Monday, October 10, 2011

10 Unique Languages to Learn

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Words are a lot like people: they can excite us, disappoint us, comfort and anger us. They are as powerful as any physical reaction and and can be just as influential. With so many diverse languages throughout the world, including those still being discovered, how do you decide which languages to study and learn?
To help you make that decision, GoAbroad is featuring some the most unique languages to study. These top 10 selections are based on what students are searching for on GoAbroad, and will get you thinking outside the box when it comes to program selection. Learning a new language, or improving your current skills, is a great way to improve job opportunities and become a better global communicator. Is there a particular language that sparks your interest?


Originating from the Aymara People of the Andes, the Aymaran language boasts over two million native speakers and is one of the official languages of Peru and Bolivia. Before the 16th century Spanish conquests, Aymara was a much more dominant language, but it soon faced competition from speakers of Spanish and Quechua. Despite this setback, the Aymara native language still remains in use and thriving throughout locations of South America. Check out all ways you can study the Aymaran language!


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Related to the Finnic branch of Finno-Ugric group of languages, and also influenced by German, Russian, Swedish and Latvian, the Estonian language is recognized as the official language of Estonia with over 1.1 million speakers and thousands of others outside the country. The oral traditions of Estonia have proved essential to preserving stories and customs, and the Estonian language continues to recognize this with its variety of dialects and grammar usage. There are lots of places that you can study Estonian!


The name of the Flemish language is quite deceiving. Although it's a commonly used term, Flemish is an informal way of referring to any Dutch language spoken in Belgium (also called “Belgian Dutch”). There are a variety of Dutch dialects in Belgium, with Flemish used as the general term to encompass the East and West Flemish accents. This is a language that can be very colorful and is a mark of originality to the Flemish people. And there are great locations in which you can learn Flemish!


Albania is one of Lonely Planet's to countries to visit in 2011! If you're looking to learn a language that has roots centuries deep, Albanian is the choice for you. With over seven million speakers of the language spread across the world, this Indo-European language can be found in isolated village of southern Italy all the way to Canada and The United States. The rich linguistic history and literary merits of Albanian make this language a great study, no matter your skill level. Take a look at all the options for learning Albanian!


The Waray-Waray language, also commonly spelled “Warai”, is a language spoken in the Philippines throughout provinces like Samar, and Northern and Eastern Samar. It has a total of 3.4 million speakers and is among the ten officially recognized regional languages in the Philippines. If you find yourself abroad in the Philippines, keep an ear out for the tones of Warai, as it is widely used in radio and television media.


Irish Gaelic is the better known name for this language, and while it used to be the original language of the Irish, it is more common nowadays to be spoken as a second language. However, some Irish still speak it as a first language, and it is recognized as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland. The lyrical and rolling brogues are recognizable distinctions of Irish Gaelic and hark back to Ireland's culture and heritage. If you have Irish heritage or are interested in Irish culture, consider learning Irish Gaelic!

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Cantonese is a well-known dialect of Yue Chinese and is spoken by around 71 million people throughout southeast China and beyond. From Hong Kong to Vietnam, Malaysia and thousands of overseas Chinese communities, Cantonese is one of the most widely spoken Chinese dialects. Because it also appears in a variety correspondence, this language is ideal to learn in its written and spoken form. And there are plenty of places to begin learning Cantonese!


As another Indo-European language, Danish belongs to the North Germanic group which also includes other Nordic languages. Over time it has integrated thousands of words from other foreign languages, creating spelling rules that change often. The language is spoken by around six million people, many of whom are located in Denmark -- and who also can use their language to communicate with some of their German, Norwegian and Swedish neighbors. With so many subgroups of dialects, there are a variety of opportunities to learn and perfect your Danish language skills.


Don't let the size of Slovenia fool you. This country boasts over 32 different dialects of the Slovenian language and around two million speakers worldwide. It is one of the official languages of the European Union and much of its diversity can be attributed to the mountainous regions of Slovenia, which isolates regions of the country from others—thus creating different patterns of language development. Not only are there some great places to learn Slovenian, it can be a valuable language to have in today's marketplace!



If you thought grammar could be complex, you haven't tried Hungarian! With up to 238 forms of nouns alone, the Hungarian language is rich with learning opportunities. As the official language of Hungary, it is spoken by over 16 million people worldwide and is classified as a Uralic language. The 18th and 19th centuries were a flourishing time for Hungarian literature, so you'll never be at a loss when exploring the history of this dynamic language in any one of the available Hungarian language programs!
Learning any of these languages will set you apart from the crowd and make you a valuable asset in the job market. In some cases, there are scholarships available to help finance your learning of less commonly taught languages.