One of the things about the internet is that it makes almost any language available to you. It’s possible to study some of the more obscure languages from any internet connected computer. But how should you choose a language to study? I think the first language you study should be one that will be most useful and the easiest to work into your day to day routine. (read my languages learning routine post)
What does this mean?
Well… I guess it means that learning Indonesian probably shouldn’t be your first language study choice here in the United States. (Unless you’re planning travel to Indonesia, or have relatives there, live near a large immigrant community, etc.) For most people in the United States I would suggest Spanish as a good second language to study.
The reason for this is pure and simple – there are just so many opportunities to practice it almost anywhere in the United States. Due to the massive immigration we’ve seen in recent years there are Spanish language tv networks, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines distributed in the United States. Not to mention that many stores have put up signs in English and Spanish and there’s the opportunity (and in some cases the need) to communicate with Spanish speaking people on a frequent basis.
I’m not saying you should never learn the more obscure languages, but part of the key to success in language learning is to find ways to use it every day to reinforce your learning. You certainly can learn more obscure languages but unless you force yourself to retain them they will likely fade quickly.