The 10 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World

If you’re learning a language,
try one-on-one lessons with Italki. Get the interaction and human connection
that you can’t get by using apps or software Buy your first lesson and get your second lesson free.
Check out the link in the description below. Hello everyone. Welcome to the langfocus channel
and my name is Paul. Today I’m going to be remaking a video that I made
back in the early days of this channel Because, well, a lot of the data in that video is… wrong! The topic is the 10 most widely spoken languages in the world We can measure the number of speakers
of a language has been looking either at native speakers or by looking at the total number
of speakers, including second language speakers. First we’ll look at the number of native speakers for
each language and later on we’ll include second
language speakers and see how the numbers change. Based on the number of native speakers, the most
widely spoken language in the world is Mandarin It has somewhere between 900 million
and 955 million native speakers That makes it the most widely spoken native
language in the world by far Mandarin is the most widely spoken of the Chinese languages
and it’s the official language of China and of Taiwan. The number of native speakers does not include
native speakers of other Chinese languages.
Only of Mandarin. Number 2 is Spanish with somewhere between
405 million and 470 million native speakers,
depending on which source you consult Number 2 used to be English but the number of native
Spanish-speakers has been growing much more quickly
than the number of native English-speakers in recent years. And that brings us to number 3 which is English,
with around 360 million native speakers. And an interesting side note: On my previous version
of this video, I got a lot of comments saying there’s
no way that the number is that low . because the population of the United States
alone is about 320 million. Well, keep in mind that a lot of people in the United States,
a very large percentage of the population are actually
immigrants who do not speak English as their 1st language. And that’s also true of other countries
where English is the main language. Number 4 is Hindustani meaning Hindi and Urdu,
with around 355 million native speakers Hindi and Urdu are spoken in the Indian subcontinent
in India and Pakistan and they are very similar in their spoken forms and they can be considered one language,
even though their literary forms are quite different. For more information on Hindustani,
check out my video on that subject right here. Number 5 is Arabic with around 293 million native speakers. Now I should note that Arabic has many
different spoken varieties, many different dialects and some of them are harder to understand
than other some of them are kind of unintelligible For example, Moroccan Arabic. Lots of people from
other Arabic countries say it’s hard to understand them. But Arabic does have a standard language. Standard Arabic unites all of the different dialects and people
can use it to communicate with speakers of the other dialects So even though some of those dialects are fairly different,
they can be considered one language. And if we include all varieties of Arabic,
there are 293 million native speakers. Number 6 is Portuguese with somewhere between
215 million and 225 million native speakers. A lot of people are surprised to hear that
Portuguese is on this list. But remember
Portuguese is not only the language of Portugal. It’s also spoken in Brazil,
which has a population of 200 million Number 7 is Bengali with around 206 million native speakers,
mostly living in Bangladesh and in some of
the eastern provinces of India. Number 8 is Russian with around 155 million native speakers. Number 9 is Japanese with around 126 million native speakers. Number 10 is Punjabi with around 102 million native speakers. It is spoken mainly in western India and in Pakistan. In fact, it’s the most widely spoken native language in Pakistan,
even though it’s not the official language there. Those were the top ten languages based
on the number of native speakers. But the situation is somewhat different
if we include second language speakers. That’s because some languages are much more widely spoken
as a lingua franca than they are as a native language. So let’s see what the list looks like
if we include non-native speakers. Number one is English. English has a lot fewer native speakers
than Mandarin Chinese does, but if we include all the people around the world who
learn English as a second language or as a foreign language, that brings the numbers up to around
1.4 to 1.5 billion speakers. Some people estimate the number to be as high as 2 billion. But, of course, there is some disagreement about
what level of proficiency is necessary in order
to be included as a speaker of English. English is the de facto global lingua franca,
the international language. Sorry, Esperanto lovers. Number 2 is Mandarin with somewhere between
1.1 billion and 1.15 billion speakers. if we include the 190 million people
who have learned it as a second language. Those people are mostly in China and
mostly speakers of other Chinese languages. Number 3 is Spanish with somewhere
between 500 million and 570 million speakers. There are about 90 million people who speak Spanish
as a second language including linguistic minorities
in a lot of Spanish-speaking countries. And there are also a lot of people who learn
Spanish as a foreign language. Number 4 is Hindustani with around 540 million speakers. That means that there are about 200 million
second language speakers of Hindustani. Hindi and Urdu function as a lingua francas
in much of northern India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, for example, Urdu is spoken as a second
language by around 94 million people and it’s only
the native language of around 9% of the population. Number 5 is Arabic with around 422 million speakers. That means that there are around 130 million
second language speakers of Arabic. A lot of these people are non Arabs living in countries
where Arabic as an official language. For example many speakers of the Berber languages
in North Africa learn Arabic as a second Language Varieties of Arabic are also used as lingua francas,
throughout different parts of Africa. Number 6 is Russian with around 260 million speakers.
Russian jumped from #8 on the first list to #6 on this list. That’s because Russian is widely spoken as a lingua
franca throughout much of the former Soviet Union. For more information on Russian,
check out my video on that subject right here. Number 7 is Portuguese with between
250 million and 260 million speakers. There are about 35 million
second language speakers of Portuguese, mainly in African countries like Angola
and Mozambique, countries where Portuguese
is the former colonial language. Today there are some native speakers living in those
countries but Portuguese is also used as a lingua franca
between the diverse linguistic communities. Number 8 is a language that didn’t even appear
on our original top 10 list. And that is the Malay language,
including indonesian which is a variety of Malay. It is spoken by around 77 million people,
as a native language. And there are an additional 173 million second language speakers
for a total of 250 million speakers of Malay and Indonesian. One of the reasons that it has spoken so much
more widely as a second language is because it is
widely learned as a second language in Indonesia. There, it is the official language but it’s mainly used
as a lingua franca because there are hundreds
of languages spoken in Indonesia Number 9 is Bengali with around 226 million speakers. And number 10 is French, another language
that didn’t appear on our original top 10 list. While French has around 80 million native speakers,
there are around 140 million second language speakers. For a total of about 220 million. The majority of those speakers are in Africa,
where French is spoken in around 31 different countries Some researchers project that the francophone population
will be as high as 500 million in the year 2025. And 700 million in the year 2050. So which list do you think is more meaningful? I tend to think that the second list is more meaningful,
because, in my opinion, the importance of a language depends on how many
people use it for communication and not on how many
people speak it perfectly and with the perfect native accent. And I think that another thing that makes a language
important is how many countries it is spoken in
and over how wide of a geographic area it is spoken. I think we have to balance these two different factors
in order to determine how important to language is. So, even though Mandarin has the largest number
of native speakers and even though it has
the second largest number of total speakers, it might not be the most important or
second most important language in the world. The most important language in the world is, right now,
clearly English, because it is widely spoken by
so many people around the world. I would say that number 2 is Spanish because
it’s spoken by a large population and it’s spoken
in dozens of countries around the world. And because the Spanish-speaking population
is growing quickly. I would say that French might be another one in the top 5
because of its fairly large total number of speakers because it’s widely spoken in Europe and Africa and because
of the projected growth in the francophone population. Another might be Arabic because it’s spoken throughout
many countries in the Middle East and North Africa. And, by a growing population in Europe
and around the world. And another one is probably Chinese even though
it’s not an official language in many places, China is an important country with a huge population
and a large economy and Chinese might become
more important in the future. So the question of the day is: “What do you think?”
What are the most important languages in the world? Leave your opinions and your reasons
in the comments down below. Be sure to follow Langfocus
on Twitter, on Instagram and on Facebook. And again I’d like to say thanks to all of my patreon
supporters for your continuous support. Thank you for watching and have a nice day.

