Which Languages Are Most Spoken Around The World?

How many spoken languages are there around the world? According to the 2018 catalogue by Ethnologue, there are 7,097 distinct languages, analysed in regards to the number of native speakers. Every one of the spoken languages makes the world a much diverse and beautiful place. Let’s have a look together on the Top 5 most spoken languages around the world.

1. Mandarin Chinese

Being the official language of mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore, Mandarin Chinese is by far the most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Mandarin is a tonal and analytic language. The meaning of the word alters with the way it is pronounced. It is also the reason why there are wide internal varieties of Chinese dialects within the single Chinese language. With around 85,568 characters according to the 中華字海 Zhonghua Zihai dictionary, it is also considered as one of the most complex languages to learn.

But here comes the good news:

There are no tenses, no gender-specific nouns, and no verb conjugations to learn. Isn’t Mandarin motivating to learn? Though the number of total characters in Chinese may seem daunting to learn, research suggests that with 2500 characters learnt, you will be able to understand 98.5% of modern Chinese and be able to reach conversational fluency. This might also be the reason why it is one of the most popular languages to learn nowadays.

2. Spanish

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world with 480 million speakers. Spanish is spoken in 22 counties over four continents. It is used when doing business with Spanish or Latin American firms. Learning Spanish is, therefore, a great way to strengthen your competitive edge and improve your career prospects. Being a widely accessible language, it is considered as a good second language to acquire.

Other than being useful in communication, Spanish is also easy to learn. Most English speakers share the same view for Spanish being one of the easiest foreign languages to learn. Though it has different grammar rules and pronunciation compared to English, Spanish is much simpler and more consistent. As 30% of English vocabulary is derived from Latin, you will recognize and understand many Spanish words. It thus takes less time for you to attain a general professional proficiency in Spanish than many other languages.

3. English

English is the official language of 53 countries and is the most commonly spoken language in the world. While Chinese Mandarin and Spanish are the mother tongues of more people overall, English is chosen as a second language by most people. In fact, in every five people, one can speak or at least understand English. It is a universal language. This also makes English a very practical language to communicate yourself to people around the world whenever you travel, study abroad, or work overseas.

4. Hindi

Hindi is the official language of India and spoken in countries like Nepal, Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana. There are around 310 million native Hindi speakers. Many familiar English words can be found in Hindi. Words such as guru, jungle, yoga, bungalow, avatar and more are all familiar English words borrowed from Hindi. Some other Hindi vocabs are also read and pronounced as they are in English, though not written in Hindi.

5. Arabic

Arabic is the fifth most spoken language with 295 million native speakers. It is the official language for more than 20 countries like Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Qatar. As it’s spoken across so many countries, this macro language has up to 30 dialects. Standard Arabic or Modern Standard Arabic is used in formal speech and in writing nowadays. Heavily influenced by European languages like Spanish and Portuguese, you can find words that are pronounced the same!

Fun fact:

There are at least 11 words for love in Arabic. Each word expresses a different stage in the process of falling in love. Isn’t it a romantic reason to start learning?

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