What are the ten most useful languages?

Any languages can be included, if you can support why that would be great. It would be nice if you said if it is a tough language to learn for an English speaker


I would love to travel the world. Mandarin Chinese is virtually only useful in China where as many other languages are useful in multiple countries.

2 Answers

  • CCBB
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    1) Mandarin (1,075 million speakers)

    This is of course the first official language of China, the most populated country in the world. So it's not such a great surprise this comes out tops.

    ** tough language to learn for an English speaker

    2) English (514 million speakers)

    These statistics include people who have English as a second lanaguge (e.g., includes many former British colonies).

    3) Spanish (425 million speakers)

    Spanish is now a strong rival to English for most widely used European language.

    4) Russian (275 million speakers)

    Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, and the largest native language in Europe.

    ** tough language to learn for an English speaker

    5) Arabic (256 million speakers)

    Arabic is a major source of vocabulary for languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Berber, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian, Swahili, Urdu, Hindustani (especially the spoken variety), Turkish, Malay, Rohingya, Bengali, Tagalog, and Indonesian, as well as other languages in countries where these languages are spoken. Also, there are many job opportunities in UAE, Saudi, Kuwait, etc. and Arabic would be very useful to know.

    ** tough language to learn for an English speaker

    6) Portuguese

    Today it is one of the world's major languages, ranked 6th according to number of native speakers (between 177 and 191 million). It is the language of about half of South America, even though Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. It is also a major lingua franca in Portugal's former colonial possessions in Africa.

    7) French (129 million speakers)

    It is an official language in 29 countries, most of which form what is called in French La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. According to the European Union, 129 million (26% of the 497,198,740) people in 27 member states speak French, of which 59 million (12%) are native speakers and 69 million (14%) claim to speak it as a second language, which makes it the third most spoken second language in the Union, after English and German.

    8) German

    Believe it or not, there are about 100 million native speakers and also about 80 million non-native speakers.

    German is the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union and is generally considered as a global language. Standard German is widely taught in schools, universities, and Goethe Institutes worldwide.

    10) Hindustani Langauges (541 million native, 904 million total)

    Also known as "Hindi-Urdu," is a term covering several closely related dialects in Pakistan and northern India, especially the vernacular form of the two national languages, Standard Hindi and Urdu, also known as Khariboli, but also several nonstandard dialects of the Hindi languages.

    ** tough languages to learn for an English speaker

    10) Malay/Indonesian (24 million speakers)

    Malay is an official language of Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore. In Indonesia and East Timor.

    ** tough language to learn for an English speaker

    Numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 include languages of the emerging markets. These are very useful. By emerging markets, I am referring to a nation's social, or business activity in the process of rapid industrialization. Examples of emerging markets include China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, much of Southeast Asia, countries in Eastern Europe (new EU countries), the Middle East, parts of Africa and Latin America.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, whether a language is useful or not completely depends on where you intend to live, what lifestyle you choose to lead, or what kind of occupation you hope to hold. If you were going to work at a hotel in Western Europe, you'd probably find languages like German, English and French a lot more useful than if you were living in rural China, where Mandarin, Cantonese and other various Chinese dialects would be preferred.

    If you were going to gauge usefulness purely on how many people in the world it would allow you to speak to, then the list of languages by number of native speakers is:

    1: Mandarin

    2. Hindustani

    3. Spanish

    4. English

    5. Arabic

    6. Portuguese

    7. Bengali

    8. Russian

    9. Japanese

    10. German

    Of course, there are major languages like French which aren't spoken by a huge amount of native speakers, but are relatively popular as second languages, so you may find that more useful compared to something like Bengali, for example.

    You said it would be nice to know if such languages are tough for an English speaker to learn. I would say that the Western European languages like Spanish, French, Italian and so on, are among the easiest languages for an English speaker to learn. Once you get onto distant, unrelated languages like Mandarin and Japanese, things get a lot more difficult, because there is no similarity in the vocabulary like there is with European languages, and sentence structure, idioms, cultural differences, etc, become more different to our own (this is only a generalization, since even some European languages have wildly different structures to English, but you get the idea).

    Hope that helps.


    Source(s): wikipedia for the list of languages by number of native speakers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.