Thinking about expanding your business internationally?
You need to consider which language will be the best choice for you and your business so that you could reap all the benefits of the global market.
Indeed, you can start small. Simply think about which regions you want to target and the languages spoke there.
But you have to be careful! Sometimes numbers can be deceitful. Why?
Keep in mind that the number of speakers is not directly confined to the international influence of a language. Rather, it is all about how fast a language is growing.
If you are worried that you don’t know enough about the fastest growing languages in the world, read this blog and by the end of it, you will be an expert.
We have devised a list of the fastest-growing languages in the world and in the US to help you out with your next move to the global market.
1. The fastest growing languages in the world
Let’s start with the fastest growing languages in the world. You might be familiar with some of them, but there are languages that you might have never thought of seeing in this list.
The number of English speakers: English is probably among the first languages that crossed your mind, right! Indeed, English, the most spoken language in the world when it comes to the number of speakers. Over 1.4 billion people in the world speak English.
However, is this enough to be the fastest-growing language in the world?
Growth of English: Actually, English exponential growth over the last century, gaining nearly 900 million speakers, is truly astonishing, yet not enough to make it the fastest-growing language in the world.
Still, the statistics on the English growth rate are not so bad, to say the least: In a single decade (2011-2021) the language of Shakespeare has gained over 245 million speakers.
Overall, English is an official language in 67 different countries, as well as 27 non-sovereign entities.
It has established itself as the global lingua franca. In other words, people usually opt for English as a means of communication when they don’t have a common native tongue.
In addition, on a global scale, English has become an obligatory part of the school curriculum. This may seeem as a direct consequence of the huge popularity of the language in recent years.
But how has English become so popular?
Well, one of the main reasons is the British Empire and its huge influence. It covered one-fourth of the world’s surface and was among the greatest economic powers in the world.
Today English is an official language in many territories that were closely linked to the British Empire. English, spoken on all continents on the planet Earth.
Another reason for English’s massive growth in the last decade is the technological and scientific advances of the US. The country has become a leader in the sphere of science and thus, the English languages are closely associated with it.
Moreover, English is the language of business. The US, Canada and the UK have always, oriented towards innovation and economic growth, so no wonder business people around the world communicate in English!
Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic)
The number of Arabic speakers: For the last century the number of Arabic speakers has nearly tripled – a record which even English cannot beat! During the same period of time English has increased its speakers by 221%.
Where is Arabic Spoken?: An official language in 25 countries, Arabic is the main language spoken in the Middle East. What’s more, it has a special place in the Muslim culture since this is the language of the Holy book of Islam – the Quran.
Growth of Arabic: Indeed, one of the most important reasons for the popularity of this language is the ever-increasing cultural altruism and genuine interest in the Arabic language. People want to learn more about this 1,500 years old language and the Arabic culture.
The language of the Quran has many interesting features. It is a right-to-left language, meaning that people write from the right to the left side. What’s more, the words always begin with a consonant followed by a vowel.
Why Arabic is so popular: Another reason for the huge popularity of the Arabic language is related to the flourishing economy of the Middle East offers makes it a necessity to be fluent in Arabic. The Middle East used to be a war zone, but today the Arabic-speaking world is producing nearly 40% of the world’s oil and around 18% of its gas.
As English is not very popular in this region, Arabic remains the language of business and it seems this will not change in the years to come.
Growth of Portuguese: Portuguese has increased its speakers by 297% in the last decade, bettering the above-mentioned record of Arabic.
Where is Portuguese spoken? An official language in 9 countries, Portuguese continues to gain more and more popularity. Its rise began during the time of the Portuguese Empire which conquered lands in South America and Asia.
Why is Portuguese so popular? Today Portuguese is spoken in Brazil – a former colony of the Kingdom of Portugal. Nevertheless, Brazil has found its own way to prosperity and is currently among the fastest developing economies in the world.
As a result, Portuguese, and especially Brazilian Portuguese, are becoming even more influential and thus, continue to grow in popularity and speakers.
Also Read: Portuguese eCommerce Translation for Brazil
Overall, Portuguese is neither the oldest nor the youngest language in the world. Yet, spoken across continents and thus, can help you reach millions of new customers!
