languages in 2050 Fair Languages

What are the Top 5 World Languages in 2050?

What are the languages that will be most widely spoken by the middle of this century? According to so called engco model of language forecasting the top 5 languages in 2050 are going to be

  • Chinese
  • Spanish
  • English
  • Hindi-Urdu
  • Arabic

I guess, there is no big surprise in this list in the end but those are undoubtedly the realities that children have to face when growing up and search their workplace in this globalized world, even more so than us today. It is expected that Chinese, Spanish and English will be the dominant languages in global commerce.

As a side note, there are also statistics that predict, the United States will become the biggest Spanish speaking country by 2050. This would also lead to Spanish being the second-most-spoken language after Chinese.

So what are the challenges? Of course, we need to prepare future generations who will be part of the workforce in 2050 for what we think the global landscape will look like by then. Unfortunately, most plannings in the education sector don’t go that far ahead. I feel, in many cases the state of affairs in the public school sector is even behind today’s realities, already.

What we will might see then are phenomenons similar to the run on German language classes we are currently seeing in southern European countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece or Italy. There are people waiting in line in front of the Goethe Institut in Valencia because they think learning German will give them the opportunity to find a job in Germany.

Therefore, I was astonished to learn that in the state of Georgia many schools now made learning Mandarin mandatory in public schools from pre-K through 12th grade. According to NPR “most of the 25,000 students are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced lunch, and about half don’t graduate.”

Superintendent Romain Dallemand argues that “Students who are in elementary school today, by 2050 they’ll be at the pinnacle of their career. They will live in a world where China and India will have 50 percent of the world GDP. They will live in a world where, if they cannot function successfully in the Asian culture, they will pay a heavy price.”

Of course, Dallemand gets some headwind from parents who would rather see their kids learn Spanish for the reasons I mentioned above. But Dallemand says that “it is important for communities to educate our children for their future, not our past.”

What do you think? Do you have children who have just started school? What languages do you want them to learn to be prepared for the future?

via New America Media | NPR – Picture by Yann, via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of Languages - Infographic

  • komodov

    And in what language was this sentence written?

    “What we will might see then are phenomenons similar to the run on German language classes we are currently seeing in southern European countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece or Italy.”

  • guest

    There are not 1.2 billion mandarin speakers, more like 850 million. That number probably includes a lot of Cantonese speakers as well as other types of Chinese.

    • Yes, I think you are right.

      • raul

        Portuguese is a language of the future. It is spoken officially in 10 countries, comprising 5 continents. 250 million conservative figure. Now with the World Cup 2014 and Olympics in 2016 In Brasil, everyone is going to want to learn Portuguese as a second language. Watch out, the Portuguese language is here and it is the 5th or 6th most spoken in the world right now. Plus we understand Spanish perfectly.Talk about an advantage.

        • Cesáreo

          I think dominance doesn’t depend on “how many” speak a language but “who” speak it.

          • Joe

            That’s right. Even the Chinese are learning Portuguese as they are doing a ton of trade with all the Portuguese speaking countries. Who else speaks Portuguese? How about Brazilians? Brazil’s economy is currently the 5th strongest in the world. Angola and Mozambique are African economic emerging powerhouses, and both of these countries have Portuguese as the official language. Macau, China gambling revenues already exceeds those of Las Vegas…and Portuguese is a co-official language there. I could give many more examples, but you get the picture, I hope.

        • Comentador

          Pero qué coño dices del portugués XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

  • Good… From these languages, I know Arabic and English…. 🙂 Also, Russian, Ukrainian and somewhat German… 🙂 (After German, targeting Spanish, French or Latin)

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  • Yeah right, only 59 mil french speakers… I’m sure the 60 mil frenchies, the 4 mil belgian french speaking, the 7 mil canadian french speaking, the swiss, all the african countries where the french is the only vehicular language are happy to read this… 120 mil should be more accurate but, hey whatever… Keep being you, that’s always a pleasure to see the world form an anglo-saxon point of view…

    • The 59 million is the number of French speakers connected to the Internet. There are also only 75 million German speakers, representing about 79% of the German population.

