If your inter­ests span the globe, and you’ve read this far, you already know the most use­ful glob­al lan­guage. But if you want anoth­er tru­ly glob­al lan­guage, there are sur­pris­ing­ly few can­di­dates, and for me French is unques­tion­ably top of the list. It can enhance your enjoy­ment of art, his­to­ry, lit­er­a­ture and food, while giv­ing you an impor­tant tool in busi­ness and a use­ful one in diplo­ma­cy. It has native speak­ers in every region on earth. And lest we for­get its heart­land itself, France attracts more tourists than any oth­er country—76.8m in 2010, accord­ing to the World Tourism Organ­i­sa­tion, leav­ing Amer­i­ca a dis­tant sec­ond with 59.7m. Any vis­it there is great­ly enhanced by some grasp of the lan­guage. The French are noth­ing but wel­com­ing when you show them and their coun­try respect, and the occa­sion­al frost that can greet vis­i­tors melts when they come out with their first ful­ly formed sen­tence. So although there are oth­er great lan­guages out there, don’t for­get an easy, com­mon one, with far few­er words to learn than Eng­lish, that is almost cer­tain­ly taught in your town. With French, vous ne regret­terez rien.

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Which is the best language to learn? — The Economist 1843