These are the Best Cities to Learn a Language
Thinking about learning a new language? Great!
Downloaded Duolingo but not getting very far? Well, we think that the best way to learn another language is to go and actually visit a city that speaks the tongue that you’re trying to learn.
We know that picking the right place to go can be overwhelming though, to say the least, and not all destinations offer the same opportunity for learning their lingo.
For example, some cities are renowned for their locals being incredibly friendly and willing to speak to foreigners, which will be a great benefit for anyone looking to improve their speaking skills.
On the other hand, some cities might also be considered unsafe for foreigners, particularly those who haven’t fully grasped the native tongue yet as this could leave them vulnerable.
That’s why we’ve decided to put together an index of the best cities around the world to learn a language, analysing a number of important factors.
This includes the number of language schools in the city, where you can either enrol as a student to learn the native language yourself or as a teacher yourself and improve your own language skills by interacting with locals.
The average cost of living for one month because, well, the less expensive the better, and the digital nomad/workation community rating so that you can meet and make friends with other like-minded individuals.
We also looked at the friendliness towards foreigners and the safety of each city, for the reasons mentioned above.
1. Taipei, Taiwan
Taking first place for the best city to learn a foreign language is Taiwan’s capital city. The city scored five out of five for its friendliness to foreigners, meaning you’re very likely to find locals willing to help you improve your lingo. And when it comes to how safe you’re likely to be when in Taipei, the city scored 85.03 out of 100 for how safe it is, ranking fourth overall for this factor. Taipei scored 94.14 out of 100 for how safe people feel walking alone during daylight and 86.77 out of 100 for feeling safe at night.
The city is home to 125 language schools for language learners to choose from and the score for the digital nomad / workation community in the city was four out of five so you’re likely to meet other like-minded individuals. Spending a month in Taipei is likely to set you back around £1,764 for accommodation and dining out too, making it the 44th cheapest city in the study.
2. Warsaw, Poland
In silver medal position is Poland’s capital, Warsaw. Of the top three, the city scored the highest for the number of language schools, boasting an impressive 213 of them. Interestingly though, the city actually has the smallest number of language schools of any of the other Polish cities included. The city ranked as the joint-safest Polish city to visit though, scoring 74.21 out of 100 alongside Krakow.
Warsaw also scored joint-highest for its digital nomad / workation community, scoring four of five, again alongside Krakow. Where Warsaw did beat Krakow though, was its friendliness to foreigners, scoring four out of five for this factor, meaning that you’re much more likely to find people here to practice your language skills on.
3. Zagreb, Croatia
Rounding up the top three is the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb. When it comes to costs, Zagreb is the cheapest city in the top three, and of the European cities in this study, at around £1,346 a month for accommodation and eating out. It scored four of five for both its friendliness to foreigners and its digital nomad / workation community. Zagreb is also home to 154 language schools, giving language learners in the city plenty of options to choose from.
The city also secured a top 20 position for how safe it is, scoring 77.78 out of 100 and 79.15 out of 100 for how safe people feel walking around the city alone during nighttime. However, Dubrovnik did score slightly higher for this factor, ranking 7th overall with its score of 81.87 out of 100 for safety.
Best Cities To Learn Specific Languages
And when it comes to specific languages, we’ve highlighted which cities are best to learn each lingo where locals speak it as their mother tongue.
English: Sydney, Australia
Interestingly, it was not a city in England that was the highest-ranking English-speaking destination. Instead, it was Sydney in Australia, which ranked eighth overall. It scored particularly well for its friendliness to foreigners, scoring five out of five. Australians are renowned for loving sports – be it cricket, rugby or surfing, and this brings a feeling of camaraderie and friendship.
Sydney also scored four out of five for its digital nomad / workation community, with lots of young travellers visiting the country on the working holiday maker visa – the age bracket of which has now just been extended to 35 years old. Sydney has an average annual temperature of around 21.7°C and plenty of beaches along the coastline to enjoy the sunshine whilst practising your English, of course!
Spanish: Malaga, Spain
When it comes to learning Spanish, Malaga was the highest-ranking Spanish-speaking city in the index. The city scored the highest of all of the Spanish cities in the study for its friendliness to foreigners, being the only one to score five out of five. It is also one of the safest cities in Spain, scoring only below Madrid with a score of 71 out of 100.