100 Replies to “The 10 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World

  1. it sounds dominant to me, when he says that english is the most important language, and says it in english

  2. You forgot Turkish, even if you don't count all variants you have intelligible between Turkish and Turkish around Balkans, Caucasus, Iran and Middle-east. That makes first language around 120 million and if you can't all variants you can add 100 million more.

  3. I guess latin languages will take over anglosaxon english very soon. Latin will rise again. North will lose pretty soon😂

  4. Un pequeño error he visto en el mapa de países lusohablantes de Africa: por error se han incluido Guinea Ecuatorial y la Isla de Bioko (antigua Fernando Poo), que fueron territorios ultramarinos españoles, y no portugueses, y por ende se habla español, y no portugués. Por lo demás, magnifico video. Enhorabuena.

  5. indonesian dont same language with malaysian, dont make them like 1 language because indonesian have "sumpah pemuda". it's talk about nationality and language, this is sensitive issue in my country.

  6. সব লাইক করো দেখা হোক এখানে কতগুলো বাঙালি আছে

  7. As China increases trade and infrastructure projects in Africa, and as more African students go to China to study technology, Chinese will increase as a lingua franca in Africa and even Latin America.

  8. How about Slobbovian? I have noticed that you never mention Slobbovian in any of your videos. You should be ashamed of yourself!

  9. 1:41 the actual number number is 578 million, as per 2011 ,and it would be much more now

    Source :

    Edit : 578 only from india, combine it with pakistan and it would easily reach #2. Get your sources right man.

  10. Some languages are important as scientific languages. Japanese, Korean and Chinese as well as German and other European languages could be of considerable importance… at least apart from English.

