The 5 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World

The 5 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World

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Being able to speak more than one language has always been advantageous. By speaking and understanding more than one language, you connect with more people.

There are some languages that are widely spoken and the latest list of the approximate number of speakers of each language may surprise you.

Chinese tops the list with a projected billion speakers of the language. Spanish is second with over 414 million, followed by English with over 335 million speakers, with Hindi in fourth place with 260 million speakers. In 5th pace is Arabic, with approximately 237 million speakers of this ancient language.

Language and history

Many may be surprised to see Arabic in fifth place on the list. An ancient language of which there were and still are, many dialects. It was declared a ‘foreign language’ by the French colonial powers in Algeria and beyond. By the 1960s, the populations of many Arab countries were illiterate, both in Arabic and English.

It seems an impossible feat that six decades later, Arabic is now widely spoken. It is a sign of how powerful language is in both culture and history.

Speaking more than one language is advantageous, with some research suggesting that raising children bilingually has social and educational benefits.

Never too late

It’s never too late to learn a new language, with many people taking on the challenge with online language courses.

But is it worth it? And does it matter which language?

#1 Makes you smarter

Keeping your brain active with new challenges enables cognitive brain function to remain sharp. In other words, the bits of your brain you use to solve problems, plan and work on other mentally demanding tasks can function better.

Shifting from one language to another gives the brain a workout and you may find with online language courses that your brain responds quicker.

#2 More job opportunities

Some people think that you need more than one language in certain sectors or industries but frankly, in the technological age, the world has shrunk. In any job, you could find yourself talking with people from all over the world.

In other countries, learning, speaking and using more than one language is commonplace, with some suggesting that the UK along with other developed countries need to catch up.

#3 Protect against dementia

In the UK, dementia is the number one health concern. Keeping the brain active and challenged is, say some research findings, one way of staving off dementia. Studies have also found that someone who speaks more than one language is less likely to suffer from early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

This doesn’t mean that bilingualism is a cure-all, and the study sample size was small but the conclusions were clear: the higher the language proficiency, the longer the disease appears to be kept at bay.

#4 Connections

Looking at the research for bilingual children, the findings are clear: bilingual children could socially connect with all kinds of cultures and people. As adults, we can do that too.

Taking online language courses doesn’t have to be an academic move. It may be that you want to enjoy the local culture more when you holiday in foreign climates, or you may opt to learn another language because you want a challenge, you have time to do it now and so on.

An expanding world

On one hand, technology has shrunk our world. On the other hand, language allows us to expand our own world. As people move around the globe, for pleasure or for work, they bring with them different cultures, ways of doing things and different languages and dialect.

By being able to converse in their language, no matter how basic, is to instantly forge a connection. In the modern workforce, you can have work colleagues from all over the world, so why wouldn’t you want to connect?

The list of top spoken languages in the world showed some surprises too. At number 10 on the list was Javanese, spoken by 42% of the population of Indonesia. Like many other languages, it has several dialects, meaning that it is spoken differently in some places than in others.

Learning a language is fascinating, allowing you to be immersed in the culture and history of countries.

Which language?

The choice is yours! NCC Home Learning have a range of online language courses including French and Spanish. The courses are comprehensive, enabling you to understand both written and spoken language.

Enrol online and starting learning a new language today.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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