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What is the most spoken language in the world?

April 26, 2018 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

What is the most spoken language in the world?

I mean, it’s English, right?

And indeed, many people believe this. In fact, most native English speakers believe it to the extent that they say things like, “I don’t know why everyone in the whole world doesn’t just speak English.”

And yeah… It’d make everything a lot easier.

Or would it?

You see, English isn’t actually the most commonly spoken language in the world.

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English has 340 million native speakers making it only the third most common language. Spanish comes in second with more than 400 million speakers as a native language.

Though arguably when talking about English we have to include non-native speakers of which there are another 500 million proficient speakers, and about another 172 million proficient non-native Spanish speakers (according to Instituto Cervantes)… so that gives us 572 million Spanish speakers…

… and 840 million English speakers.

But English still isn’t the most common language.

Ohhhhhh no.

Not by a long way.

You see, there are about a billion Mandarin speakers out there, and nearly 1.2 billion (about 16% of the world’s population) speak some form of Chinese as a first language.

So what is the most spoken language in the world?

That’d be Chinese.

Of course, simply being the most spoken language isn’t enough to make it a good choice as a lingua franca. It’s more difficult than that (not to mention that Chinese presents a serious learning barrier to most people with its tones).

That, however, is a topic for another day.


P.S. Regardless of how many speakers there are… if you’re struggling to Speak English well, my best selling book can help you – see here for details.


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