10 Most Spoken Languages in the World 2022

10 Most Spoken Languages in the World

Language acts as a bridge for communication and development among the peoples of the world. In the globalized world today, there are more than 5000 languages spoken in 233 different countries and regions. Can you imagine that as some languages are slowly disappearing, some are becoming more and more commonly spoken?

So what are the most commonly used languages in the world? In this article, we will take you through the top10 most spoken languages.

10 Most Spoken Languages in the World

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English (1,132 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 360–400 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 750 million
  • Language family: Indo-European
  • Official language in: 59 countries; 27 non-sovereign entities; Various organizations

English is the official language of the largest number of countries and the lingua franca in the world. In terms of native speakers, English is the third most spoken language after Chinese and Spanish. But it’s the most popular language to learn. So adding the number of non-native speakers, English is the most spoken language in the world. According to some statistics, if you know English, then you can understand 25% of internet users and 60% of the websites in the world.

Related reading: Top English Learning Resources

Mandarin(1,118 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 929 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 198.7 million
  • Language family: Sino-Tibetan
  • Official language in: People’s Republic of China (as Putonghua); Singapore (as Huayu); United Nations; Cooperation Organization ASEAN

Mandarin is the world’s most spoken language by native speaker, with one fifth of the world’s population currently speaking it as their mother tongue. And it’s also one of the oldest languages in the world, tracing back to 3,000 years ago. Mandarin was adopted as the official language of China in 1932. It is also the most difficult language in the world, with a complex relationship between pronunciation, spoken and written language.

In fact, Mandarin is not strictly a language, but a combination of group of Chinese dialects, like Wu, Shanghainese, and Cantonese. In many cities in China, people first acquire their local dialects when they were young. They only learn Mandarin in school and continue using it in most public situations as they grow up. While spoken Chinese may vary a lot in different regions, written texts mostly look the same or mutually intelligible.

10 Most Spoken Languages in the World

Hindi (602 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 344 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 258 million
  • Language family: Indo-European
  • Official language in: India

Hindi is one of the official languages of India, the soon-to-be most populous country in the world. But due to India’s ethnic culture, not all Indians speak Hindi. India has 22 official languages and over 100 recognized languages. Hindi is the most used language in India. It is also an important minority language in Fiji, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Arab Emirates.

Spanish (549 million speakers)

  • Native speakers:475 million
  • Non-native speakers: 74 million
  • Language family:Indo-European

Spanish is the official language of 23 countries and territories, the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and many other international organizations. And it is now the second most learned language in the world, with more than 20 million Spanish learners.

According to FSI (the US Foreign Service Institute), it takes about 480 hours of study for a native English speaker to achieve ‘limited working proficiency’ in Spanish. In this sense, Spanish is also one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.

French (274 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 80 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 194 million
  • Language family: Indo-European

French is the official language of 29 countries and many international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union. Due to the historical influence of French and Belgian colonization, French has become a second most used language in most African countries. It is also a popular language to learn as one of the languages that has the largest number of non-native speakers.

Related reading: Best Way to Learn French

Bengali (273 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 234 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 39 million
  • Language family: Indo-European; Indo-Aryan

Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh and some areas in India and Burma. With a population of about 220 million speakers, Bengali is the second most spoken language in the Indo-Iranian language family after Hindi.

Modern Standard Arabic (274 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 0
  • Non-native speakers: 274 million
  • Language family: Afro-Asiatic; Semitic

Arabic is the official language of 27 states, second only to English and French. It is the lingua franca of the Arabic world and one of the languages used by many countries that no longer exist today. To this day, Modern Standard Arabic remains the common religious language of Muslims worldwide.

It is interesting to note that because of the many dialects of Arabic, Arabic in some places is not interchangeable in either written or spoken form. Most speakers learn Modern Standard Arabic as their second language in school.

10 Most Spoken Languages in the World

Russian (258 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 154 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 104 million
  • Language family: Indo-European

Russian is one of the six working languages of the United Nations, the only official language of Russia, as well as one of the official languages of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is spoken mainly in Russia and other member states of the former Soviet Union, and was widely taught as a first foreign language in schools in the Warsaw Pact countries. 

Related reading: Best Way to Learn Russian

Portuguese (258 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 232 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 25 million
  • Language family: Indo-European

Portuguese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world after English and Spanish. As a result of Portuguese colonial expansion, Portuguese is nowadays spoken in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Guinea-Bissau, Timor-Leste and Macau, for a total of nine countries or territories. 

Indonesian (199 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 43 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 156 million
  • Language family: Austronesian

Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is a standardized Malay language. Prior to its standardization, Malay had circulated as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries. After Indonesia’s independence in 1945, Indonesian, whose mother tongue population is only 5% of the total population, was made an official language by the Indonesian government in order to unite the people of Indonesia’s thousands of islands. However, most Indonesians admit that they rarely use standard Indonesian in their daily lives.

Which language interests you the most? Leave a comment below!

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