Learning a new language is a very time-consuming matter. It not only takes time but also needs a lot of costs- the cost of money, the cost of man-power and the cost of energy. However, while choosing a foreign language, one must analyze his needs of that language.
Learning a new language starts with needs. As a result, Needs Analysis is a must while learning a language. Very few people learn a language for pleasure. Language learning is always related to materialistic purpose. For example, people learn languages for her education or for migration or for reading the literary text of that language. In the earlier time, people learn a language for reading the literary text written in that particular language. For example – learning classical Greek, Latin, etc. But nowadays, people learn a language for living in the target country or for higher education.
The most common and popular foreign languages are English and Chinese. These two languages are two major languages in the world. Chinese is the most spoken language in the world while English is the most spoken second language in the world. The L1 speaker of Chinese is huge while people learn English as both foreign and second language. The following chart shows the number of speakers of English and Chinese:
|Language||L1 speaker||L2 speaker||Total speakers|
|Mandarin Chinese||850 million||180 million||1030 million|
|English||340 million||510 million||840 million|
If you want to learn a language with a large number of speakers and which is spoken by people in many countries, you may choose the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese(Mandarin), German, Japanese, Portuguese and Hindi/Urdu. This chronological order is created based on their usefulness.
From the above list, you can easily guess that the first choice is English. If you learn Chinese, most of the time, you have to use it in the Chinese context. Context is a great matter while choosing a language for learning. On the other hand, the English language enters you in a world where you can use the language everywhere. If you came to a South Asian country like multilingual India, you would find English as a second language. Or if you want to visit any European country, you will find English very useful. In Australia or America, English is the main language. But if you learn Chinese and pay a visit to these Asian, European or Australian country, you hardly get any benefit. Learning Chinese will be benefited in Chinese and context like Taiwan and Singapore as the Chinese language is used as an official language in these contexts. Apart from these languages use learning a language is highly related to education. It is the English language where most of the books are written; journals are published and which is the medium of instruction in top universities.
However, while choosing a language- you must need to focus on your need. If you ask the question learn Chinese or learn English – which one is the better choice of learning, there is no one absolute answer. If you want to live in Singapore and want to work there, you may need Chinese more than English as it is the official language of the country. But if you want to read in a top university, you must need to learn English, and you even need to give some English language tests like IELTS or TOEFL. So, learning a language is not a better of bad vs. good choice rather it is the needs of the readers.
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