What Is the Most Spoken Language in the World

what is the most spoken language in the world

What is the most spoken language in the world? Many people who would like to get the biggest return on the time invested would like to know the answer to this question. To give you a comprehensive answer, we’ve put together a list of most spoken languages in the world, with the exact number of native and non-native speakers for each of them.

7 Most Spoken Languages in the World

Determining the most spoken language in the world is not nearly as simple as it may seem. To start with, it’s necessary to define what spoken means. Are we interested only in native speakers, or do we want to count non-native speakers of various proficiency levels as well? There’s also the question of dialects, some of which are less similar than certain languages.

list of the most spoken languages in the world

To make things easier for you, we’ve ranked the top 7 most spoken languages according to the total number of speakers (native plus non-native). This ensures that the first language on our list is actually the most popular one. 

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Encore!!! offers an extensive content library (available in English, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, and Spanish) with comprehensive lesson plans that include vocabulary, greetings and useful phrases, verb conjugations, sentences with related vocabulary, and more. 

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app to learn most spoken languages in the world

1. English (1.3 billion)

Number of native speakers: 370 millionNumber of non-native speakers: 898 million 
Language family: Indo-EuropeanWriting system: Latin 

If you’re reading this article, it means that you already have at least some command of the most spoken language in the world. Even though English doesn’t have nearly as many native speakers as the second most spoken language in the world, the number of non-native speakers more than makes up for it. 

As you probably already know, English is the language of science and technology, which is why you encounter it everywhere these days. Some experts even argue that English has become the world’s lingua franca.

2. Mandarin Chinese (1.1 billion)

Number of native speakers: 922 millionNumber of non-native speakers: 199 million
Language family: Sino-TibetanWriting system: Chinese characters

Many people assume that Chinese is a single language, but it’s actually a term used to describe hundreds of local language varieties spoken in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and other regions. Mandarin Chinese is by far the most spoken language in these regions, and it’s also the official language of the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan.

For English speakers, learning Mandarin Chinese can be a huge challenge because of its exotic writing system and tonal nature. To make things even worse, many local varieties of Mandarin Chinese are not mutually intelligible, especially those spoken by people in rural parts of China. 

3. Hindi (637 million)

Native speakers: 342 millionNon-native speakers: 295 million
Language family: Indo-EuropeanWriting system: Devanagari

Considered to be the lingua franca of the Hindi belt, Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language and a direct descendant of an early form of Vedic Sanskrit. This intriguing language is written in the Devanagari script, which was developed in ancient India from the 1st to the 4th century CE. 

Learning Hindi can be a formidable challenge not just because of its writing system but also because the people who speak it often prefer to talk with foreigners in English, which is also an official language in India. 

4. Spanish (537 million)

Number of native speakers: 463 million Number of non-native speakers: 74 million
Language family: Indo-EuropeanWriting system: Latin

Spanish is the mother tongue of Latin America, and it’s also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. For people whose mother tongue is English, Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn because of its familiar writing system, pronunciation, and, to some extent, grammar. 

There’s a ton of learning material available in Spanish, not to mention a wealth of movies, music, and books. You can easily find people who speak Spanish fluently online and connect with them using Skype.  

5. French (276 million)

Number of native speakers: 77 million Number of non-native speakers: 199 million
Language family: Indo-EuropeanWriting system: Latin

Known for its pleasant, poetic sound, French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family that’s officially spoken in 29 countries across multiple continents. Most countries where French is officially spoken are members of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), whose mission is to promote cooperation, human rights, education, culture, and democracy in French-speaking countries.

Because French is an official language of many international institutions, its knowledge is considered to be a valuable asset for politicians and international businessmen and businesswomen. 

6. Modern Standard Arabic (274 million)

Native speakers: —Non-native speakers: 274 million
Language family: Afro-AsiaticWriting system: Arabic alphabet

Modern Standard Arabic isn’t really spoken as a mother tongue, which is why we can’t state the number of native speakers. Instead, it’s a standardized, literary version of Arabic used in books, newspapers, and academic settings. 

The problem is that there are approximately thirty other varieties of Arabic besides Modern Standard Arabic, and many of them are not mutually intelligible. As if that wasn’t enough, learning Modern Standard Arabic is one of the greatest challenges any English speaker can ever undertake. 

7. Bengali (266 million)

Native speakers: 229 millionNon-native speakers: 37 million
Language family: Indo-EuropeanWriting system: Bengali alphabet

You might not expect Bengali to be on this list, but this Indo-Aryan language is spoken in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. When you visit the countries where Bengali is spoken, you’ll be greeted by a large continuum of regional dialects. 

Bengali uses the Bengali script, which originated in the Indian subcontinent. Linguists classify it as abugida, which is a writing system consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit. 


If someone asks you, “What is the most spoken language in the world?”,  now you know that the answer is English, at least when counting both native and non-native speakers. Learning one of the most spoken languages in the world is an excellent investment of your time, and you can count on Encore!!! app to help you achieve fluency in no time.

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