The most spoken languages in the world in 2024

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The most spoken languages in the world

Communicating in the world’s most widely spoken languages can make all the difference in any business’ global expansion strategy. Surely you can imagine which are the most spoken languages in the world, but do you know which is at the top of the list in 2024? Discover key facts and figures about the languages that make up the Top 10.

The languages with the most speakers in the world in 2024

The ability to speak in different languages has always been a prized skill. Communication has served as a crucial bridge for promoting trade, diplomacy, and the dissemination of science and technology among different cultures. Similarly, languages have contributed to strengthening the cultural identity of their community.

Today, in a globally interconnected world, we are even more aware of the large number of languages spoken around the world. However, with more than half of the world’s population speaking just 23 languages, knowledge of some of the most widely spoken languages is essential, not only for personal development, but also for the global expansion of companies.

Successfully impacting all markets

Mandarin Chinese: more than one billion native speakers

Topping the list of most spoken languages is Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese or Putonghua. It is the official language of China and Taiwan and one of the four official languages of Singapore. With 1.12 billion native speakers (native speakers only!), it is by far the world’s most spoken language.

We emphasize “native speakers” because, in addition, China’s economic growth in recent decades has catapulted the number of people who speak or want to learn Mandarin around the world, as it is a very valuable asset to develop in international trade, better understand the Asian market, or simply gain a deeper understanding of an ancient culture and civilization.

Spanish: the most widely-spoken Romance language

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, and its popularity continues to grow. Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 480 million native Spanish speakers worldwide. At least 21 countries have Spanish as an official language (Spain, Latin America and Equatorial Guinea), and in several countries it is the second most spoken language, such as the United States, the Philippines and Morocco. Did you know?

In addition, Spanish is the third most used language on the Internet, which demonstrates its relevance in the digital sphere.

English: the most widely spoken language on all continents

The third language with the most native speakers in the world is English. But if we count both native and non-native speakers, then it would be at the top of the list. It is the most widely used in business and technology and, according to Rest of World, 55.6% of the world’s Internet domains use English.

If you have any doubts about which languages to translate your website into or how to promote your products, keep reading. The global expansion of any business must not only take into account the language spoken in the target market, but also the international scope of these languages. Below, we round off the list to the Top 10.

The 10 most spoken languages in the world in 2024

These figures reflect the number of native speakers, i.e., those who have the language as their first language. Non-native speakers are not counted, nor are those for whom it is a second language. 

1.    Mandarin: 1.12 billion native speakers.
2.    Spanish: 480 million native speakers.
3.    English: 380 million native speakers.
4.    Hindi: 341 million native speakers*.
5.    Arab: 315 million native speakers*.
6.    Bengali: 228 million native speakers.
7.    Portuguese: 221 million native speakers.
8.    Russian: 154 million native speakers.
9.    Japanese: 128 million native speakers.
10.    Punjabi: about 100 million native speakers**.

* Some sources place Arabic ahead of Hindi, with little difference in the number of native speakers.
** Some sources place Vietnamese ahead of Punjabi, with little difference in the number of native speakers.

The most spoken languages and translation

Regardless of the statistics on the most spoken languages in the world, in reality, if you want to enter foreign markets to promote your products or get likes for your posts, what matters is using the language of each specific country. It is one thing to be present in “the cloud” and quite another to land successfully wherever you want to sell.

If you need help with your translation services or advice for your internationalization process, do not hesitate to contact us. At iDISC, a translation agency, we will find the right solution for your company.

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