If you traveled across the world, you could experience 6,900 different languages being spoken by the earth’s 6.5 billion inhabitants. If you wanted to select a language that would increase your odds of being able to converse with another of those inhabitants, choosing Hindi (the second most spoken language, with a total of 490 million speakers) or Arabic (the fifth most spoken language, with an estimated 255 million speakers) would be a good bet. To learn both the artistically drawn alphabets each language uses, plus the most common phrases, nouns and sentences, educate yourself through self-paced study or consult trained experts.
Pick up a beginner book on Hindi, such as “Learn Hindi” by Pratibha Khare, “Elementary Hindi” by Richard Delacy and Sudha Joshi and “Say It in Hindi” by Veena Talwar Oldenburg or an introductory textbook for Arabic such as “Arabic for Dummies” by Amine Bouchentouf, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Arabic” by K.F. Habel and “Read and Speak Arabic for Beginners” by Jane Wightwick. Books are available from online retailers such as Book Closeouts, Borders and Barnes and Noble and in standard bookstores. Check your library for an online book ordering system; you maybe able to order books from any regional library system and have them delivered to your local one free of charge.
Review free online Arabic lessons such as Babel’s Arabic tutoring pages on saying hello and goodbye, writing skills plus specific words for scenarios such as coffee shops and fixing cars. Unilang offers Hindi lessons on basic phrases, pronouns, genders, verbs, adjectives and numbers, plus the Devangari script used by Indians to write in the Hindi language.
Listen to spoken word CDs or audio books featuring the Hindi and Arabic languages, such as “A Beginners Course in Spoken Arabic” by Haida H. Harb, “Ultimate Arabic Beginner” by Living Language, “Teach Yourself Beginner’s Hindi” by Rupert Snell and “Get By in Hindi and Urdu” by Alison Shaw. Online mass merchandisers such as Amazon and Best Buy sell audio books; you can also find them through specialty Arabic and Hindi websites. If you prefer to listen to instruction on the go, consider downloading a podcast, which is a pre-recorded lesson or discussion. Websites such as Free Language offer topics such as "Namaste Dosti: The Learn Hindi Podcast for Grammar and Vocabulary for Beginners" you can listen to on your portable music player or home computer.
Enroll in a local community college adult education course in Arabic or Hindi, such as the ones offered by Arapahoe Community College, which offers four levels of Arabic training, with subjects such as understanding questions and instructions, simple oral expressions, correct grammar, writing simple sentences and gaining an awareness of appropriate cultural behaviors. Beginner/introductory adult education classes are usually short-term, held in the evening, and do not have prerequisites. If you prefer to learn from home, online language courses are available from websites such as Word 2 Word, offering both Hindi and Arabic.
Check your local newspaper or a group meeting website such as Meetup or Craigslist for postings on Hindi and Arabic clubs. Language clubs are usually open to both novice and native speakers, where you can come and soak up the conversation and even inquire about getting a mentor or someone to teach you one-on-one.