      And though you are right that the Infographic probably reflects an anglo-saxon point of view as Transfluent is based in the U.S. I should point out that if you want to categorize my point of view you should know that I am German and live in France 🙂

  • Juste the mention” Chinese” as a language spoken by “1.2 billion” people shows how little the author knows about what’s outside the borders of his own country… Chinses is NOT a language and the most common language is “Mandarine” and is native to only about 300 mil people, and is sopken by around 7 to 800 mil people…

    • The number of Arabic speakers is also not correct but that’s the problem with these infographics. According to Wikipedia the number is somewhere between 280 million and 440 million depending on what dialects are counted in.

    • Bruce Beer

      I lived in China 3 yrs. No matter what is said pop. In China is abt 1 billion 500 million. Births underreported to avoid investigations by Chinese gov.
      Yes many dialects, but gov. mandating (believe me. the Gov is enforcing all news in Mandarin, high school graduation requiring Madarin, gov. jobs requiring Mandarin, etc.) Hong Kong learning Mandarin, as well as many in surrounding nations which are economic power houses: Japan, Korea, Indonesia, etc., etc.

  • And since the author is also the founder of Deutsch Happens, which goal is to promote German as a foreign language, and since the 120 mil frenchspaking are now replaced by the 90 germanspeaking at #10 in your top 10, I call this an intellectual fraud… But hey again, she’s also the editor of this site… Wonders how long these comments are going to stay…

    • Oh dear. Because I offer free German lessons I pick infographics that list German in the top 10? Really?

      And if you would take the time and read the graphic you would notice that it’s not “my” top ten, it’s the top ten of Transparent Languages. Fell free to contact them with your issues at

      And why do you worry about your comment?

  • I’ll be doing everything I can to get German back into the Top 5! 😉

    • Viel Glück 🙂 As long as Germany’s economy and export numbers stay relevant, knowing German will be a good “niche” skill. 😉

      • Kirsten… From a business perspective, German won’t be too important to me. As you pointed out in a recent exchange we had, I’m well over 25 years old now and irrelevant in the job market! ;-)… Learning German is just for my own personal satisfaction at the moment. But you never know, if Angela ever retires… there may be a job going….

        • Don’t count on that. Mutti will rule Germany forever 🙂

      • Joe

        Too bad German will never be as important as Spanish or English unless its Europe then yes.

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  • Loup Solitaire

    I think the top 5 is wrong. My analysis gives :

    1. Chinese (Mandarin) : around 850m to 1300m depending on the local languages strength
    2. French : 715m (official prediction, but highly depends of literacy rates improvements in French-speaking Africa)
    3. Hindi (all dialects) : around 710m (if 42% of Indians rate is stable)
    4. Spanish
    5. English
    6. Arab

    • Sam

      No way my friend. French cannot be a top language neither today nor in 40 years 😀

      • Randy McDonald

        Why not?

        • GuilleKnows

          (Yes, sorry, you wrote three years ago)
          Well, the info-graphic is quite clear (see the Internet use in particular).
          Unless some exceptions, countries where French is spoken are either, way more underdeveloped or with blurrier future than countries where Spanish is spoken; these countries, although equally corrupt, are richer, have easier access to developed countries and/or connected economies (UE, NAFTA, MERCOSUR, etc.) and contribute to global developments in a considerable greater way (more doctors and engineers in the US speak Spanish than French, for example). And more important, something you should worry about is:
          – Increasing the number of speakers doesn’t necessarily mean that your language will grow in a proper way. In fact, if the language use increase only in poor countries, due to the inability to absorb and give proper salaries to people coming from more developed economies, it will only end being less competitive, so the interest of the language will definitely decrease and therefore, the use of the language (why learning French if I can only work in Congo and there is not way to get a proper salary in that country, or at least not for a significant number of people). You can easily see the example of this in Canada, where the language will end dying.

          Sorry for my English by the way. Regards

          • Randy McDonald

            Not a problem.