Anyone considering visiting Malaga to improve their Spanish will also enjoy the city’s warm climate with the average annual temperature being 23°C during the day – one of the warmest in Europe. However, when it comes to cost, the average month in Malaga will cost you around £2,657 for accommodation and eating out each day. If cost is your main concern, Peru’s capital, Lima, is ranked as the cheapest Spanish-speaking city with an average cost of £1,048 per month.
German: Munich, Germany
Scoring tenth overall but the highest German-speaking city is Munich. The city ranked as the safest city in Germany, and the 11th safest in the entire study, scoring 79.97 out of 100. Munich also ranked highly for its friendliness to foreigners and the number of language schools in the city, with 180 to choose from. Those learning German here can enjoy the centuries-old buildings and numerous museums in Bavaria’s capital.
Munich is certainly not the cheapest city to live in though, both out of just the German cities as well as the entire study. On average, it will cost you around £3,533 to live in Munich with accommodation and eating out, whereas Stuttgart is the cheapest and costs around £1,000 less per month.
Italian: Milan, Italy
Italy’s northern city of Milan took the title of the highest-ranking Italian-speaking city, despite only ranking 104th overall. The city did rank well for its friendliness to foreigners and the digital nomad / workation community though, scoring four out of five for both of these factors.
When it comes to other Italian cities, Milan ranked in the middle ground for how expensive it is with an average cost of £3,918 for one month of accommodation and dining out. And despite ranking first overall for Italian cities, it also scored in the middle for how safe it is, with a score of 50.66 out of 100, ranking 126th for this factor.
Portuguese: São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo, taking 47th position overall, was the highest-ranking Portuguese-speaking city in the study. The city scored five out of five for its friendliness to foreigners, which again was the highest of all the other Portuguese-speaking cities apart from Braga in Portugal. The Brazilian city is also home to the most language schools of any of the Portuguese-speaking cities, with an impressive 186 to choose from.
One thing to bear in mind though is that São Paulo scored quite low on the safety ranking, lower than any of the cities in Portugal, with a score of 29.41 out of 100. Coimbra is the safest Portuguese-speaking city with a score of 79.05. Yet, despite this low score, São Paulo was still the highest-ranking Portuguese-speaking city overall.
However, the city is one of the more expensive cities in the study with one month costing around £3,776 on average for accommodation and eating out. Only Paris, Nice, and Vancouver are more expensive, so if cost is your main factor for choosing a destination, Montpellier, the cheapest French-speaking city, might be more appealing.
Dutch: Amsterdam, Netherlands
When it comes to learning Dutch, Amsterdam was the highest-ranking city where it is the native language. When it comes to friendliness, the city scored five out of five as well as four out of five for the digital nomad / workation community there. The city is also home to 197 language schools, which ranked it 26th overall.
For safety, Amsterdam scored 70.49 out of 100, just missing out on a top 50 spot for this factor. It is one of the most expensive cities in the study though, scoring 172nd out of 182 cities, with the average month here will cost you over £4,800 for rent and dining out each meal.
Arabic: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Anyone wanting to learn Arabic should consider visiting Dubai, which was the highest-ranking Arabic-speaking city in the study. The city scored a top 20 position, ranking 19th overall and fourth in Asia behind only Taipei, Bangkok and Kathmandu.
The city is one of the safest in the study, with its score of 83.76 out of 100 securing it fifth position for this factor. It’s certainly not one of the cheapest cities though, as spending a month here with accommodation and dining out will likely set you back around £2,644.
To find out the best cities to learn a language, we first collated a list of all of the main cities in each country in the world and then analysed each on the below factors:
- The number of language schools – double-weighted.
- The friendliness to foreigners score (out of five).
- The average cost of living for one month.
- The digital nomad/workation community score (out of five).
- The safety score (out of 100) – double-weighted.
We used a variety of credible sources to find data for each of the above categories including Google Maps, Nomadlist, and Numbeo, and then ranked the cities from first to last based on this data.
Both the number of language schools and the safety score of the city were double-weighted as we deem these the two most important factors.
Cities, where a full dataset was not available, were omitted from the index.
The data was gathered in June 2023. The full dataset and source list are available upon request.