14. Nigerian Pidgin (120.7 million speakers)

  • First language speakers: 4.7 million
  • Total speakers: 120.7 million

Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing countries in terms of population. Indeed, it is estimated that the West African country will be the fourth-largest country in the world in terms of population by 2050 — just a hair behind the U.S. We can expect the Nigerian Pidgin to climb on this list in the coming decades following Nigeria’s population boom.

15. Marathi (99.1 million speakers)

  • First language speakers: 83.1 million
  • Total speakers: 99.1 million

Marathi is the third most common language in India, with most of its speakers concentrated in the state of Maharashtra. This language has existed in its current form for about 1,300 years, making it one of the oldest languages in the world!

16. Telugu (95.7 million speakers)

  • First language speakers: 82.7 million
  • Total speakers: 95.7 million

Telugu is the fourth most common language in India, right behind Marathi. Telugu is predominantly spoken in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, although it’s also the official language of several other states. It is a part of the Dravidian language family, which has been around for about 5,000 years.

17. Turkish (88.1 million speakers)

  • First language speakers: 82.2 million
  • Total speakers: 88.1 million

Turkish is the official language of — you guessed it — Turkey. What you may not know is that Turkish used to be written in a modified version of the Arabic alphabet until 1928, when it was replaced by the Roman alphabet. There are sizeable Turkish-speaking populations in Cyprus, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece and other European states.

18. Tamil (86.4 million speakers)

  • First language speakers: 78.4 million
  • Total speakers: 86.4 million

Tamil is the fifth most common language in India, with a sizeable presence in the state of Tamil Nadu. It’s also commonly spoken in Sri Lanka and Singapore by Tamil people. Tamil is considered the oldest living language in the world, with a history spanning more than 5,000 years!

19. Yue Chinese (85.6 million speakers)

  • First language speakers: 85.2 million
  • Total speakers: 85.6 million

Yueh Chinese is a group of closely-related Chinese dialects. The most popular of these dialects is Cantonese, which is spoken predominantly in the Guangdong province of mainland China as well as in Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is also popular among overseas communities, making it one of the most common dialects of Chinese outside of China.

20. Vietnamese (85.3 million speakers)

  • First language speakers: 84.6 million
  • Total speakers: 85.3 million

The Vietnamese language has six tones and is, of course predominantly spoken in Vietnam. However, did you know that it is also recognized as an official language in the Czech Republic, and can therefore be used in courts and official radio and television broadcasts?

There you have it! That’s the list of the top 20 most spoken languages in the world. Are you inspired to open your world with language skills and culture? Discover all the languages Berlitz has to offer.

The most spoken languages in UAE

Now that you know what the most spoken languages are in the world, you might ask yourself: what about the most popular languages in the United Arab Emirates? The UAE has one of the most diverse populations in the world. Let's find out what are the most popular languages spoken here!

1. English

It might surprise you, but English is more commonly spoken in the United Arab Emirates than Arabic. With many expatriates living in the country, English is used as a bridge between people from different nations to understand each other. English is taught in schools as a second language and is the main language of trade, tourism, and business in the UAE.

2. Arabic

Arabic is the official language of the UAE. It has numerous dialects, but Modern Standard Arabic is the language used in official documents and government departments. Gulf Arabic is also very popular in the area because of the neighboring Gulf States, including Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

To attain citizenship in the United Arab Emirates, the country’s laws require foreigners to be fluent in Arabic.

3. Hindi/Urdu

In recent years, the UAE has experienced a significant increase in the Indian population. Most of the Indian expats live in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and are making their mark on many branches of businesses, including manufacturing, financial services, retail, tourism, and information technology.

Hindi and Urdu use the same vocabulary but have been influenced by different languages in the past. Since they are very similar, many people in the UAE consider them a single language.

There are, of course, many other popular languages spoken by the citizens of the UAE. But with a knowledge of the ones listed above, you will be set on your way to clear and open communication in the country.