            I don’t think that French is dying in Canada, though. Scattered minorities outside of Québec and adjacent areas of New Brunswick and Ontario are going to disappear, barring unlikely phenomena (or are they unlikely?) like new Francophone immigration, but French is secure in the areas (Québec and neighbouring bits) where well over 90% of Canadian Francophones live.

            Francophone Africa may be underdeveloped now, but can we count on this remaining the case indefinitely? I’m not sure.

          • Liz Martinez

            There are 220 Million French Speakers in the world. This graphic is wrong, and the top ten is also wrong. More recent research shows French jumping to number 2 most spoken language in the world by 2050.

      • Chris
    • Cesáreo


      • Randy McDonald

        French is a widely-spoken world language, not only the native language of 75 million or so first-language speakers in the developed world (France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, etc) but an official and spoken language of numerous African countries with a combined population of a quarter-billion people.

    • Comentador

      Sigue soñando XDDDDDDDDDDDDD

    • FromHELL★666★

      French is useless.
      I’m italian but I’d say Portuguese or German instead of French.

  • Lorena

    There is a huge MISTAKE about PORTUGUESE language!

    There are more than 256 million NATIVE people speaking it worldwide (never it will be 178 million, just Brazil has more than 200 million people speaking it), imagine non-native people… the number gonna high for more than 280 million. Portuguese is officialy spoken by 9 countries and it’s taught obligatorily by most of south american countries…

    I don’t konw about the future, but Portuguese is the 5ht most spoken language in the world nowadays.


    • Cesáreo

      taught obligatorily by most of south american countries? really?

      • Randy McDonald

        By Brazil’s Mercosur partners, yes.

        • German Cuellar

          That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Portuguese is only taught in Brazil (I was born in Colombia an lived in Argentina)

    • German Cuellar

      That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Portuguese is only taught in Brazil (I was born in Colombia an lived in Argentina)…

    • Luz Marina Chamorro Vallejo

      WRONG!!!!! I am proudly Colombian and we do not have to learn Portuguese at all, English is a must, I had French and German classes as well, but Portuguese? come on!

    • Bruce Beer

      I just came back from 3 months in SA, AND BRAZIL has passed a law that all high school graduates must master Spanish to graduate.
      US on line to have more Spanish speakers than ANY other country, which adds to the standing of Spanish, being the second lang. in the most powerful nation.
      Most of all the African countries (where a lot of French and Portuguese are spoken)
      are rapidly switching to English.

  • Geo Washington I

    I guess none of you consider that technology rules the world and technolgy is driven by programming.

    All computer code is written in English.

    English will still be the most dominant language in 2050.

    • Comentador

      Sigue soñando XDDDDDDDD

      • Lone Starr

        Taco taco?

        • Sattack210


    • anonym

      All computer code is written in machine language!!!
      which is really just a bunch of 0s and 1s…

    • john smith

      1s and 0s are not ‘english’.

    • Miguel Joel Rivas

      This article is not taking into account all speakers of those languages because if it did, English would have surpassed all there other languages and Spanish would have dropped to 4th place.

    • Tino Trivino

      lol, logic=0!!!

    • DaveyFromChi

      Absolutely! Every country chooses English as their go to foreign language. It’s growing rapidly!

  • swami

    TAMIL is the Best language

    • CompaqdeskproEN

      English because tamil is hard to swite well harder than english but it aint a bad language.

  • swami

    Spain, Portugal, Greece ,German,French & Russian all are do not have OWN LATTER
    That languages how can come ” top10 “

  • CompaqdeskproEN

    ENGLISH i want spanish to die forever because it just sucks.

    • CompaqdeskproEN

      i know it too i like english better

      • Cesáreo

        English grammar rules. English pronunciation sucks.

        • JohnR

          Which kind of English pronunciation? There is not just one kind.

          • Cesáreo

            I’d say all of them. But don’t get me wrong, I just mean it’s difficult because of its many vowels and consonants as compared to other languages with 3 or 5 vowels, for instance.

