10 Most Spoken Languages in the World

10 Most Spoken Languages in the World
Ziqiao is a France-based multilingual who speaks English, Korean, French, and Chinese fluently. She persued a degree in Korean-French translation and is passionate about learning different languages. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and language learning experience with LingoDeer blog readers.

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

10 most spoken languages in the world

1. English (1,132 million speakers)

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

English is the official language of the largest number of countries in the world. It is the lingua franca of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and is also widely spoken in the Caribbean, Africa and parts of South Asia. It is the third most spoken language in the world by native speakers after Chinese and Spanish, and the first foreign language learned by the largest number of people.

Related reading: Top English Learning Resources

2. Mandarin(1,118 million speakers)

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

Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world, with one fifth of the world’s population currently speaking it as their mother tongue, and it has been spoken for over 3,000 years. 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.

10 Most Spoken Languages in the World

3. Hindi (602 million speakers)

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

It is one of the official languages of India, the world’s second most populous country, but due to India’s ethnic culture, not all Indians speak Hindi. Hindi is also an important minority language in Fiji, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Arab Emirates.

4. Spanish (549 million speakers)

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

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 people learning Spanish. And language experts have found that because of the similarity between Spanish and English, it only takes 22-24 weeks for native English speakers to achieve proficiency in what is known as a general professional language.

5. French (274 million speakers)

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

French is the official language of 29 countries and many international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the Olympics, the WTO and the International Red Cross. Due to the historical influence of French and Belgian colonization, French has become a second language in most African countries.

Related reading: Best Way to Learn French

6. Bengali (273 million speakers)

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

It is the official language of Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal Tripura, Assam (Barak Valley) and Jharkhand, with a population of about 220 million speakers, and is the second most spoken language in the Indo-Iranian language family after Hindi.

7. Arabic (620 million speakers)

  • Native speakers: 350 million 
  • Non-native speakers: 270 million
  • Language family: Afro-Asiatic; Semitic

Arabic is the official language of 27 states, second only to English and French. And is one of the languages of many countries that no longer exist today. To this day, it 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. So many Arabic speakers also need to learn Modern Standard Arabic in school.

10 Most Spoken Languages in the World

8. Russian (258 million speakers)

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

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

9. Portuguese (258 million speakers)

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

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 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. 

10. Indonesian (199 million speakers)

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

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, and 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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