21 May 2021

What are the most widely spoken languages in the world?

Categoria: Linguistic Services

by Silvia Giancola


When you think about the most widely spoken languages in the world, English is usually the first one that springs to mind.

However, if you’re operating on a global level, you can’t overlook other languages that are just as widespread.

So which are the key languages to communicate in when it comes to expanding your business?

Here are a few…

  • MandarinChinese – China is a huge market that is impatiently awaiting foreign capital and is progressively opening up to international investors
  • Spanish – The most widely spoken language in Latin America and the second most widely spoken language in the foremost economy in the world: the USA (50 million speakers)
  • German– Still the dominant language in European industry, an incredibly important market
  • Portuguese – The language of an enormous, emerging market in Brazil, which is attracting capital in many different, growing sectors, such as the pharmaceutical and energy sectors
  • Arabic – The official language of the countries of the Middle East, a strategically important export market comprising some of the richest countries in the world
  • French – While many people have for years believed that its time has passed, that couldn’t be further from the truth. French is spoken in over 29 countries around the world, including important African economies and countries in South East Asia (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). And as if that weren’t already enough, French is one of the official languages of the UN and EU
  • Russian – The most widely spoken language in Russia and the former Soviet Union, an area rich in raw materials, a key strategic location for many companies all over the world, and a political superpower.
  • Hindi – The language spoken by over 300 million people in India, many of whom do not have an adequate grasp of English. This means that being able to communicate in Hindi is an essential for any company intending to do business with the Indian subcontinent.


English is key


Despite its many variants, English still remains the lingua franca when it comes to conversation, sharing information and doing business in our globalized, interconnected world.

The reasons why English enjoys this privileged status range from the historical (the political, economic and commercial power of the British Empire, the Commonwealth and the colonies) to the geographical (English is spoken widely on all five main continents, with billions of native speakers and people who speak it as a second language). On top of that, English is the undisputed language of science, research, international political dialogue, business, music, Hollywood cinema and fashion.

It’s also the language most commonly used to communicate with the general public. In airports, railway stations and underground stations, on motorways across the world, in museums and on restaurant menus – wherever tourist information needs to be provided – English is used next to the local language, because the presumption is that most people have at least a basic understanding of it.

It’s no surprise, then, that English is taught to children from a very young age – it’s become an essential feather in the cap of every young person nowadays, and a fast-track ticket to integration, exchange, study and personal and professional development.


Asian languages: how many and which ones are necessary?


When it comes to the most relevant and useful languages, you simply cannot afford to overlook Asian languages like Chinese, Japanese, Hindi and Arabic.

As we’ve already mentioned, Chinese is a very important language on account of the role China has carved out for itself on the global stage over the years, becoming the second economic and commercial superpower on the planet, behind the USA. China has a thriving economic and financial market, combined with a huge population that has now become affluent and wants to buy Western brands. Needless to say, the ability to interact with the Chinese in their language is a massive bonus.

Japanese is the language of one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, with 130 million speakers living locally and the same number again scattered around the world. Japan therefore represents a great bet for any company specializing in the tech or robotics sectors, for example.

Hindi is spoken by over 300 million people in India, many of whom do not have an adequate grasp of English. This means that being able to communicate in Hindi is essential for any company intending to do business with the Indian subcontinent.

Last but not least, Arabic is spoken all over the world, but particularly around the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, which is home to several of the biggest exporters of oil and gas, offering unique business and investment opportunities.

For all of these reasons, multilingual communication is an essential asset in the modern world. Quite simply, the more languages you speak, the more business opportunities you can take advantage of. The ability to interact with a client, a partner or a supplier in their native language represents a key competitive advantage.

That’s exactly what we do here at Way2Global. We optimize content and communication in every relevant language for your business, and we also accompany you to trade fairs, conferences and meetings with international clients through our team of qualified interpreters, who are ready and waiting to ensure communication flows effectively towards a successful outcome.

Get in touch to explore how we can work together to benefit your business.


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