    • Ninette

      Spanish “just sucks”?
      Would you care to ellaborate on that statement?
      Why does it suck?
      Do you not like the sound of the language? Is the writing system a bit difficult, in your opinion? Does the language itself give the impression that it might be difficult to master?
      If you’re going to criticize something, at least give a better argument than, “[object of criticism here] just sucks.”

      • Joe

        No he just jealous! Jealous that there are people in this country that speaks it and in many other countries.

      • Monika Otter

        My guess is that CompaqdeskproEN is about 13 years old and having a tough time with Spanish class in middle school. Don’t take this too seriously.

    • thomas

      if any language show dominate it should be English, Spanish, Italy, Portuguese, French or Arab maybe that’s it no other language other language sucks and its fucking difficult.

      • Luz Marina Chamorro Vallejo

        Italy? or italian? lol

      • Bruce Beer


    • Luz Marina Chamorro Vallejo

      I think you are just not smart enough 😛

  • mark

    my experience in travel is that people in all countries are racing to learn english because it is the language of global economics and politics. perhaps the raw total number of humans will speak chinese, but there is no factor analysis in this statement. for example, if the majority of people on earth speak chinese as their native language, they will still have to speak english to engage in commerce and politics. all native languages other than english will become vestigial if the internet continues as the foundation of the global economy. i now live and teach english in cambodia. some students here are studying chinese as well because there is economic benefit in trade with china here and now. but people in china are also studying english, and i would bet that in less than ten years the people here in cambodia who are studying chinese will find that all the chinese people they meet are speaking english! and i agree the with coder, since i am one, and would add that i have never seen a computer program written in chinese or spanish.

  • Myu tube

    The images you put below the article are wrong, Hindi has more native speakers than Arabic.

  • Heather

    Honestly, this makes me want to not learn these languages. Why? Because we need those other estimated 90%! Yes, you might be able to do business with the more common languages. but do not neglect the smaller ones! Languages are systems of dispersing culture and thought, and a lot is lost in translation. So learn these if you want, but remember that the world loses diversity when languages go extinct. Keep the variety!

  • Ricky Minaj

    Esperanto is the best language.

    • Comentador

      Vuelve a la cama.

  • Atabaskan

    There is no any data about Turkish or Turkic languages. It is the most spreaded language in Eurasia which is spoken more then 200 million people in 15 countries at least

  • Comentador

    Aprendan español y háganse un favor.

  • John

    One of the obvious languages is in not included in the top 5 – Portuguese.
    Portuguese is spoken on 5 continents. The 10 Portuguese speaking countries currently, and will have, tremendous world economic influence i.e., Brazil (1 of the 4 BRIC countries, and 5th strongest world economy right now – 200 million speakers right there).
    In Africa 6 nations speak Portuguese officially. Of these, Angola has a booming economy, and Mozambique is not far behind. These are oil rich countries – 30 million Portuguese speakers.)
    In Asia you have Macau, China (Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia. Macau is also the Asian gateway to the Portuguese speaking world). And East Timor which is also an oil rich country. Portuguese is co-officially spoken there with Tetum which itself has tons of Portuguese vocabulary. Goa in India is also important because it wants to do business which the Portuguese speaking world, especially Brazil. There is a huge Brazilian/Japanese community in Brazil too.
    In Europe you have Portugal. Portuguese influence in all around the globe and getting stronger day by day.

  • BlatantIgnorant

    Didn’t you forget French? It is spoken in countries other than France…

    • Liz Martinez

      Yes. There are 220 MILLION French speakers. Seems almost purposeful that it is nowhere in this article!



  • Francisco

    Mark my words…portuguese is one of the best languages to know for the future world economy! Learn Portuguese, you will not regret it! It is spoken by 270 million people on 5 continents! Even the Chinese, Japanes and Indians are enthusiastically learning Portuguese!