  11. 1-chinese 2-english 3-spanish 4-indian 5-turkish 6-arabic 7-portugese 8-bengal 9-russian 10-japan ; your list is wrong , mine is updated data of august 4 2019

  12. Am I one person who is suppose that Canada better place for living that USA? (That's not even for this video but I'm too lazy for searching for that video 😄)

  13. I think portuguese is a liltle bit more, as Brasil has almost 200 millions+ Angola (30 millions)+Moçambique (28 millions)+ Portugal (10 millions)+ 1 million for Cabo Verde+ Guiné Bissau+ S. Tomé e Príncipe…

  14. I know a lot of educated "Arabophones" from Lebanon and Morocco and they told me that when a Lebanese meet a Moroccan or vice versa, it is too hard for them to speak the standard Arabic, after a few minutes they prefer to switch to English or French to be able to communicate well and understand well, and they are educated people! Imagine the people living in villages with no education! So I think that high number of Arabic native speakers is bullshit. Sorry!

  15. I think that you are missing one important language here. In the 1950s and 60s ships from Norway, more specifically Stavanger, were sailing the 7 seas. Children growing up in Stavanger at that time, knew that it was a waste of time to learn English because the Stavanger version was understood and spoken in every harbour on this planet, roughly 10 billion people (give or take approx. 10 billion) 😂
    Other than that… good channel.👍

  16. Swahili is coming in the list soon, unfortunately there is exact numbers of speakers, in DRC alone there are millions of speakers, I think the number of speakers could easily get to 200-250 million.

  17. I think, Turkish also must be,..Just Oghuz dialect is about 120 000 000 (Türkiye 80b, Azerbaijan 10b, İran 35b, Türkmenistan 7b, Irak 2,5b, Moldova+ Bulgaria+ Ukrain 140K,..)

  18. Wrong information cause in 2010 Bangladesh has 165 millions and West Bengal has 91millions and other bengalis in indian states are 26 million so total no of Bengali is more than 280 million now .

  19. There alot more native speakers of french and spanish, plus native langauges in the united states then more people know.

  20. Portuguese, English, Japanese and Spanish. Those are the ones I'm fluent, so I guess my next one should be one of the others in the list…

  21. You should have actually measured it both ways and given the top 10 in terms of native speakers and then in terms of total number of speakers…those numbers are interesting and informative. Your numbers are just opinions using differing criteria with the obvious nod to native speakers…
    Chinese isn't even the Lingua Franca of Asia! It's spoken in China and not very much outside of China and Taiwan.
    You will have a VERY HARD TIME traveling the world only speaking Chinese. English speakers will have a much easier time. This does allow for some advantages to English speakers.
    Hindustani REALLY should have been number two with the weight you apparently gave to native speakers…
    English is the Lingua Franca of the world with more people using it than any other language and it's spread out across the world. says it is by far the most studied language.

  22. You still use Wikipedia Brother : More than 300 million people use Arabic as their first language
    And about four hundred million people speak Arabic by counting Berbers, Copts, Syrians, Africans, Chaldeans, and and they use Arabic as a second language.

  23. Glad to know that i could speak 4 of those top 10 languages
    1) Bengali
    2) England
    3) Hindi
    4) Punjabi
    Btw i belong to India and a proud Hindu

  24. That's a complete bullshit in India pretty much everyone speaks Hindi atleast Hindi language has got 1 billion of native speakers from India alone….

  25. If you speak : French, English, Spanish, Russian and Lingala like me then you can go anywhere you want and find someone who speaks at least one of these languages… 😃 Я говорю на пяти языках…

  26. One of the questions that is raised by travellers I have met is – what is the minimum set of languages you need to learn to travel the world. They generally agree English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and maybe German or Russian for Eastern Europe. I guess it probably could include Arabic.

  27. I think there are some quiet languages that are more important. There are some languages that are small in terms of number of speakers, but they are laying on the perifery of multiple languages, so that learning one can give you some (at least vague) understanding of several heavy boys at once. I'm not a polyglot yet, so I cannot be sure but seems like knowing one of the three languages: English, French, German + Dutch can give you the basics of two others at once. Also a lot of Romanic languages are derived from Latin. And I also heard from foreigners, that Ukrainian is a relatively easy slavic language, wich helps to understand others. I cannot check this for sure, because I am from Ukraine, but sometimes it is a lot easier for me to understand other slavs, then vice versa, so it might be an indirect proof. Japanese has several scripts, so it might help with Chinese.
    Also, some languages are closer too the roots and they can help to study other languages from a specific group. I believe, it might be Lithuanian for indoeuropean l. and Hebrew for Semitic…
    So I believe thet knowing some limited ammount of key-languages can let you understand almost everybody, even though they will not understand you this clear. So in this perspective they are important.