Growth of Urdu: This is the fastest-growing language of the last 50 years with an increase of 95%. This tendency does not seem to slow down since in the last decade its speakers have increased by 35%.
The number of Urdu speakers: Today there are 230 million native speakers and over 50 million L2 speakers in the world.
Where is Urdu spoken? Urdu is an official language in Pakistan and India, yet it is way more widely spoken than that. There are huge Urdu communities in the US and UK, the United Arab Emirates, France and Germany where it is beginning to gain more and more popularity.
Why is Urdu so widely spoken? Due to the recent economic growth of India, Urdu is becoming more significant for business. Offering products in the local language is always beneficial, so investors in India are opting for Urdu.
Also Read: Hindi vs Urdu: What’s The Difference?
Another key factor in Urdu’s popularity is the rapidly growing population of Pakistan. Thus, it is often considered one of the fastest-growing languages in the world.
Urdu used to be regarded as the language of the elite and it is considered the lingua franca of South Asia. It is the language of all the Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs living in this area. Due to the diverse linguistic landscape of the region, Urdu has become the main means of communication for the local people.
The number of Mandarin Chinese speakers: Over a single decade Mandarin Chinese has done the impossible – this Chinese dialect has doubled its speakers! There are over 1.1 billion Mandarin Chinese speakers and 20 million L2 speakers in the world.
Where is Chinese spoken? It is the official language of China, Taiwan and Singapore. Many people consider China’s growing population as the main reason why Mandarin Chinese is among the fastest-growing languages in the world.
But this is not entirely the case!
Also Read: How To Localize Your Website For China
Why is Chinese among the fastest growing languages? While it plays a role, China’s economy is growing faster than any other. Moreover, China is the largest E-Commerce market in the world – over 50% of all online sales come from China.
In addition, both Taiwan and Singapore have become leaders in the fields of technology and innovation, thus, offering a number of business opportunities and potential growth for international investors.
Last, but not least, China’s exceptional cultural heritage significantly contributed to the rise of the Chinese language.
Growth of Hindi: Hindi has definitely earned its spot on our list! Hindi’s popularity in the decade leading to 2021 has increased more than that of Mandarin Chinese. The number of Hindi speakers has increased 11% while there was only a 7% increase for Chinese.
The number of Hindi speakers: A total of 1.1 billion in the world speak Hindi and nearly 640 million of them are L2 speakers.
Where is Hindi spoken? Hindi is an official language in India and a recognized minority language in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. For a period of 50 years, the percentage of Hindi speakers has increased significantly and in 2011 it reached 44%.
Today over 50% of the Indian population speak Hindi. This, in turn, has led to many parents teaching their children Hindi instead of their local dialects.
Growth of Indonesian: Bahasa Indonesian is yet another surprise on our list. With a growth rate of 79% over the past half a century, it’s second only to Urdu.
The number of Indonesian speakers: There are over 199 million Indonesian speakers in the world. The rapid increase in the number of Indonesian speakers is mainly due to the establishment of the official status of the language in Indonesia.
Where is Indonesian spoken? Although it has no official status, there are huge Indonesian-speaking communities in India, South Africa and the Middle East.
Why Indonesian is so popular? Indonesian, known for being the easiest Asian language! Many believe it is fairly easy to learn due to its stringboard structure. For instance, verbs have no tenses while nouns need no articles and have no gender. What’s more, it uses the Latin script which is a great advantage compared to the ambiguous symbols of Mandarin Chinese, for instance.
The Indonesian language is the official language of the ASEAN and AFTA or the Free Trade Area of South Asia. What’s more, Indonesia, visited by 20 million tourists every year. Its majestic landscapes, fantastic beaches and volcanoes attract numerous tourists from all over the world.
Besides, an official language in Indonesia, it is widely spoken in Malaysia. There are over 160 million Internet users from both of these countries. Due to the huge number of internet users, the Indonesian language is a huge opportunity for any online business that wants to go global.
K-pop bands have taken over the world and as it seems the Korean language is about to do the same!
The number of Korean speakers: With over 77 million speakers Korean is yet to conquer the world. It is the 7th most studied language on the Duolingo app.
But how did this language come to be so popular?
