What languages should children learn if they want the best chances of success in life?

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English remains firmly at the top of the list of languages useful for travel (spoken in 106 different countries).

If sheer numbers of speakers is our primary consideration, and we want our children to learn languages that have the most speakers, then – excluding English – the three most commonly spoken languages are Mandarin (898 million), Spanish (437 million) and Arabic (295 million).

Young children are still using their individual, innate language-learning strategies to acquire their home language and soon find they can also use these strategies to pick up English.

Children who have the opportunity to pick up a second language while they are still young appear to use the same innate language-learning strategies throughout life when learning other languages. Picking up third, fourth, or even more languages is easier than picking up a second.

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