second languages to better engage with locals.

Russian

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Outside of tourist hotspots in Eurasia, navigating the public transportation systems and ordering food can pose a challenge. Though the official Russian speaking nations of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus don’t regularly top bucket lists for many travelers, its Soviet Union legacy solidified Russian as a recognized second language in its 15 former countries, allowing Russian speaking travelers to move through Armenia, Estonia, Georgia and Uzbekistan with ease. Based on the 33 letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, a grasp of the Russian language is pertinent to Eurasian adventures of traveling on the Trans-Siberian and hiking the rugged paths of Lake Baikal.

Arabic

Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

As one of the United Nations’ six official languages, Arabic is a useful second language for exploring the Middle East and North Africa. Comprised of 30 modern types, Modern Standard Arabic is officially used in politics, books and news channels, while Classical Arabic is the language of the Quran and is used in Islamic literature dating between the 7th and 9th centuries. The squiggly lines of Arabic script written from right to left may seem intimidating and foreign to English speakers at first, but the biggest challenge of learning Arabic is deciding on which dialect to study, as these regional variations are the basis for daily interactions.

Mandarin

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Widely used in Asia and beyond, Mandarin is the world’s most spoken language, with over one billion native speakers. Because few residents speak a language other than Mandarin, navigating China and Taiwan can prove difficult for foreigners. The most challenging aspect of learning the language is mastering its tonal component, as the meaning of the word changes depending on which of its four tones you use. But grasping the language means being able to engage in daily interactions with locals in the markets of Malaysia, with street food vendors in Singapore, and can also prove useful in the sizable Chinese communities of Indonesia and Thailand.

French

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A native language of France, French is also one of Canada’s two official languages. It remains a popular second language across Europe and is also widely spoken on islands of the Caribbean and parts of Africa. France consistently tops surveys as the most visited country in the world and is one of few places where tourists outnumber locals. Immerse yourself in the French culture by ordering delectable crepes from street vendors in Nice and sailing the sparkling blue waters of Corsica in the Mediterranean, all in French. Travelers fluent in the language can also lay on the sugary white sand beaches of Martinique, explore Montreal’s Old Port, or navigate the souks of Morocco without a hitch.

Spanish

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America’s second most spoken language, Spanish, also dominates Central and South America, allowing Spanish speaking travelers to easily navigate their way through the region’s most popular destinations of Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. Aside from its high geographic coverage in the Americas, Spanish is also a native language of Spain, and its commonalities with Portuguese and Italian assist travelers in communicating across southern Europe and Brazil. Due to regional accents, Spanish is spoken differently in countries around the world, but Guatemala’s neutral accent has been recognized by travelers as a favorite place to learn, resulting in a high number of Spanish language schools in the nation’s colonial city of Antigua.

3 Most Useful Second Languages

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

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3 Most Useful Second Languages

If you’re reading this, you have quite a powerful language. There are 1.5 billion global English speakers – the most spoken language in the world. Why not make your linguistic skills even more powerful by learning other strategic languages? It’s always useful to learn aspects of a language while traveling – phrases in German, French, Italian, Greek and Romanian for your trip across Europe, perhaps. But there are a handful of languages that would be wise to learn, especially as a frequent traveler. Here are the three most useful second languages.

Arabic

Credit: Juan Ci/Shutterstock

There are at least 315 million native and non-native speakers in the Arab world, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. With it, traveling to the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia is so much simpler (especially since the written language is so different from English lettering). Arabic is the official language of Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and a few dozen other countries. It’s also the liturgical language of the Muslim population (around 1.5 billion people), making it highly important to religious scholars and those with an interest in the topic.

Spanish

Credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Every traveler likely knows a tiny bit of Spanish, but with so many Spanish-speaking countries, it’s a no-brainer to learn in an effort to make your trips easier and more rewarding. There are about 400 million nature speakers in countries around the globe: Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and, of course, Spain, just to name a few. It’s universally recognized as useful, as it’s the third most studied language in the world behind English and French.

