According to Ethnologue, the foremost reference on living languages, there are 7,099 languages spoken in the world today and just 23 of these languages account for more than half of our global population of 7.6 billion people. (See the authoritative Worldometers for remarkable live statistics on our planet’s population.)
Among these 23 languages are Malay (#23, with 60.8 million first-language speakers), Persian (#22, with 61.9 million first-language speakers), and Italian (#21, with 63.4 million first-language speakers).
Below are the top 20 languages, by number of first-language speakers, ordered from #20 to #1. Make your best guess then click on the green “plus” sign to reveal each one. If you get a good score, feel free to boast in a comment below!
#20, with 68 million first-language speakers
#19, with 68.1 million first-language speakers
#18, with 69.1 million first-language speakers
#17, with 71.1 million first-language speakers
#16, with 71.8 million first-language speakers
#15, with 74.2 million first-language speakers
#14, with 76.1 million first-language speakers
French (Countries include France, Canada, Belgium, and many others)
#13, with 76.8 million first-language speakers
German (Countries include Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
#12, with 77.2 million first-language speakers
Korean (South Korea, North Korea)
#11, with 84.4 million first-language speakers
#10, with 119 million first-language speakers
Varieties of Lahnda, including Punjabi (Pakistan)
#9, with 128 million first-language speakers
#8, with 154 million first-language speakers
Russian (Russian Federation)
#7, with 219 million first-language speakers
Portuguese (Countries include Portugal, Brazil)
#6, with 242 million first-language speakers
#5, with 260 million first-language speakers
#4, with 295 million first-language speakers
Varieties of Arabic (Many countries in the Middle East)
#3, with 372 million first-language speakers
English (Countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada)
#2, with 437 million first-language speakers
Spanish (Countries include Spain, Mexico, and many nations in Central America and South America)
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What Parents Are Saying
"Adam's books and advice have made an amazing impact on our entire family. I started reading his work before I gave birth to my daughter almost five years ago, and have been following him ever since. My daughter is now trilingual (Italian, English, Spanish) like her mom, and is now learning to read in all three languages as well. We will continue to implement Adam's advice with our son, who will turn 1 in a couple of weeks. Thank you Adam for all that you do; you are a gift to the world!"
Bruna in the U.S.Originally from Italy
"I came across your book when I was pregnant with my daughter. I used your book for a post graduate project on bilingualism, for my personal life, and for my work supporting bilingual families, children in schools, and teachers. I have recommended your book, blog, YouTube channel, and other resources to everyone I have encountered on this path. Thanks so much for your hard work in this quest. Infinitely grateful, amigo."
Silvia in ScotlandOriginally from Spain
"I can't say enough good things about Adam Beck's book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability. Before I read it, I was hopeless that my almost 4-year-old son would become proficient in Portuguese, my mother tongue. However, after reading Adam's book and putting into practice every tactic suitable to our situation, I noticed extraordinary progress in my son's language ability. He is now 4 years and 5 months old and not only does he speak Portuguese with me, he interacts with his little brother, 20 months old, in Portuguese. I am beyond excited with such striking progress and forever thankful to Adam for providing invaluable tools for our bilingual children to thrive."
Deborah in the U.S.Originally from Brazil
"The Bilingual Monkeys website is such a wonderful resource and I'm grateful I found it at the beginning of our bilingual journey. Your book, especially, gave me a path to follow and motivation that it can really work. I pass on the link to both the website and book to anyone who will take it! Thank you, Adam, for being such a practical and positive leader in the bilingual community!"
Heidi in GermanyOriginally from the U.S
"I consider myself very lucky to have come across your blog in the vast expanse of the Internet, and I never go more than two or three days without checking the forum. The Bilingual Zoo is the perfect place to meet other parents of bilingual kids, exchange tips, and encourage each other. Your book has also been a great source of motivation, and I've given away copies to other bilingual families because I consider it the most practical, hands-on book on the subject."