In recent years, Korean culture has become hugely influential in the US, Europe and Canada. People from all over the world follow K-pop bands on social media, listen to their songs. Korean drama has also gained numerous fans. The world hasn’t stopped talking about Squid Games in weeks and it won’t any time soon!
This has given an incredible boost to the Korean economy. A technological leader, Korea currently has a massive entertainment industry, producing content for the whole world.
Growth of French: According to Ethnologue French is the fifth most commonly spoken language in the world. If it continues to grow at the same pace until 2050 experts have estimated there will be 750 million French speakers in the world.
The number of French speakers: Today there are a total of 277 million speakers in the world and only 76 million of them are native speakers of French.
Where is French spoken? French is the official language in 29 countries in Europe, Africa and North America. What’s more, it is among the official languages of the European Union and the United Nations.
This is the second most widely spoken language in Europe after German and the second most taught foreign language at European schools.
French speakers in Africa and Canada: Around 141 million French speakers live in sub-Saharan Africa which makes it the continent with the greatest French-speaking population. In Canada, on the other hand, French is one of the two official languages of the country with 9.5 million native speakers and 2 million L2 speakers.
Why is French so popular? French owes its growth to the fact that its importance to certain spheres such as diplomacy, journalism, jurisprudence and education.
It is often considered one of the languages of the future since it is the official language of Congo, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, and Chad, which are believed to be the fastest-growing countries in the world.
Spanish used to be the second most widely spoken language in the world after English, but it is now fourth after Chinese and Hindi has overthrown it.
The number of Spanish speakers: Nevertheless, Spanish remains among the fastest-growing languages in the world. Spoken in 110 countries and is spoken by over 540 million people.
Where Spanish is spoken? The Spanish language originated from Spain, but in a few decades has taken over the whole world. Today Spanish is spoken in the Americas and on the European continent. Over 22 million people around the world study Spanish.
The biggest Spanish speaking community in Mexico, followed by the US (although Spanish is not an official language there), Colombia and Spain. There are huge Spanish-speaking communities in former Spanish colonies such as Nigeria and the Philippines.
Also Read: An Introduction to Universal Spanish
What’s more, Spanish is an official language of a number of organizations such as the European Union and the UN.
Why is Spanish so popular? The Spanish language is of huge importance to the field of humanities and social sciences which is why many people learn it. What’s more, due to its popularity and fairly easy grammar, many people take up Spanish as a hobby.
2. The fastest-growing languages in the US
The US has always been of great interest to linguists due to its diverse linguistic landscape. The country has no official language and American English remains only a de facto national language.
While English is the main language of command today, this may not be the case in the decades to come.
The American population is so diverse that soon English might lose its influence. Indeed, the fastest-growing languages in the US are rather different from the fastest growing languages in the world.
Telugu, a Dravidian vernacular spoken by the Telugu people in the northern parts of India, is proclaimed as the fastest growing language in the US. Between 2010 and 2017 the number of Telugu speakers in the US has increased by 86%.
Another Indian language is the second-fastest-growing language in the US and namely, Hindi, followed by Arabic.
Also Read: Top 5 Indian Languages Spoken In the USA
Spanish is also among the fastest-growing languages in the US. In fact, Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after English in the US with 53 million Hispanic people living in the US which is 17% of the American population.
What’s more, the Hispanic and Latino population in the US is “the second fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States after Asian Americans”.
3. Why is the growth rate relevant to the global market?
Reading about the fastest growing languages in the world and the US, you might be wondering how is this relevant to the global market?
In fact, the pace with which languages grow or shrink, closely linked to business growth. Understanding which languages expand and why will help you build an effective strategy for your business.
You cannot rely entirely on the fact that English, the most spoken language in the world. Only 25% of the world population is fluent in English, so there is a huge opportunity for non-English speaking buyers.
This, in turn, renders translation and localization services a must in order to take advantage of all the benefits that globalization can offer you.
Adapting your content and products to a specific target locale and audience will help you reach more customers, thus, making more sales in the short and long term.
The world is changing fast and if you want to succeed you have to keep up! This means that if you want your business to grow you have to closely follow the trends and adapt.
The same holds true in relation to the fastest growing languages in the world. Having a good understanding of how languages expand, can help you devise an effective strategy for reaching new markets and maximizing your business potential!