LanguagesOften, when I speak to black women about their desire to travel, one self-imposed barrier always arises: language. While knowing the language of a country makes traveling more immersive, English is popularly spoken as a second language in numerous countries and many locals will help you navigate their language terrain. Out of respect and acknowledgement of your English-speaking American privilege, you should at least try to learn the basics of the country’s primary language, even if it’s just simple phrases, such as hello, how are you, thank you, and goodbye. I’ve compiled a list of the top five languages that black women should explore on a basic and advanced level. Not only do these languages open up various world regions for travel but also they provide a valuable tool for us to get the most authentic experiences of foreign cultures. Spanish There are approximately 350 million Spanish speakers worldwide. It’s the official language for 21 countries, including popular tourist destinations, such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Honduras and Costa Rica. Not only does Spanish open up your ability to travel and communicate with millions of people across the world, it also offers you more career opportunities than monolingual English speakers. Arabic Over 300 million people natively speak Arabic and it is the official language of over 20 nations. As the Middle East continues to take a place in the spotlight of international affairs, more Arabic speakers are being sought, particularly from the Western world. Between traveling careers such as journalism, business, education, translation, and government intelligence, black women have a prime opportunity to dominate a various emerging markets. Additionally, some of the most beautiful architecture and world wonders exist in the Middle East. Why not enjoy it fully? French It is the third most spoken of the Romance languages and the official language of 25 countries around the world. Over 77 million people speak French and an additional 50 million speak it as a second language. If destinations, such as Senegal, Canada, or Switzerland, appeal to your travel interests, you should pick up a French book as soon as possible! Chinese Enough said that over 1.76 billion people around the world are native Chinese speakers. China currently boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is regarded for cultural staples such as The Great Wall, Confucianism, and martial arts. Admittedly, many students cite Chinese, as an incredibly difficult language to learn, but mastering it, particularly in the Mandarin dialect, will open up numerous career and travel opportunities. Portuguese More than 37% of all slaves from Africa were taken to Brasil. It has a thriving Afro-Brasilian culture, maintaining the second largest concentration of black people next to Nigeria. Not only does Brasil have a burgeoning economy, but also its pristine beaches, colorful architecture, and dance culture will show you a good time. If Brasil or any other Portuguese-speaking nation is on your bucket list, it’s time to take a class!

What languages would you like to learn? Cosign on one of the above or add to the list!

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  • Valerie Ritchie

    This is a correction to my previous post: The foreign language CD’s are by Michel Thomas not Michael Thomas.

  • Eboni

    Hey guys! I speak some Portuguese and Spanish. Trying to become fluent and also learn Korean. South Korea seems like such a fun place to visit!

    Here’s a HUGE suggestion for you guys. Instead of spending a few hundred bucks on Rosetta Stone. Just sign up for LiveMocha.com . It’s a free language site where you can IM and interact with native speakers. They will grade your assignments (writing and speaking) and give you pointers. I highly recommend it! I think it might be tough to use for languages that don’t use the alphabet that we’re used to (I am struggling with Korean and Hindi), but for romance languages it’s great!

  • I speak 9 including English, and Spanish is not one of them. I make good money Arabic and Chinese. We live in a global society and English and Spanish is not going to work if you want to a career with job security.

  • byanymeansnessa

    I would love to learn to speak Yoruba, Swahili, Arabic, and Spanish!!