The 7 coolest languages to learn in 2023

December 18, 2023

So you want to learn a language, but you’re not sure which language is the absolute coolest to learn?

We asked our language experts to share their top choices, and they gave us their ideas about which language will earn you the most street-cred.

Take a read through the candidates below, then decide which language takes the top spot as the coolest language to learn.

Here’s our list of contenders for coolest language

1.     French

Expert’s opinion: “Learning French is learning ‘la joie de vivre’, the joy of living well: being on a terrace of a café, enjoying time with friends and family. It’s a language of culture and romance. It’s no surprise that Paris is one of the most popular spots in the world to propose.”

To learn French is to learn about fashion, gastronomy, architecture, philosophy, arts and science. Think Coco Chanel, Jean-Paul Sartre, Claude Monet and so many others, not to mention an incredible tradition of highly awarded chefs. 

But that’s not all – it’s also super handy. French is a diplomatic language – used by the United Nations, NATO, UNESCO, and beyond – and it’s one of only two languages spoken on every continent, the other being English.

Cool French words

flâneuraimless walking

2.     Spanish

Expert’s opinion: “Spanish has got ‘cool’ covered. Some of the most awesome songs are in Spanish. Look at ‘Despacito’, possibly the most listened to song of all time. Plus, if you’re a fan of sports, you’ve got to learn Spanish. Spain, Central and South America are full of sports fanatics!”

Spanish is a versatile language that opens up a world of possibilities for new speakers. After all, there are around 483 million native Spanish speakers. Plus, speakers of the Spanish language worldwide have amazing traditions of gastronomy (from tacos to Ibérico ham!) and art.

Plus, there are so many amazing Spanish books to read – like Don Quixote by Cervantes, the world’s first modern novel, and the works of Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, to name a few. 

Or you can watch great films by some of the most highly-acclaimed directors of our time, like Guillermo del Toro, Pedro Almodóvar and Alfonso Cuarón. (And many of those Spanish movies happen to be on Netflix!)

When it comes to Spanish-speaking culture-makers, the list is endless! And Spanish is refreshingly phonetic, making it one of the easier languages to learn. Once you know how to read it, you can look at any Spanish word and know how it is pronounced. How cool is that?  Spanish also has some cool words that don’t exist in English, try adding them to your vocabulary.

Cool Spanish words

¡Orale!Go for it!
la madrugadathe very early morning
la sobremesathe after-dinner conversation
buena ondagood vibes

3.     Japanese 

Expert’s opinion: “Learning Japanese is key to accessing the real thing! Japanese culture, Japanese food, and Japan as a travel destination are often featured in the media these days, but there’s so much more to discover. For example, sushi comes in all shapes and forms in Japan, it’s so much more varied than many non-Japanese people might know, with access to different ingredients depending on what part of Japan you’re in. If you want to really get the inside scoop, you need to talk to the Japanese people, and to do that, you’ll need to speak the language, for sure!”

Japanese is a cool language from so many different angles. 

It gives the speaker access to Japan’s amazing culture, from creators at the forefront of contemporary art to traditional Japanese composers and artists to anime and manga. Anime has become so big, some hardcore anime fans are even learning Japanese with anime – with some success!

Japanese food is also iconic – think ramen, sushi, tempura and so much more. And the country itself is full of different breathtaking landscapes, from chilly Hokkaido in the north to subtropical Okinawa in the south. 

But Japanese is also linguistically cool. It has three different alphabets, and vocabulary changes based on context. Our resident expert told us that, in Japanese, pronouns change based on politeness, gender, age, and so on: “So you can be like a chameleon, transforming yourself by using a different ‘I’, depending on the situation you are in, or even how you feel!” 

Cool Japanese words

馬鹿 or ばか bakaidiot, jackass, dumbass, unthinking fool
生きがい ikigai your reason for living
わびさび wabi-sabi an appreciation of the beauty of imperfections and impermanence.
ツンデレ tsunderea person who swings between emotionally hot and cold, in particular when dealing with a love interest.
三日坊主 mikka Bōzu 3-day monk

4.     Chinese

Expert’s opinion: “Chinese is a great language to learn, with so many fun things to excite language learners. While people unfamiliar with China tend to think of it as a monolith, there are actually 56 nationalities within China, and each one has its own culture, food and lifestyle. Which reminds me, the food is definitely a big selling point: what many people think of when they think of Chinese food only represents a small portion of the cuisine. There are so many different dishes and exciting flavours to explore!”

When it comes to learning Mandarin Chinese, it’s hard to choose just one or two points to highlight. China has had a huge historical influence, in other Asian countries and around the world. History buffs will never want for something new to learn about the history of China. Plus, it’s insanely useful, as the second most spoken language in the world (1,117 million speakers worldwide) and one of the six official languages of the UN.