Mandarin Chinese

Credit: Toa55/Shutterstock

If you want to interact with 1.1 billion or so people, you’re going to have to do so in Mandarin Chinese, nearly a billion of which are native speakers. China is expected to become the world’s leading economy by 2050. If you’re in business, it’s a must-know language. It would at least be extremely useful as the country’s worldwide influence increases.

A hitch in California as bilingual education is restored

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

A hitch in California as bilingual education is restored

December 31 at 11:45 PM
While Californians passed a ballot measure to bring back bilingual education in the upcoming school year, educators say a challenge to getting the programs started will be finding more bilingual teachers.Nearly 20 years after banning most bilingual education, Californians voted in November to let schools restore it for English learners and English speakers whose parents want them to learn Spanish, Mandarin and other languages to compete globally.

Educators say growing interest in bilingual programs will boost already high demand for teachers trained and credentialed to teach the classes. Schools that already have such programs in California — and in other states, including Utah and Oregon — have brought teachers on visas from overseas to meet the need.

“There is already a shortage for bilingual teachers with just the demand we have right now,” said Joshua Speaks, a spokesman for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The overwhelming vote in favor of Proposition 58 is a huge turnaround from the backlash to bilingual education that followed a surge in immigration to California in the 1990s. Since then, some schools started bilingual programs, but parents of English learners had to sign annual waivers for their children to participate, and many districts were reluctant to take on the paperwork.

With the measure passed — 73.5 percent of voters supported it — many schools are expected to expand bilingual offerings or start programs. Among the most popular models are dual-language immersion programs mixing English learners and English speakers in the classroom and splitting instructional time between English and another language.

California’s Department of Education estimates that the state has at least 350 dual-language immersion programs, although the vast majority of the state’s 1.4 million English learners are taught using English immersion. Robert Oakes, a department spokesman, could not say how many districts will start bilingual programs but expects that many will.

“There is a hope and an expectation there will be a big expansion,” he said.

California already had a teacher shortage that followed the economic downturn. Areas where teachers are needed most include special education, science and bilingual education, Speaks said.

To be authorized to teach bilingual classes, teachers must take extra courses and exams. In the 2014-2015 school year, the state issued about 400 bilingual authorizations, Speaks said.

Cristina Alfaro, a professor of dual-language and English-learner education at San Diego State University, said her program annually graduates about 60 bilingual teachers.

“We don’t even credential enough to meet the demand for San Diego, and we have a lot of people from out of state and throughout the state who call us,” she said. “My phone rings off the hook.”

The lack of bilingual classrooms in California over the last two decades, especially at the high school level, has contributed to the dearth of bilingual teachers, said Nicole Knight, executive director of English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement at Oakland Unified.

To meet the demand, school districts have looked overseas. Los Angeles Unified, which has more than 500 teachers in dual language immersion programs, brought nine teachers and two support staff on visas for Mandarin programs, said Barbara Jones, a district spokeswoman. In Oakland Unified, the district has brought visiting teachers from Mexico and Spain.

Estimated 70% Of China’s Population Can Now Speak National Language: Mandarin

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

More Chinese able to speak the national language

CHINA has managed to raise the proportion of the population able to speak the national language, Mandarin, but still faces difficulty in remote areas and places where ethnic minorities live, China News Service said yesterday.

As of the end of last year, more than 70 percent of the population could speak Mandarin, compared with 53 percent at the end of the last century, the agency said, citing the education ministry.

The ministry believes that with greater urbanization and more young people moving into cities, areas that are weak in Mandarin abilities, mostly remote places and areas with lots of ethnic minorities, the level will continue to rise, the news agency said.

It hopes to have “basic” national coverage for the language by 2020, it added.

Some officials have previously said that the country was too large and had too few resources to get all of its 1.3 billion people to speak Mandarin.

China has been promoting Mandarin for decades to ensure national cohesion in a country where there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dialects, as well as ethnic minority languages like Tibetan and Uygur.

But some dialects, such as Cantonese and Hokkien, enjoy strong regional support even if there is little official backing for their use.

Lack of money also means that some schools in poorer, more remote areas have to use teachers whose own Mandarin skills may not be up to par.

In the Chinese mainland Mandarin is referred to as Putonghua or “common speech,” while in Taiwan it is called Guoyu, or “nation”.

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