7 Fastest-Growing Languages in the World (After English)

7 Fastest-Growing Languages in the World (After English)

Thinking of learning a second language in order to advance your career or expand your business? Well,  you have an important decision ahead of you right now, namely, which of the many global languages will be the most useful.

When thinking about learning a second language, be it for business or pleasure, one of the most important questions is to ask is which one will be most useful to you. The answer to that usually comes down to one of two things: where in the world are you aiming to go and what is the common language used there.

With the rise of globalization, however, sometimes the “importance” of a language isn’t necessarily confined to where it is spoken. Rather, what makes a language important to learn is how fast it is growing. 

1. French

How many people speak French? 277 million people

How many people are native/first language speakers? 77.3 million

How many people learned French as an additional language? 538 million.  

Where is French an official language? 

Africa: DR Congo, Morocco, Magagascar, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Fasso, Mali, Senegal, Chad, Tunisia, Guinea, Rwanda, Burundi, Benin, Togo, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equitorial Guinea, Djibouti, Comoros, Seychelles

Caribbean: Haiti

Europe: France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Aosta Valley

Oceania: Vanuatu, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis, and Futuna 

North America: Canada, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon

According to Forbes, French is one of the fastest-growing languages in the world. They predict that by 2050, French will be spoken by 750 million people.  Currently, the Ethnologue ranks French as the 5th most commonly spoken language in the world.

French is an official language for many important international institutions, including the European Union and the United Nations.  It is the second most widely spoken mother tongue in the EU and the second most taught foreign language.

It is also an official; language in 29 countries in multiple continents. Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa is actually the continent where the majority of the world’s French speakers live. There are about 141 million French speakers on the continent, spread across 34 countries and territories.

If you are thinking of living, working, or studying in Canada, you might want to learn some common French phrases. After English, French is the second most common language in Canada with 9.5 million people speaking it as a first language and 2.07 million speaking it as a second language. 

Make sure you find an online tutor who is a native speaker of Canadian French, however, as there are some differences between Canadian French and European French. 

Another reason why French is considered one of the fastest-growing languages is because of its importance in various fields and disciplines. It is widely used in the fields of diplomacy, jurisprudence, journalism, and education.

2. Spanish

How many people speak Spanish? 538 million

How many people are native/first language speakers? 463 million

How many people learn Spanish as a second language? 74.9 million

 Where is Spanish an official language?

Americas: Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Uruguay, 

Africa: Equatorial Guinea

Europe: Spain

Caribbean Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico

Spanish used to be the second most common language in the world and a lingua franca. While it is still a commonly spoken language, it’s been overtaken by the faster-growing languages of Mandarin and Chinese.

Spanish is now the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world. It has the second most number of first language speakers in the world, after Mandarin Chinese but before English.  According to the Instituo Cervantes, as of 2019, Spanish is studied by almost 22 million people in 110 different countries. 

Spanish originated in Spain but has since spread all over the world. Mexico actually has the most number of Spanish speakers in the world, followed by the United States (though it is not an official language there), then Colombia, and then Spain itself.

Spanish is the most widely-spoken language of the Americas, even in countries where Spanish is not the official language, as the US and Brazil, there are still plenty of Spanish speakers and the number is expected to grow in the future. 

Spanish is an official language of the United Nations and several other important international organizations, as well as the European Union. There are also Spanish speakers in former Spanish colonies in Africa (like Nigeria) and Asia (like the Philippines).

If your work or field of study is in the humanities or social sciences, Spanish is the growing language to learn as many works in those fields appear in this language. 

3. Mandarin Chinese

How many people speak Mandarin Chinese? 1.120 billion

How many people are native/first language speakers? 921 million

How many people learned Mandarin Chinese as a second language: 198.7 million

Mandarin Chinese is the second most common language in the world after English. It is, however, the language with the most number of first language speakers in the world.

While there are about seven or ten major Chinese dialect groups, Mandarin is the largest and most common. About 70 percent of all people who speak a Chinese dialect speak Mandarin. Because Mandarin is so common in China, it’s been a lingua franca in the country since about the 14th century and it’s been the national language since the early 20th century.

Mandarin is one of the most frequently used Chinese dialects of the Chinese diaspora and is used in education, business, and politics. 

With the continued growth of the Chinese economy and the spread of Chinese companies around the world, Mandarin Chinese is considered an advantageous language to learn and this is the reason why it is one of the fastest-growing languages in the world. 

4. Arabic 

How many people speak Arabic? 274 million

Where is Arabic an official language? Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen 

While Arabic might not necessarily be “in demand”, it should be. It is an important language spoken by people all over the world. 

Because of the increasing importance of the Middle East region in the world and the increasing number of business opportunities in the area, Arabic is a fast-growing language that is important to learn and can open doors for you in many corners of the globe.

Arabic is the 6th most common language in the world and an official language in over 26 countries. Throughout the Arab world, it is the language that is used in print and mass media, as well as the academia, law, and legislation.  

Of course, it is an official language of the Arab League but it also has that status with the United Nations.

Learning Arabic now can help you build up your business relationships with people in the wealthier Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. It will also help you get along and communicate in areas of rising importance such as Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. It will also help you better understand the Arab culture and religion, which is important in building up beneficial relationship with native speakers. 

5. Hindu

How many people speak Hindu? 637 million

How many people are native/first language speakers? 342 million

How many people learn Hindu as a second language? 295.3 million

There are many different languages spoken in the Indian subcontinent, and of them all, Hindi is the most common. It’s the third most commonly spoken language in the world and this is partially due to both its status as an official language in India and also the language spoken by most of the Indian diaspora.

Hindi is also widely spoken in South Asia and learning to speak and even read Hindi is key to gaining some understanding of Indian culture as it’s the language of their literary traditions, both classical and modern. It is also the dominant language of Indian modern media, including Bollywood films.

If you want to do business in India or just live there for a while, learning Hindi is a great way to ensure that you will be able to communicate easily and form important relationships. Hindi is the fastest growing language in India, has added almost 100 million speakers in the 2001-2011 period.

6. Urdu

How many people speak Urdu?  171 million

How many people are native/first language speakers? 69 million

How many people learn Urdu as a second language: 101.6 million

Aside from being widely spoken in India, where it is a national language, Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. This makes it an important language in South Asia, especially in the spheres of business and politics. 

Urdu and Hindi are actually very similar, sharing a common vocabulary and even grammar rules. The major difference comes in how they are written.  Hindi is written in the Devanagari script, while Urdu is written in the Persian script. 

7. Portuguese

How many people speak Portuguese? 252 million

How many people are native/first language speakers? 228 million

How many people learn Portuguese as a second language? 24.2 million

Where is Portuguese an official language?

Portuguese is the sixth most commonly spoken language in the world and is considered an important language to learn for business

While Portuguese originally came from Portugal and is still a relatively important language in the EU (it is the third-most spoken European language in the world), its place as a fast-growing language is cemented by the fact that it is also the most common language spoken in Brazil.

Brazil is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and becoming quite the player in the global market. Portuguese is also the official language of 10 different countries, mostly in Africa and South America, so it’s a handy language to know if you are planning to do business in those areas.

Portuguese is also an important language to learn if you are planning to travel or work in Europe. It is an official language of the European Union, so it’s an important means of communication in the political and economic spheres of the EU. 

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