World Facts

Most Widely Spoken Languages In The World

Economic factors and regional considerations alike have caused languages such as English, Mandarin, French, and Hindi to be spoken widely worldwide

For many, when asked what language is most widely spoken worldwide, the answer most readily coming to mind will likely be English. While that may be a little assuming, there are several reasons why most people would instantly jump to such a conclusion. Even among many of the people all over the world who do not speak English fluently as their native tongue, English is commonly a familiar medium of communication used for people with different first languages to interact with one another. For this reason, this language is one commonly used in business or other formal transactions, serving as a somewhat “universal language”, though Mandarin Chinese is being increasingly used as such. The prevalence of English likely stems from past times, when the far reaching extent of the British Empire familiarized more of the world’s people and places with the English language than with any other.

The Global Language Environment

In spite of the popularity of the English and Chinese languages, they are not the only languages widely spoken by significant proportions of the global populace. Other languages, such as French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Japanese, and Hindi, are extensively-spoken tongues as well, especially in places where dissimilar regional languages may make communication difficult, even between those living in close geographic proximity to one another.

Despite such variety, within this article we will focus on the English language and, more specifically, how the role it plays in many foreign countries as a business language. When we say ‘business language’, we refer to mediums of communication used to promote organizational objectives and interactions within and between different businesses. As such, this English has become a staple part of the curriculum in educational systems on every inhabited continent.

Teaching English as a Second Language

One prime example is seen among the people of South Korea. Countless numbers of South Koreans strive to learn English for use as a second language. This is because of the highly competitive nature of industries in South Korea, wherein they need to learn how to communicate formally in English in order to facilitate international trade. Furthermore, learning the language allows many South Koreans to go abroad and study abroad in English-speaking educational institutions. A similar case is seen in the Philippines. As early as grade school, Filipinos are trained to write and speak the English language, for it is believed that being proficient in English communication skills can give an edge to those desiring to move up in the global business environment.

Parlez-vous français?

Apart from English, French is another widely-spoken language around the world. It receives equal attention alongside the English language in many places, and French is taught alongside English as a second language in virtually every educational system in the world. The ability to speak French is a big advantage in the global market, and combined proficiencies in both English and French opens more international job opportunities. Furthermore, French is said to be the language of culture, as it is widely considered the international language of cooking, fashion, fine arts, arts and literature. Having the ability to speak this language opens vast access to several different aspects of culture and life.

In summary, there are a number of languages considered to be widely spoken. However, based on demographic statistics and cross-sectional research, knowledge in English, Mandarin, and French makes a person truly stand out as a well-spoken citizen of the world. These languages have come to the forte due to the former expanses of the French and British colonial empires, and China’s rising star in the global marketplace.

Most Widely Spoken Languages In The World

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RankLanguageTotal speakers (millions)Native speakers (millions)
1English1,500375
2Mandarin1,100982
3Hindi650460
4Spanish420330
5French37079
6Arabic300206
7Russian275165
8Portuguese235216
9Bengali233215
10German185105
11Japanese128127
12Korean7878

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