  28. I live in Northern Norway, where various variants of "Sami" is being spoken. There are efforts to promote learning of the biggest variant, called Northern Sami. There are also efforts to keep the other variants alive, but the smallest one, called Pite sami, only has about 25 speakers (L1 + L2) left. In total there are 4 types of Sami language used in Norway (Northern, Souther, Lule and Pite)

  29. I speak English and Turkish(my native language) well. I live in Russia. I can talk about anything in Russian but sometimes I make grammar mistakes. I need more time to be fluent. And now, I learn Spanish, it is way easier than Russian, if you re already able to speak English. I guess I need 2 more years to be good at it. After that I want to learn Chinese(mandarin) but their system is way different. Spending years to learn it … I am a bit scared. So maybe I can try Portuguese or French. They are all romance languages. I don't think it will be tough as Chinese after all

  30. I think the most important language in the world is Arabic…Then English…Then Spanish and maybe Chinese… That 's my opinion👌

  31. Hey YouTube's – I have a question for all of you that don't speak English as a native language. What should native English speakers do to convince you to speak with them in your language? I'm learning Spanish, and sometimes when I speak it to a native speaker, they try to switch to English. The only way to gain a language is to use it, so what should we native English speakers do?

  32. One thing that make brazilians get angry is "Oh, you're brazilian, so you speak spannish"
    AND NO, SPANISH IS NOT THE 2ND LANGUAGE SPOKEN HERE, The second language spoken here is german in the south and the third is italian :v
    SO FUCK OFF, OK? just who think that we speak spanish :v –.–

  33. I am kazakh, as you may know Kazakhstan was part of russian empire and soviet union, so in fact we have two official languages kazakh and russian. So we have two parts of people, who speaks kazakh fluently and who speaks mostly russian and less kazakh or even more some people do not know their own language. I can speak kazakh pretty well, but until university i haven't even known a word, and now anyway i mostly speak russian. Kazakh has large vocabulary and very cool grammar it is not simple but you can learn it easily, but in the same time it's very poor content in kazakh, there is no 100 best books or 100 best films in kazakh, our TV shows are totally shame and full of degradation, we dont have good youtubers who speaks kazakh, because the auditory is very low, we have only stupid prankers speaking kazakh, for example the guy named as JURTTYN BALASY he is 100% fluent in kazakh but he mostly speaks russian cause of audience coverage. And seems that speaking kazakh in your own country it's useless. As a Kazakh it very sad situation for me, our govermnet does not expend influence of our own language.

    If you know kazakh you can understand other turkic languages, and it provides and easier way to learn them, as example is turkish, we can not understand each other but learning process is very simple, cause of the same grammar, and vacabulary. It's like English and Danish, you have some similarities in vocabulary and parts of grammar.
    Also i am fond of History English language , old English is phantastic tongue!

  34. Look:
    Chinese isn't the most widely spoken language in any sense, because it is only spoken in China.
    Yes, it has the most native speakers, but it is not widely spoken.

  35. I totalt agree with Paul. The number of people who uses a language as a lingua franca and the geographic spread are two important factors. That also means, that for instance the English language, which is so wide spoken, is developing independent from the control of the native speakers. A Dane and a Hungarian can have a conversation in English and understand each other fine, where their speaking for a native English speaker will sound rubbish or some expressions even un-understandable. The non native speakers don’t hear the errors and therefore these can spread and develop outside the world of the native speakers.

  36. I support your opinions..I totaly agree with you. The most important languages so far are English Spanish French Arabic mandarin chinese.

  37. The most important language in the world is English, that is my opinion. I am from Sweden, so my English isn't perfect as a native English speaker. However, I do know a lot of English and I also think the most countries have mandatory English in school. At least here in Europe. The younger generation do know English pretty good compared to the older people, this includes every country without English as their first language.
    That is my opinion, but that doesn't mean that I quit there. I also want to learn me some french and Spanish because I was studying Spanish in school, when I was in 6th to 9th grade.

  38. I think portuguese is one of the 5 most important languages, together with spanish,chinese,english and arabic, much more then french. Because the number speaks for itself and just like you said, it's spread out widely geographicly, you have in every continent portuguese speakers; in the americas, europe,africa,asia and oceania. And the number is growing so fast, especialy in africa and south america. And in some years brazil will turn into a global power house and portuguese will become even more important then it allready is now. You'll see.

  39. Well I am an Indonesian native speaker and I can speak Malay, English, Japanese, Latina, and German. German is the most important language for me personally cause I want to take my college there😅

  40. Spanish, portuguese and italian speakers knowing they can travel to a bunch of countries in the world without knowing a second language bc they understand each other… 🤔

  41. For me personally, the most important language is Old Church Slavonic. Because I am Russian and it is the language of my ancestors. Reading in it is just incredible! There are no words to describe how great it is! And the second most important language for me is English. But it's not because it is an international language, but because it is very beautiful and melodic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *