Top 7 Most Spoken Languages

by | May 12, 2014

Once you decided to learn a new language, it would be useful to know which are the most spoken languages in the world. And if you think that, once you speak English, the next language you could learn should be German or French, think again.
Here we have the Top 7 list of the most spoken languages in the world. It is interesting to notice that some of the sources consulted for this post mention that Portuguese is officially a second language in Venezuela. Despite the efforts of the actual govern of Venezuela to implement Portuguese in the schools and the vast Portuguese immigration in the country, it won’t be accurate to consider this as an official second language of the country.
1. Mandarin
Number of native speakers: 845 million
Approximate number of speakers (including second language speakers): 1052 million
Official language in: People’s Republic of China, Republic of China, Singapore
Surprise, surprise, the most widely spoken language on the planet is based in the most populated country on the planet. but don’t let that lull you into thinking that Mandarin is easy to learn. Speaking Mandarin can be really tough, because each word can be pronounced in four ways (or “tones”), and a beginner will invariably have trouble distinguishing one tone from another. But if over a billion people could do it, so could you. Try saying hello!
To say “hello” in Mandarin, say “Ni hao” (Nee HaOW). (“Hao” is pronounced as one syllable, but the tone requires that you let your voice drop midway, and then raise it again at the end.)
2. Spanish
Number of native speakers: 329 million
Number of speakers (including second language speakers): 417 million
Official language in: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, United States (New Mexico, Puerto Rico), Uruguay, Venezuela
Aside from all of those kids who take it in high school, Spanish is spoken in just about every South American and Central American country, not to mention Spain, Cuba, and the U.S. There is a particular interest in Spanish in the U.S., as many English words are borrowed from the language, including: tornado, bonanza, patio, quesadilla, enchilada, and taco grande supreme.
3. English
Number of native speakers: 328 million
Number of speakers (including second language speakers): 508 million
Official language in: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Dominica, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong (People’s Republic of China), India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Maritius, Micronesia, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevs, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somolia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe
While English doesn’t have the most speakers, it is the official language of more countries than any other language. Its speakers hail from all around the world, including New Zealand, the U.S., Australia, England, Zimbabwe, the Caribbean, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Canada. We’d tell you more about English, but you probably feel pretty comfortable with the language already. Let’s just move on to the most popular language in the world.
4. Arabic
Number of native speakers: 221 million
Number of speakers (including second language speakers): 246 million
Official language in: Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Quatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, Yemen
Arabic, one of the world’s oldest languages, is spoken in the Middle East, with speakers found in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Furthermore, because Arabic is the language of the Koran, millions of Moslems in other countries speak Arabic as well. So many people have a working knowledge of Arabic, in fact, that in 1974 it was made the sixth official language of the United Nations.
5. Hindi
Number of native speakers: 182 million
Number of speakers (including second language speakers): 487 million
Official language in: India, Fiji
Hindi is the primary language of India’s crowded population, and it encompasses a huge number of dialects. While many predict that the population of India will soon surpass that of China, the prominence of English in India prevents Hindi from surpassing the most popular language in the world. If you’re interested in learning a little Hindi, there’s a very easy way: rent an Indian movie. The film industry in India is the most prolific in the world, making thousands of action/romance/musicals every year.
6. Bengali
Number of native speakers: 181 million
Number of speakers (including second language speakers): 211 million
Official language in: Bangladesh, India (Tripura, West Bengal)
In Bangladesh, a country of 120+ million people, just about everybody speaks Bengali. And because Bangladesh is virtually surrounded by India (where the population is growing so fast, just breathing the air can get you pregnant), the number of Bengali speakers in the world is much higher than most people would expect.
7. Portuguese
Number of native speakers: 178 million
Number of speakers (including second language speakers): 213 million
Official language in: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Macau (People’s Republic of China), Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé e Príncipe
Think of Portuguese as the little language that could. In the 12th Century, Portugal won its independence from Spain and expanded all over the world with the help of its famous explorers like Vasco da Gama and Prince Henry the Navigator. (Good thing Henry became a navigator . . . could you imagine if a guy named “Prince Henry the Navigator” became a florist?) Because Portugal got in so early on the exploring game, the language established itself all over the world, especially in Brazil (where it’s the national language), Macau, Angola, Venezuela, and Mozambique.

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