cool-languages-to-learn

The 16 Coolest Languages That You Should Learn

There’s no shortage of cool languages out there.

Between the world’s most common languages and the most useful languages, you’ll have a lot to choose from. 

Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to search the internet to find out which language is the trendiest to learn.

In this post, we’ll share the 16 coolest languages, what makes them cool, and the best places to learn them.

Contents

1. Arabic

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Over 370 million people speak Arabic, making it one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. While regional variations of the language exist, it’s spoken throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

What Makes Arabic Cool

Written Arabic uses a cursive-style font that looks more like artwork than writing. It’s so beautiful that you might find yourself scrawling in Arabic on any surface you can, even if you’ve only learned a handful of words.

Arabic is written from right to left rather than left to right, making it distinct from many other languages.

It has a reputation for being challenging for native English speakers to learn, meaning if you can master the language, you’ll look super smart.

Arabic Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

Learn101.org is an excellent free resource that can help you master the basics of Arabic. 

It includes the alphabet, basic vocabulary, basic grammar rules and even some phrases.

Plus, Learn101.org offers plenty of audio to give you a clearer idea of pronunciation.

2. Basque

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Around 630,000 people speak the Basque language as their first language. Most of this population is centered in Basque Country, which is comprised of the Northeastern Spain and a small portion of Western France.

What Makes Basque Cool

Basque is a language isolate, meaning it has no known existing language relatives.

The Basque language is one of Western Europe’s oldest languages, predating the spread of Indo-European languages such as English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Love a good mystery? You’ll love the Basque language. The origins of the unique language are unknown. Even linguistic scholars can’t solve the mystery.

Basque isn’t widely studied, so knowing Basque will set you apart from other language learners. And because it’s spoken in parts of Spain and France, it pairs nicely with studying the Spanish and/or French language.

Learning Resource

Easy Basque is a YouTube channel that has 13 free videos to teach you the basics of the Basque language. You’ll learn subjects, numbers, common verbs, common adjectives and more.

3. Chinese

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Around 1.3 billion people speak Chinese, making it the most widely spoken language in the world.

That being said, there are many different dialects of Chinese, and not all of them are mutually intelligible. This means speakers of one dialect might not understand speakers of another dialect. However, the most common dialect of Chinese is Mandarin.

Chinese is spoken primarily in China, Singapore and Taiwan, but with so many speakers, you can find immigrant populations using the language all around the world.

What Makes Chinese Cool

Given how widespread the language is, learning Chinese can help you communicate more easily with a massive population. This can help you on your travels, in school or even in the business world.

Chinese uses logograms, which are characters that are meant to represent an entire word or phrase. What other writing systems use logograms? Egyptian hieroglyphs!

The writing system for Chinese has ancient roots. In fact, it’s thought to have developed starting around 2000 B.C.

Chinese is a tonal language, meaning that changing the tone of just one syllable can affect a word’s meaning.

Learning Resource

FluentU is a resource that teaches you Chinese in a fun, authentic way. It targets all levels of Chinese learners, from novice to nearly fluent speakers. 

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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And FluentU isn’t just for learning Chinese! You can use it to learn several other cool languages in this article, including the following:

4. English

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Around 379 million people speak English as a native language. The English language is most often associated with Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, it’s also an official language in a huge number of other countries, including the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Trinidad and Tobago, India and many more!

What Makes English Cool

English is the most widely spoken second language, with over a billion people speaking it as a non-native language. That means around twice as many people speak English as a second language than people who speak it as a first language.

Because it’s so widely spoken as a second language, speaking English can help you connect with people around the world, even if neither of you speaks the other’s native language.

Hollywood movies and English-language music are popular around the world, so learning English can help you better enjoy popular entertainment options.

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

Learn English Online offers over 50 free lessons to teach you the basics of the English language.

Lessons include vocabulary, audio, images, examples, tests and more.

5. French

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French is spoken by nearly 80 million native speakers. French is most often associated with Canada and France, but it’s much more widely spoken than that.

It’s also spoken in Algeria, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Italy, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Switzerland and more.

What Makes French Cool

Around 230 million people speak French as a second language, massively expanding the pool of how many people you can communicate with.

