Arabic is a multi-faceted language that boasts around 340 million native speakers. It is closely related to Aramaic, Hebrew, and Phoenician. Modern Standard Arabic, the standard accepted written form of the language, is developed from the language of the religious text of Islam, the Koran.
Bulgarian is spoken by around 12 million people worldwide, with the majority of speakers living in Bulgaria. While Bulgarian is part of the Slavic language family, it has many unique and interesting characteristics that set it apart from the rest.
The Cantonese language is the lingua franca of the Guangdong Province of China, as well as the primary language of Hong Kong and Macau. Though Mandarin is spoken by more people worldwide, Cantonese is more widespread and is commonly used in Chinese communities across the globe.
Chinese is categorized as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. It is spoken as a primary language by over one billion people, or one fifth of the world’s total population! Chinese is famed for its tens of thousands of characters, with some dictionaries containing more than 50,000 words as entries.
Danish, the native language of Denmark, is spoken by over 5 million people around the world. Danish uses an alphabet that is very similar to that of English, with only 3 additional letters. Because of this, English speakers will feel comfortable reading and writing Danish words and sentences.
With origins dating back to 450 AD, the Dutch language is the primary language of the Netherlands. It is the primary language spoken by around 23 million people in Europe, as well as a secondary language for another 5 million. Dutch is most closely related to the English and German languages.
Spoken originally in England, the English language has become the most widely used language on the planet. It is the official language of many nations, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and others. As the most commonly learned second language in the world, it is used for communication in many global organizations.
Built upon the blending of up to eight different languages, Filipino is a truly diverse and exciting language to learn. Filipino, along with English, is the official language of the Philippines. The greatest concentration of Filipino speakers live near Manila, but it is widely spoken throughout the entire nation.
Part of the Finno-Ugric language group, Finnish is primarily spoken in Finland. There are nearly 5 million native Finnish speakers in the world. Modern Finnish uses plenty of loanwords from other languages, giving many learners a head start when studying it.
French is a Romance language with wide appeal, second only to English as the most commonly studied foreign language in the world. Surprisingly, it is Africa that boasts the largest number of French speakers in the world. Today, French is regarded as an extremely important language for global diplomatic purposes.
With over 98 million native speakers worldwide, German is one of the world’s major languages. The German language has close linguistic ties to English and Dutch. German is spoken in many different countries throughout Europe.
The Greek language is one of the oldest living documented languages, and in its modern form, it is the basis for many western words and root words. Today, Modern Greek is spoken by over 13 million people worldwide including emigrants throughout Europe and the Americas.
Hebrew, along with Arabic, is one of the official languages of Israel. In addition, it is spoken by Jewish immigrants in many other parts of the world. Hebrew is generally considered easy to learn and many people who study Hebrew are amazed at how quickly they are able to pick it up once they begin.
The Hindi language has over 480 million speakers worldwide and is understood or spoken in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even Fiji. Learning Hindi can be a challenge to people who grew up speaking western languages, but just like learning any other language, it can also be a lot of fun!
The Hungarian language, or Magyar as it is known in Hungary, is the official language of Hungary. Part of the Finno-Ugric language group, it is also spoken in parts of Austria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Over 15 million people speak the language, including the approximately 10 million people who speak it throughout Hungary.
Though Indonesia has over 700 different languages and dialects that are spoken throughout the country, Indonesian is the national language that brings the country together. Almost everyone in Indonesia speaks Indonesian and the language is used for all government, educational, and media material.
Italian is a Romance language that is spoken today by 70 to 80 million people as their first or maternal language, and is used by up to 150 million people as a second or cultural language. As the official language of Italy, Italian boasts a rich cultural heritage and modern usage around the world.
Japanese is used extensively around the world, with nearly 130 million people speaking the language. Drawn to the simple pronunciation scheme, many people choose to learn Japanese as their second language, or to learn a few Japanese phrases in order to simplify travel in Japan.
Korean is the official language of North Korea and South Korea, and is also spoken in Japan, China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and by many people in the United States. Worldwide, about 78 million people speak the Korean language.
The Norwegian language is of the North Germanic classification and is mainly spoken in the country of Norway. Two official versions of the written Norwegian language have been established in Norway and they translate literally as “book tongue” (Bokmål) and “new Norwegian” (Nynorsk).
The Persian language is spoken in several Middle Eastern countries, most notably in Iran. Persian is based on the Arabic alphabet and has over 57 million speakers around the world. Though Persian is difficult to master, it is an extremely rewarding language to learn.
Polish is the official language in Poland, where over 36 million people speak the language. However, there are plenty of other places where Polish is spoken. For example, over 2 million people in the U.S., one million people in Ukraine, and over 100,000 people in the former Czechoslovakia use the Polish language.
While the language developed in Europe, today more people speak Portuguese in Brazil than in Portugal. If you speak English, you’ll find that learning Brazilian Portuguese is not overwhelmingly challenging. The Portuguese alphabet uses the same 26 letters that English speakers are familiar with, although several of the letters may have a pronunciation that feels quite foreign.
Today, between 160 and 180 million people speak Russian, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. The majority of these speakers live in Russia, but the Russian language is being taught in an increasing number of schools worldwide.
One of the six official languages of the United Nations, it is estimated that there are currently around 500 million people in the world who can speak Spanish. Coming only behind Mandarin Chinese, Spanish is the largest native language in the world. Mexico has the largest population of native speakers of the language.
Swahili is largely spoken in East Africa and it is considered a national language in Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and at one time in Uganda. Over 120 million people speak Swahili including immigrant populations in other countries in Europe and the U.S.
Swedish is a member of the Nordic family of languages. It is the official language of Sweden, of course, but also the second official language of Finland. By learning how to speak Swedish, it becomes much easier to learn other Nordic languages.
Thai is the official language of Thailand. In Thailand, approximately fifty million people speak Thai as their primary language. If you have any interest in becoming more knowledgeable about Eastern cultures and their languages, learning how to speak Thai is an excellent first step!
The first written records of the Turkish language date back about 1,300 years, and originate from Central Asia. Today, the language is spoken by more than 83 million people around the world. In fact, out of all of the Turkic languages, Turkish is the most commonly spoken worldwide.
Vietnamese is spoken by approximately 81 million people worldwide, with the majority of speakers residing in Vietnam. Over one million fluent Vietnamese speakers live in the U.S., where it is seventh in line of the most-spoken languages in the country.
Afrikaans is one of the official languages of South Africa. If you’re an English speaker, you’re in luck! Afrikaans is widely recognized as one of the easiest languages for an English speaker to learn. As a West Germanic language, Afrikaans shares many characteristics with German, Dutch and English.
With over 24 million native speakers, Romanian is definitely a language worth checking out. Learners are usually surprised by how incredibly widespread the language is, with a notable amount of speakers in the USA, Australia and all throughout Europe. A romance language, Romanian is the official language of Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
Not only is Urdu an official language of India, but it is also the lingua franca of Pakistan. The language boasts over 60 million native speakers around the world and shares many traits with Hindi. And studying Urdu script presents an exciting challenge for any language learner!