Did you know there are thousands of languages spoken in the world? Each language has its own unique words, nuances and expressions that help you understand the culture of the people who speak it. But among all those languages, some are more widely spoken than others. Here are the top 10 languages in the world* and where they are spoken.
If you’re reading this, we’re going to assume you’re an English speaker. That makes you a speaker of the most spoken language in the world! English is spoken by 1.35 billion people. Five of the largest countries in the world that speak English are:
- United States
- United Kingdon
- New Zealand
The countries above you probably already know about, but you might be surprised to learn that these countries also primarily speak English (they speak an English-based creole)!
- Trinidad & Tobago
- The Bahamas
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
- Saint Kitts & Nevis
Knowing the English language is definitely an advantage when it comes to career opportunities, travel, and anything else really. The possibilities are endless.
However, if you’re not fluent in English, there is no need to stress. Almost a billion people in the world learn English later in life. To get you started, you can check out these common English phrases.
2. Mandarin Chinese
With over 1.1 billion native speakers, Mandarin is the second-most-spoken language in the world. If you choose to learn this language, saying you’ll have plenty of people to talk to is an understatement.
Qiu Gui Su, a Chinese language expert, says that Mandarin is spoken in:
- Mainland China
Mandarin is sometimes spoken in Chinatowns around the world, such as those in San Francisco in the United States and Liverpool in England.
If you want to get started on your Mandarin journey, here are 10 basic Mandarin phrases you could learn today.
The Hindi language has speakers in more than 10 countries. As a matter of fact, Hindi has 615 million speakers.
We bet you didn’t know that you know some Hindi too. If the words shampoo, bungalow, and bandana sound familiar, then congratulations — you know some Hindi words.
Hindi is mainly spoken in India and Nepal. However, there are 649,000 Hindi speakers in the United States. The U.S. has the third-largest group of Hindi speakers in the world. According to World Atlas, Hindi speakers can also be found in many other countries as well, such as:
- Trinidad and Tobago
- South Africa
Spanish is a popular foreign language choice in American high schools and is spoken as a second language by millions of people. Sadly, most of those high school students (like our founder Micah Bellieu!) didn’t become fluent in Spanish by studying vocabulary.
The Spanish language is the fourth-most-spoken language in the world with 534 million speakers.
Spanish is spoken widely in:
- The Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico)
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
If you’re fluent in Spanish, think of all the countries you could travel to! In addition to that, speaking Spanish makes you more employable.
French is another popular second language in American high schools and the third most studied language in the world. French is spoken by 280 million people.
There are so many interesting facts about the French language. Did you know that many English words have French origins? Words like camouflage, money, and jury all have French origins. French also has many “false friends” — words that resemble a word in English, but don’t mean the same thing. For example, un coin (“corner”) and sale (“dirty”).
If you’re planning to visit a French-speaking country, you can go to:
- Ivory Coast
Before you visit them, here are 30 easy French words you can add to your vocabulary.
Did you know that Arabic has over 14 words that describe love? This language is spoken by 274 million native speakers. Studying Arabic will no doubt help you to better understand the culture of the countries that speak it and could open the doors to job opportunities and travel to those countries.
You already know some words that came from the Arabic language. Don’t believe us?
Words like coffee, kebab, and hummus have Arabic origin.
Curious about countries that speak Arabic? The Arabic language is mostly spoken in African countries and Middle Eastern countries such as:
- Saudi Arabia
You may be surprised to know that Bengali is the seventh-most-spoken language in the world. It has 265 million native speakers and is primarily spoken in Bangladesh and India.
Students at some colleges in the U.S. have the option of enrolling in Bengali language courses and even earning a degree. For example, the University of Texas has many Bengali courses.
Russian, the language of space, has around 154 million native speakers. You know a little bit of Russian too. The most popular Russian word adopted by English is probably vodka.
Russia also has words that can’t be directly translated into English. One such word is pochemuchka. According to Language Insight, the word refers to someone who asks too many questions.
The Russian language is mainly spoken in:
Excited to start learning Russian? Check out our Russian guide for beginners.
If you plan to walk the quaint streets of Portugal or dance in Brazil’s carnaval, you may want to pick up some Portuguese words. There are about 232 million native speakers of Portuguese, and around 70 million people speak Portuguese as a second language.
Portuguese is actually highly influenced by Arabic and contains some words like saudade (nostalgic or melancholy longing) that can’t be translated directly to English.
The Portuguese language is spoken in:
- Guinea Bissau
- São Tomé
- Cape Verde
If you’re thinking about learning this language, check out our Portuguese guide for beginners.
With 199 million speakers, Indonesian closes out our list as the 10th-most-spoken language in the world.
Even though it may look super intimidating, the words are easy to pronounce. In addition to that, Indonesian is considered one of the most polite languages. That’s not surprising, because Indonesians are known for their politeness.
If you’re excited to be immersed in the Indonesian language, you can go to Indonesia or East Timor.
Start Learning Another Language
Learning a language could change your life. Whether you’re planning on taking a trip or learning languages for fun, there are so many benefits awaiting you. If you’re ready to take the next step in language learning and get serious about fluency, hire a language tutor. Our language tutors are specially picked to ensure a wonderful language learning experience. You can book your language tutor here and start today.
*This list changes from time to time.