The French language is often associated with love and romance, so if you’re looking to woo someone in a beautiful language, it’s undoubtedly a good choice.

Like food? Who doesn’t! Classical French cooking is highly acclaimed and remains popular throughout the world, so learning French can certainly make you seem a lot cooler the next time you go to a high-end restaurant.

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

The French Experiment offers free online learning materials. Lessons cover fundamentals like counting, asking questions, telling the time, talking about your family and even idioms.

Plus, lessons cover important grammar rules, such as possession, articles and making things negative. There are also examples and audio to help you get the hang of things.

6. German

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Over 76 million people speak German as a native language, and another 58 million speak it as a second language.

While it’s most widely spoken in Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, it can also be found in a variety of other countries throughout the world.

What Makes German Cool

German is a widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union, so if you want to travel around Europe, the German language will certainly come in handy.

There’s not much variation between dialects in written German, so if you can read German, you can probably read German materials from anywhere in the German-speaking world.

Sometimes, the longer the word, the cooler it seems. If using long words makes you feel cool, it’s time to learn German ASAP. German has plenty of lengthy compound words. 

Take a look at this one: Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. In case it isn’t already in your daily vocabulary, this 63-letter-long behemoth is the name of a law that regulates beef testing.

Learning Resourcecool-languages-to-learn

Deutsch-Lernen.com offers 10 free beginner lessons. If you already have some German under your belt, though, you can also enjoy 24 free advanced German lessons.

The beginner lessons teach basic syntax, verb forms and vocabulary. They include grammar rules, examples, exercises and a word list. The advanced lessons are written in German and delve more deeply into grammar.

7. Hindustani

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Hindustani is a language from the Indian subcontinent that can also be broken down into two separate languages: Hindi and Urdu.

As separate languages, Hindi has 600 million speakers, less than half of whom are native speakers. Urdu has another 164 million speakers, the vast majority of whom speak it as a second language.

With these numbers combined, Hindustani is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

What Makes Hindustani Cool

Is it one language or is it two? The uncertainty alone makes it pretty cool. Some argue that Hindi and Urdu are separate languages. Some argue that they’re dialects of the same language.

Regardless, if you learn both, it allows you to choose how many languages you claim to speak.

Learning Hindustani can help you connect with two distinct cultures. Hindi is most often associated with members of the Hindu faith in India, while Urdu is more often associated with Pakistani Muslims.

Two separate alphabets means twice the fun! While much of the vocabulary is shared between Hindi and Urdu, Hindi uses Devanagari script, while Urdu uses a Perso-Arabic alphabet.

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

Because of the differences between Hindi and Urdu, they’re usually grouped separately for learning purposes.

Thankfully, MyLanguages.org offers both free lessons for Hindi and free lessons for Urdu. 

These lessons cover the alphabets, basic grammar rules and common vocabulary.

8. Italian

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Nearly 68 million people speak Italian, most speaking it as a native language. It’s mostly associated with Italy.

However, it’s also fairly common throughout parts of Europe, including countries such as Switzerland, Croatia, France, Malta and Romania.

What Makes Italian Cool

Music lovers rejoice! If you play music or sing, chances are that you already know a lot of Italian because many familiar musical terms are actually Italian.

Not only will this give you a leg up on picking up vocabulary, but learning Italian will also help you understand the meanings of musical terms in greater depth.

The Italian language itself has a musical ring to it, making it particularly easy on the ears. But be careful: your friends might keep begging you to speak it to them.

Italy is a popular vacation spot, and speaking Italian can make your trip infinitely cooler. You’ll have a much easier time ordering your perfect pasta or selecting the right gelato flavor.

Learning Resource

cool-languages-to-learn

One World Italiano offers a nice selection of free learning options, ranging from a beginner through an intermediate level.

Courses cover both vocabulary and grammar. Plus, they feature example conversations complete with audio.

One World Italiano also offers a free video course if you prefer the feel of more conventional coursework.

9. Japanese

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Around 123 million people speak Japanese. Nearly all of those people speak Japanese as a native language and are located in Japan.

What Makes Japanese Cool

The world can’t get enough of Japanese culture. Between manga, anime, sushi and innovative products, most people associate Japan with cool things. So if you’re learning Japanese, it will inherently seem cool!

