My main motivation for learning a language is so that I can communicate with people using a language different from my native- English-, but while I'm on here willing to help people improve their English I'd love to 'test' out other languages and try to find one that really resonates with me.
Since I don't know which language to learn, I was wondering if there was anyone willing to take on a complete beginner in exchange for help with English?
I hope you don't mind some friendly advice from someone whose studied a lot of languages. Some I stuck with to mastery and some I dropped after only a short period of time. The main difference between these two types of languages ? Despite what you might initially think, it had nothing to do with the degree of difficulty of the language. It all came down to keeping long-term motivation.
Just keep in mind that "mastering" a foreign language (if that is your goal) is a very long term investment (years for most people) and (at least for myself ) being able to stay motivated for that long all came down to following questions:
1) Am I interested drawn to the countries where this language is spoken ? Are they places I am really excited about visiting, or perhaps even studying, working or living there ?
2) Do I find the language aesthetically pleasing (i.e. Do I like the sound of it) ?
3) Is this a language that I will be able to speak/practice on a regular basis ? (This is a biggie for me. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than going to all of the trouble of learning a language and NEVER getting to have any fun actually speaking it.)
My personal experience is that if I cannot answer yes to the majority of those questions, then it is difficult to remain motivated long enough to achieve mastry of any given language.
I wish you much luck in choosing your new language and especially much enjoyment and fun in learning it !
I'm always pleased to see fellow native English speakers who want to communicate with others in their own language, and not just be complacent and expect others to speak our tongue. I applaud you.
I think the comments above cover a number of good points to consider.
In my experience, I've found myself caught between two similar languages, Spanish and Italian, which causes me no end of confusion. I studied Spanish in school, but as an adult I went to Italy and fell in love with the people and the country. I decided to learn Italian and at one time I was fairly good. But Italian is not spoken widely in the US, so my skills eroded. So I thought maybe I should focus on Spanish again, since we have many Spanish speakers in the US.
Anyway, my advice is to sort though some languages using the tips above, but once you've chosen it commit yourself to it. Stay with it until you have a working conversational knowledge. That will take a lot of focused effort.
But it will be worth it.
Make sure that the language some how reflects who you are. For example, I fell in love with French because my mother spoke it as a second language and I have a lot of family members in Quebec who speak it. Also, my third year studying it I met a foreign exchange student from France and the motivation to refine and use my language increased even more. I'm also planning on self-teaching myself Spanish once I reach a solid C1 in French because the very same year I made an excellent friend from Spain and there are many mexican restauraunts around here with plenty of opportunities to practice. For me, language learning is about being able to communicate with friends in their own language to better communicate and understand who they are and where they come from :) Motivation is defiitely a key factor though. If the language isn't fun to learn and feels like a chore than more than likely, it's not worth your time. Never give up. If you ever feel as though you're wasting your time look up how many native speakers there are of your target language and realize that's how many more people you can communicate with. That's a wonderful thing :)
I'll agree with Aboujad, and say that as long as you have strong, sustainable motivation and time, you will succeed. On the other hand, if you don't, you won't. Pay careful attention to the "time" part of the equation. The rule of thumb I always give people - if you can't devote at least an hour a day to a language, you probably won't ever learn it to a high level (C1/C2). Good luck!
I have to agree with all of the comments already made. Since you live in the U.K. you are not too far from France, which in my humble opinion is the most beautiful language any woman could speak :)