Learning to speak new languages has always been important throughout history. It just opens up so many possibilities. However, studying a language also gives you great insight into world cultures, history, politics, and more. It is important to understand that the most studied languages in the world may not be the most spoken language worldwide. For example, Italian is the 20th most spoken language in the world. However, it is the 4th most studied language in the world and even Italians are shocked about this.
Why do People Choose to Study a Particular Language?
There can be various reasons why a person chooses to study a particular language. But in most cases, it usually comes down to economic and cultural factors. It is needless to say the complexity of a language is also a considerable factor. But the most important consideration is the number of global speakers. Since the more widely a language is spoken, the more handy it will be to learn. Moreover, how widely is the language spoken in their lives? For example, if a person was living in the UAE or was planning to. Arabic will increase his/her prospects greatly. Or consider a person who enjoys anime and the Japanese gaming genre, learning Japanese will be more useful for them. The point is that the reason can be anything from economic, academic, cultural, political, or just as a hobby.
10 Most Studied Languages
The size of the learning community, access to resources, access to native speakers, and related factors all contribute to how commonly a language is studied. Let’s get right to it then:
English - 1.5 Billion Learners
Well, this is probably not a surprise for anyone considering the popularity of the language. English
is spoken by 520 million native speakers and 1.4 billion in total. News, movies, songs, and educational materials are all popular in English across many nations. English is the official language of 50+ countries and is also commonly used in countries as a medium of business and education. Moreover, English is regarded as the global language of communication. The World Bank recognizes English as its official language and is also a part of the United Nations
French - 82 Million Learners
There are 220 million native French
speakers and it is the official language of over 29 different countries. Overall it ranks as the 6th most globally spoken language. According to expectations, over 750 million will be speaking French by 2050. Jobs for French speakers are in high demand in many countries including the UK, Canada, and UAE. French is also one of the languages
that are regularly taught as an option in schools and universities. The ease of access makes it one of the most studied languages in the world.
Mandarin (Chinese) - 30 Million Learners
More than 16% of the global population speaks Mandarin
as an additional or native language. That is a whopping 1.4 billion people and the number is steadily growing. China has the largest population density on the planet with 1.3 billion people. They say Chinese can be a difficult language to learn. But factually it has no gender rules, no verb tense, or complex grammar rules. But yes your accent needs to be precise, and this can be problematic for some. Since China is a global superpower with political, social, and economic influence throughout the world. They are also the largest mass producers of global goods, so no doubt learning Mandarin has many benefits economically and socially. Chinese is also important for learning history, culture, and art.
Spanish - 14.5 Million Learners
There are over 400+ million Spanish
speakers worldwide and it is also the national language of 21 countries. Moreover, the influence of the language surpasses these 21 borders into countries like the USA, the UK, and more. So much so that the USA has more number of Spanish speakers than Spain itself. It might also be the country with the most Spanish speakers by 2050. Spanish is popular because many neighboring countries have Spanish speakers, the culture is active and is easily accessible to learn. Many countries offer Spanish as a choice subject and it is relatively inexpensive and easy to learn. Spanish ranks as the third most common language on the internet after English and Chinese.
German - 14.5 Million Learners
The official language of Germany and 5 other countries has 130+ million speakers. Many large-scale businesses like Adidas, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and more are German-born and bred. Those interested in careers in motorsports, science, research, and related fields learn the language to enhance their career prospects. Moreover, Germany offers free education with a language prerequisite, giving people another reason to learn the language. Being an economic and education hub, German
speakers are in high demand.
Italian - 8 Million Learners
There are nearly 70 million Italian
speakers on the globe. It is the official language of Italy, a country with immense business prospects, academic institutions, and a beautiful culture. People learn Italian for education, immigration, tourism, business, and often for the love of the language. Many fashion and vine businesses in the US require Italian speakers. Art students and enthusiasts may also learn the language to enhance their understanding.
Japanese - 3.8 Million Learners
123 million people across the globe speak Japanese
as an additional or native language. People learn the language for either business, education, job prospects, interest in Japanese culture, or tourism. As a technology hub, Japan is vital for gaming, virtual arts, and the cinematic community. Japan's unique digital culture attracts people from around the world, who learn the language for their hobbies. Even though the Japanese population is shrinking, the language learners are growing.
Arabic - 4 Million Learners
Nearly 400 million people in the world speak Arabic
and it is the official language of 25 countries. Most individuals learn Arabic for business, career, religion, tourism, and more. Since the UAE is a low-tax-to-tax-free zone, all companies there require Arabic speakers. Arabic is the language of Islam and with over 2 billion Muslims worldwide the language is constantly being learned on some scale. Countries in Africa and the Middle East are resource-rich countries and the importance of Arabic for all these reasons is immense. But it is a fairly difficult language to learn.
Russian - 2 Million Learners
Russian is the official language of Russia and 3 other nations. Spoken by nearly 400 million people across the globe. Russian
is an important language for business because of geopolitics and the country's global influence. Moreover, those who regularly travel to or communicate with Russians know that they are not the best English speakers. Hence, for closer ties with the country, the language is vital to learn.
Portuguese - 1.8 Million Learners
Spoken by 250 million people across the globe. Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries. The economic influence of these nations has sped up the spread of the language. Hence, the most common reasons for studying the language come down to economics and tourism. There are also many educational and career-wise opportunities available for multilingual Portuguese
These numbers can change due to changes in global demands, cultural factors, global events, and more reasons. But for now and the near future these numbers will help you out. If you are looking to study a language it is important to remember that it can be a lengthy process. So you should enjoy the journey while having a good reason to do so. Recent studies have shown that learning a language also helps cognitive abilities and memory learning.