    The only 3 true world languages (spoken on every continent) right now are: English, French and Portuguese. Spanish is a strong REGIONAL language, NOT a world language. Outside of the Americas, no one really knows that much about it, or cares that much about it. 60% of all the Spanish speaking countries are nothing more than modern day banana republics! Hispanics claim that the strongest economic spanish speaking countries are: Mexico and Colombia. Are they kidding?? These are drug cartel countries!!

    But Brazil is the 5th strongest world economy country and getting stronger! And Portuguese speaking Angola which is extremely rich in oil, diamonds and precious metals is the Brazil of Africa!! These 2 countries are excellent examples of countries that matter greatly internationally, economically for present and future.

    • Ty

      Out of all the countries you listed, you didn’t even mention “Spain,” with country that made the god damn language. “Outside of the Americas, no one really knows that much about it…” what a load of shit.

      • Frank

        Well since Francisco didn’t mention Spain, I will.

        Spain is not very like by anyone who has ever visited there. Google the reviews of people who have visited Spain – – at least 75% feel they are rude, arrogant people. Spain is awash in economic troubles of their own with an unemployment rate of 27%. Oh, and most people hate the Castilian lisping, gun-fire accent.

        So, of all the Spanish speaking countries the one that people know the most about is Spain, and their general impression of it and its people is quite negative. And they think that the spanish speaking latin american countries are peopled with misfits, criminals, drug traffickers, and the rest only care about partying. Generally, people in the world do not take latin america seriously.

    • Carlos Hidalgo

      Youre only thinking in terms of total GDP which is based off total population mostly. For example, Brazil has the highest GDP in Latin America because it had the most people.

      Countries like Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and yes, and Mexico are doing much better than Brazil in terms of GDP per capita.

      You also neglected to mention, that Portuguese language is virtually non existent in North America, while Spanish has a huge presense in both North and North America, as well as being the unofficial second language of the most powerful country on Earth.

      More Europeans in Europe also learn Spanish than Portuguese; I have run into plenty of Europeans that speak Spanish, but not Portuguese.

      I’ll give you Africa and maybe Asia(mostly Japan), but thats mainly because of the Brazilian immigration there. In China, English is the only European language learned on a wide scale.

      So maybe reign in that Portugese insecurity? Its not a good look.

  • Timothy

    I’m British and completely agree with Francisco for the following reasons:

    The Portuguese language finds itself particularly well positioned in the context of the linguistic dispute being conducted on the international stage, as it is one of those rare idioms that has the status of being the mother tongue in countries or territories on five continents.

    Portuguese is actually the fifth most widely spoken mother tongue on a global level, it is an
    official language in 10 countries/territories on 5 continents. It is the working language of twelve international organizations, and is used daily by about 270 million human beings.

    And from an economic standpoint, the Portuguese language has become a language of great economic relevance, as most of the Portuguese speaking nations are rich in oil, diamonds, precious metals, and other important commodities. The developed world is very aware of this. In fact, China and the USA in particular are top trading trading partners of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, to name just 3 global, economically influential Portuguese speaking nations.

    When the Chinese, Americans, Japanese and East Indians are themselves happily learning Portuguese, it speaks volumes about the current prestige and economic importance of this beautiful and hugely important romance language!

  • Hannibal

    A few issues with the projections… the recent numbers seem spurious given the information already out there with UN estimates.

    Also, Arabic is as much a unified single language as French, Spanish, and Romanian are mutually intelligible… It’s a religious/political loophole and not representative of the on-the-ground reality. It also assumes a high level of standardized education (MSA) and cross-national exposure, like Yemini’s and Morroccans watching Egyptian cinema. I’m a second-language Arabic speaker, and while beautiful, it’s basically a falsehood and possibly a conspiracy (see I’ve adopted the culture!) to get in the top five, when more deserving lingua francas exist. Hindi/Urdu is in the opposite category as it’s fundamentally one language with two alphabets and an artificial, political distinction.

  • English rules the internet. If you want access to the best porn archive in the world you must learn Russian and have access to the Kremlin. You could also learn English and use the internet. English dominates on the internet. English dominates in IT as a whole …like latin dominated science (but not porn).