Japanese features three different kinds of characters: hiragana, katakana and kanji. If learning one type of script is cool, learning three types has to be cooler.

Japanese is another language isolate, meaning it doesn’t have any living language relatives. Major cool points for uniqueness!

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

Tofugu offers plenty of colorful, free resources to teach you the basics of Japanese.

These resources are organized in one master article that links to individual articles to help you master specific skills.

You can learn things such as reading, typing, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

10. Korean

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Around 81 million people speak Korean. While this population is mostly centered in North Korea and South Korea, nearby countries, including China and Japan, also have notable Korean-speaking populations.

What Makes Korean Cool

The origins of the Korean language remain debated. Some say it’s a language isolate. Others argue that it may be related to Turkish, Mongolian and/or Japanese. So where did the Korean language come from? Learn it and decide for yourself.

Learning Korean can also help you enjoy Korean entertainment, which is pretty darn cool in and of itself. People can’t get enough of K-pop. K-dramas are as bingeable as any American TV shows you love. With so much great Korean entertainment, learning Korean can open up a lot of doors.

While Korean has a reputation for being challenging, the alphabet itself was designed to be convenient, giving you the best of both worlds: You can look impressively smart without the challenge of learning more complex characters, like those used in Chinese.

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

How to Study Korean offers more free resources than any perspective Korean student could even dream of.

That’s because its lessons are designed to take you from complete beginner to an advanced level.

Dozens of lessons cover vocabulary and grammar in detail. Plus, clear audio can help you perfect your pronunciation.

11. Portuguese

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Over 263 million people speak Portuguese, including over 236 million native speakers. Brazil and Portugal are the countries most often associated with the language.

But it’s also widely spoken in Angola, Mozambique and by smaller populations around the world, particularly in regions colonized by the Portuguese.

What Makes Portuguese Cool

Despite being widely spoken in South America, Portuguese is not as widely studied in the United States as Spanish, making it a unique but useful option.

Portuguese pairs well with other Romance languages, including French, Italian and Spanish. Because they have some similarities, you might have an easier time learning Portuguese alongside any of them. Being trilingual is cooler than being bilingual, right?

Like soccer and want to impress your friends? Learn Portuguese! Soccer is huge in both Brazil and Portugal, so learning the language will open you up to infinitely more soccer viewing options.

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

EasyPortuguese is an excellent free resource that’ll set you up with all you need to start learning Portuguese.

Lessons range from beginner through intermediate and cover grammar rules, common vocabulary and key phrases you might need to use.

Plus, the lessons have audio to help you nail down the pronunciation.

12. Russian

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Russian is spoken by around 255 million people, including nearly 147 million native speakers. While the largest concentration of speakers is in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are also home to many speakers.

What Makes Russian Cool

The grammar is pretty darn complex, but that also makes it intriguing. There are six cases, sometimes seven. There are three declensions. There are three genders. All in all, that’s a lot of grammar rules to learn!

Sentence structure is flexible, so you can get creative with your word order. Because cases and conjugations add to the meaning, you don’t need to follow one standard word order to be understood.

Reading Russian classics in Russian could be one of the coolest accomplishments of your life. Tolstoy. Dostoyevsky. Pushkin. Chekhov. Gogol. These literary titans have one thing in common: They all wrote in Russian. Learning Russian can massively expand your ability to read their literary classics.

Learning Resourcecool-languages-to-learn

Learn Russian for Free is a great go-to source for all sorts of free Russian learning material. It offers organized courses, complete with audio.

There are also tons of supplemental learning materials, like vocabulary videos, exercises, music videos, comics and more.

13. Spanish

Woman-tourist-with-spanish-flag-in-front-of-the-cathedral-in-Zaragoza-city-Spain

Nearly 560 million people speak Spanish, making it one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. Over 485 million people speak it as a native language.

Spanish is spoken throughout Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Spain. However, it can also be found a number of less expected places, including Equatorial Guinea, Morocco and the Philippines.

What Makes Spanish Cool

If you live in the United States, speaking Spanish is a highly marketable job skill. The United States is home to over 56 million Spanish speakers, including over 41 million native speakers. The widespread nature of the language means that it can be a useful skill across industries.

