A few months back I wrote a for the fun of it post about which languages would be the most useful languages in the world to know. Funny enough, I got a lot of criticism about not putting English first. They obviously didn’t read the disclaimer that it was for fun of it and it was based on of a limited amount of criteria of population size of native speakers as well as the number of countries that have a significant amount of speakers in that country. Given those criteria, Spanish was the most useful language to learn.
For awhile now, I have wanted to do that again, but with another set of criteria. Then one day I was watching one of my favorite shows, The Amazing Race, and I was thinking about how those who happen to know the local language (or can talk to someone who is fluent in English to translate for them) often get an edge up by getting around the countries more efficiently. Then I had the idea, which languages would be the most useful to learn if you were competing on The Amazing Race? So here we go….
Since we are on the 20th season which hasn’t finished yet, I decided to not count that season yet. I also threw out English since the requirement to be on the show is a US passport which means you must already have a strong command of English. I gave each language one point every time they went to the country. There was no extra points for staying in the country for more than one leg or anything like that. One point per language. I also included languages that would have been helpful in that country, like French in French Canada or Spanish in cuban areas of Florida.
Before I get into the countdown, there are some languages that I would like to mention that didn’t make the top 5. Hindi got 6th place which also got 6th place in my other countdown. Very interesting! Italian and Portuguese got 6 point and 7 points respectively. They didn’t make the list, but are very useful in the race as well. Finally Thai received 5 points which is one more point than Japanese. So about every 4 seasons they go to Thailand.
Now the list you have all been waiting for….
French scored number 5 on my last countdown. Which is very interesting. It scored 10 points, half of those were in France itself and the other 5 were in French-speaking countries. The dialects are going to be slightly different, but you would be able to communicate for sure. I found some interesting places that speak french including a few countries in Africa. I am not the most global aware person, so this is probably not a surprise to most, but I still found it very interesting.
Arabic was also number 4 in my last list. Very interesting that I would come to the same conclusion by different means. Arabic scored 11 points. Over the last 19 seasons, it was used in 11 countries. Once again, many were not ones I had heard before. This has been a ver big eye opener for me on which countries speak which languages.
This is the language that was the biggest surprise to me. In the Race they don’t typically go to Germany, but they do go to several German-speaking countries. Once again, I knew Austria spoke German, but I didn’t know that there were so many other countries that spoke German as their main language. The German language has such a strong influence on many countries and if you take into account the languages that have similarities to English and German, than you have increased your ability to communicate in Europe immensely!
This language was used many times in the Amazing Race over the years. The very first season brought them to China and they went back several other seasons. They also went to Taiwan and Singapore which use it quite heavily. They only use it once per season, but with 13 points that means almost every season has used Mandarin speaking country in it so far. This of course leads us to the most useful language to learn……
It’s a spanish blog, so of course I wouldn’t devout a whole post to this subject if Spanish wasn’t in it somewhere. Spanish received 21 points. Some seasons will have 5 or 6 countries that use Spanish as the primary language and other seasons will have only 1 or Two. There were a few seasons that they never went to a Spanish-speaking country, but they used it in a Spanish-speaking part of the US. The first season is the one time they didn’t use Spanish at all.
There you go, I am on the right track to getting myself on the Amazing race….now I just need someone to go with.