    Conclusion: Learn a second language whatever your native language may be. People like languages.

  • Zdenka Micka

    The graph is wrong. There are already 2+ Billion English speakers in the world if you include India and 2nd language English speakers.

  • fred

    OMG you forget all the French spoken in most African countries plus Quebec, Caribbean, Polynesia, New Caledonia, Southern Africa (Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Seychelles)…

  • Dharmendra Kumar

    Read the fact foolish

  • KoreaJapan

    Korean language probably be top 20.

  • Manny Oliveira

    I think most spoken langueges and the fastest growing are much the same.
    1. Mandarin. China is the fastest growing economy. Chinese is the lingua franca of Central and South east asia – lots of people, well over a quarter of the worlds population by my rough guess. Every person can either can speak it or eventually will around parts of Asia.
    2. English. England commonwealth – enough said. Not to mention international business has made this the lingua franca if you will. Britain-Canada-U.S-Australia (doesn’t get anymore global that that).
    3. Spanish. Spain is nothing to sneeze at it, not to mention all the Spanish colonies and now native speakers in most of South America, all of Central America, and now North America (all of Mexico, and lower US states). Mexico has almost 15 cities with over a million people alone, and over 120 million total. Spain-Mexico, South America (is a strong trident).
    4. Hindu/Bengali/Punjabi. India is not going anywhere. Over a billion people in the country. English will always be there second or third language. All combined each of these languages constitute half of the total “Indian speakers in South Asia).
    5. Arabic. The Arab language spreads through a large expanse – north africa, into East Africa, through the Middle East and Arabia, up into former Russian held countries, all the way to Pakistani border. A lot of the Arab world is growing economically because of Oil (which they have a lot of). There is currently 400 million Arabic speakers in the world.

    (4 way tie for 6th place)

    – Russian. (Slavic). Russia is the largest continent on earth, with over 150 Million people in Russia, not to mention the many more millions that speak it in former Soviet states and even within the European eastern block.

    – Portuguese. Although Portugal has only 10 million people, Brazil (probably the most advanced South American country) has well over 200 million people. Also there are a few small African countries who speak it as a second language.

    – German. Germany is by far and away the strongest European economy, the most stable partner in the European Union, and still very strong militarily (maybe the strongest in Europe (after Russia). Germany has always been, and is currently a very advanced country – in terms of technology, construction, and trade. Let’s not forget English is a Germanic language.

    – French. Say what you will. But France is probably one of the most beautiful countries and languages in the world, that’s gotta count for something. Let’s not forget that French is a second language, in Canada, some of the African countries, and is offered as a second languages in a number of Caribbean countries, as well as a few European and South American countries. French should always feature as a prominent language. Africa is also growing by leaps economically – and if French is to revived and thrive it will be the Africans who will be most responsible.

    I think Italian (Roman/Latin), Japanese, Malaysian/Indonesia/Singapore (Javanese), Indo-Aryan (Farsi-Dari-Urdu-Pashto), will always maintain their significance due to their populations, economies, or geography.

    Sad to say that the Greek and Hebrew languages will only turn into only an indulgence. Not to mention lesser known Native north american, tribal African, who will become more obscure.

  • Miguel Joel Rivas

    Your information is incorrect. English is the most spoken language by ALL speakers (Primary, secondary etc speakers) and probably surpassed Chinese by now. I have been in Europe and Asia teaching English for the past year and English just keeps on growing and growing. As for Chinese, this language is also huge in South-East Asia. Thais, Laotians, Cambodians and Vietnamese are learning it as a Second or Third language. See, you would have known this if you actually looked this up instead of getting all of your “info” off Facebook.

  • FromHELL★666★

    Hindi? Really? I would learn Portuguese or French instead of Hindi.
    Hindi is useless.

  • Olive

    I will accept Chinese as the language of the future when they put out a world hit like Despacito.

    I will also accept Chinese as a cool country when they win the FIFA World Cup. In the meantime, they can keep doing whatever they do.

  • DaveyFromChi

    English is the MOST important language BY FAR!!