Spanish is phonetic, making it easier to learn than many languages. Each letter corresponds with a sound, and pronunciation rules are quite consistent, so you won’t have to memorize tons of exceptions to rules.

Spanish is also unique in that it has a body devoted to the language. Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) promotes common, shared language standards in the use of the Spanish language. How many other languages can claim they have their own governing bodies?

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

StudySpanish.com has everything a beginning Spanish student could hope for.

It features pronunciation tutorials (with audio), grammar lessons, verb drills, vocabulary, cultural notes and more.

14. Swedish

Two-people-holding-Sweden-flag-in-Stockholm

Over 13 million people speak Swedish, over 9.5 million of whom are native speakers. It should come as no surprise that Swedish is most widely spoken in Sweden.

However, Finland is also home to 2.6 million Swedish speakers, most of whom speak it as a second language.

What Makes Swedish Cool

Scandinavia definitely has a cool reputation—both literally and figuratively. But even if snow and freezing temperatures aren’t your thing, learning Swedish can help you seem cool in the more figurative sense.

Learning Swedish can also make you feel super cool the next time you visit Ikea. After all, knowing a little Swedish will undoubtedly make reading product names much easier.

Swedish has a tone/pitch accent, which makes it sound particularly rhythmic, hence the culturally insensitive accent of the Swedish Chef on “The Muppets.”

Learning Resource Loecsen logo

Loecsen is a free online service that teaches you basic Swedish vocabulary and phrases.

Each word or phrase is accompanied by an image and audio, making it relatively easy to memorize the vocabulary and perfect the pronunciation.

15. Tamil

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Tamil is spoken by nearly 69 million people, most of whom are native speakers. While Tamil is most associated with India and Sri Lanka, there are also speakers in Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa.

What Makes Tamil Cool

Significant effort has been made to keep Tamil “pure,” meaning you won’t find a lot of words derived from other languages. Because most languages borrow heavily from other languages, this is quite unique.

Tamil has ancient origins. Written evidence of the language dates back to the 5th century B.C.

The Tamil alphabet was designed to avoid ripping palm leaves. Palm leaves were once used as writing tablets, so the alphabet is exceptionally curved to avoid any accidents.

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

Learn101.org offers exceptional free learning materials to get you started with learning Tamil.

This includes grammar rules, vocabulary, phrases and even an exam.

Plus, the site features tons of audio pronunciations to help you learn the right way to say things.

16. Xhosa

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Over 19 million people speak Xhosa, though it’s slightly more common as a second language than a first language. Nearly all speakers are located in South Africa.

What Makes Xhosa Cool

Perhaps most remarkably, Xhosa features “clicks” adapted from the Khoisan language, making it sound incredibly unique and challenging.

Xhosa borrows from other languages, too. Some of the vocabulary comes from Afrikaans and English, so you might already recognize some words.

Xhosa has plenty of terrific idioms that you’ll love learning and wish you had in your native tongue.

Learning Resource cool-languages-to-learn

ilanguages.org is a great resource for learning a little Xhosa on your own. The site will introduce you to common vocabulary, basic phrases and grammar rules.

Words and phrases are accompanied by audio to help you get the challenging pronunciations down. Flashcards and a quiz can also help reinforce your learning.

Why Learn a Cool Language?

  • Learning a cool language could definitely increase your motivation. Goodness knows that people will go to extreme lengths to be cool, so it’s a safe way to earn those cool points!
  • If a language having cool points gives you a little extra motivation, it could actually make that language easier to learn.
  • You might have an easier time getting friends in on the act. Learning a language with friends is not only fun, it can also help keep your learning on track, so getting friends to study with you is tremendously valuable.
  • Finally, learning a cool language can make you stand apart from the crowd. There’s a huge array of languages spoken in the United States, but learning a cool language can make you a little more unique.

 

Studying any of these 16 languages can help you earn instant cool points, all without risking life and limb for the perfect Instagram pic.

And One More Thing...

If you dig the idea of learning on your own time from the comfort of your smart device with real-life authentic language content, you'll love using FluentU.

With FluentU, you'll learn real languages—as they're spoken by native speakers. FluentU has a wide variety of videos as you can see here:

FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.

Didn't catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.

You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU's "learn mode." Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You get a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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