Plus, China and the Chinese language encompass the fastest growing film market in the world, the cities of China are on the cutting edge of fashion and street style, and when it comes to culture, well, what’s cooler than the uber popular China-based app, TikTok? 

Cool Chinese words

Psst: one more thing that makes Chinese an awesome language: there are words whose Chinese characters look an awful lot like their meaning! Check out these two examples:  

山 :mountain: mountain

Already know which language you think is the coolest?

Busuu’s award-winning app offers 13 languages, so whichever one takes your fancy, you can start learning for free today.

5.     German

Expert’s opinion: “There’s so much on offer for German learners. Obviously, there’s all the business and education opportunities, German websites and academic literature, plus the possibility to read famous authors, poets, philosophers, psychologists (think Freud and Jung) in their native language, and get a better understanding of the works of famous German composers (maybe you’ve heard of Beethoven?). Not to speak of Rammstein and Scooter!”

While German grammar is notoriously the wurst (pun fully intended), once you understand how it works, the language can actually be quite playful.

Just adding prefixes can change the meaning of a verb slightly, giving you a whole family of words based on the same verb. For example, machen is to make (or to do), but then there’s aufmachen (to “make it open”, or “to open”), zumachen (to “make it shut”, or “to close”), abmachen (to “make it loose”)… and the list goes on. Fun, right?

German also uses a lot of combined words – some of which may perfectly describe things you never quite had the word for. For instance, Kummerspeck, literally “sorrow bacon”, is the weight you put on when you’re sad and eat emotionally. That’s just one example, but there are so many funny German words to learn! 

Cool German words

Feierabendcelebrating the end of the workday
Schadenfreudepleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.
Mahlzeit!a greeting at lunch time
Wanderlusta strong desire to travel

6.      Brazilian Portuguese

Expert’s opinion: “Brazilian Portuguese is the definition of cool. I mean, the language is a mixture of many different languages and cultures. Obviously it’s mostly Portuguese, but there’s a ton of influence from local Indigenous languages, African languages, plus French, Dutch, English, Italian, German… And depending on where you are in Brazil, you’ll get a bit of all of that in more or less intensity. What’s cooler than so many different people coming together to make something spectacular?”

The language of Brazil is reflective of the culture, where so many different peoples, food traditions and ideas come together. Brazilian Portuguese is a big old mixing pot, taking influence from a myriad of languages. 

This means there are tons of words and expressions unique to the country. Let’s look at the word saudade. Notoriously known as one of the most difficult words to translate, it’s an abstract noun for a kind of longing and can be used to speak about anything, from homesickness to missing someone to nostalgia for the past.

And if that’s not reason enough, Brazilian Portuguese is the language gateway to Carnival, the biggest party in the world! What’s cooler than that?

Cool words in Brazilian Portuguese

saudadelonging, love, melancholy
gostosadelicious (also means attractive)
lindezasomeone who is nice and pretty
fadofate or destiny
fofocute and soft

7. English

Expert’s opinion: “English is the most studied language in the world, and is spoken across the globe in many different contexts. You’ll never be stuck for a language exchange buddy, and it’s impossible to run out of learning resources – just turn on the TV or the radio! Plus, English is a pluricentric language, which means that it has many different forms. Wherever you go, you can find fabulous accents. You only have to travel a few miles in the UK to hear a new one.”

It’s safe to say you’ll never be bored when learning English. It’s a language that takes a variety of forms, in use worldwide, but rarely in exactly the same way from place to place. During your travels, you’re likely to encounter tons of different varieties of the language, from Singlish (Singaporean English) to Cajun English (spoken from Louisiana to Texas) and beyond. In fact, the New York City area alone has its own dialect of English! Plus, it’s the single most spoken language in the world, so in terms of usefulness, English may just take the cake. 

And one of the coolest things about English? Its penchant for portmanteaus (don’t worry, spelling portmanteau is more complicated than the idea it represents!). A portmanteau is where you mix two words to make a new one. 

This process gives us words like freegan (a mix of free and vegan, meaning someone who only eats food they haven’t paid for) and brunch (a combination of breakfast and lunch, best understood with a mimosa).

Oh, and then there’s Shakespeare, The Beatles, Stephen King, Hollywood, Jazz, Biggie Smalls, and, well, lots of other English-language culture that’s influential worldwide for the coolness factor.

Cool English words

eavesdropoverhear others conversation
wigglemove back and forth

And there you have it! That’s our list of the seven coolest languages to learn. What do you think? Which one of our experts convinced you that their language is the coolest one?

Whichever one you choose, you’ll open the door into a world of new food, friends and culture. And that’s the epitome of cool!

Languages open the doors to new adventures 

Have you figured out which language will take you to the coolest places? Jump straight in with Busuu.

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