Want to know what the top trending languages for the coming year are and why? ISI Language Solutions scoured several websites listing language trends across multiple industries and identified the top trending & suggested languages to learn in 2021. Check out our list below!
Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin and certainly not a surprise at the top of languages to learn.
Native Speakers Worldwide: 405 million
Top Reasons for Ranking: Having your content available in Spanish opens doors in Spain, Latin American countries like Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and Ecuador, and even the United States, where an estimated 37.6 million people speak it as their first language. With the world’s second-largest economy and a Hispanic population projected to double by 2050, this makes Spanish enormously important.
Difficulty to Learn: Language experts rank Spanish as one of the easiest languages to learn for English learners.
Germany has the highest GDP in Europe, and many are flocking to the country seeking new careers.
Native Speakers Worldwide: 210 million (95 million in Germany)
Top Reasons for Ranking: German is one of the three official languages of the European Union and it is expected to benefit from Brexit (alongside French). German is the fourth most used language online. As the world’s third largest contributor to research and development, knowing German can be key to succeeding in these fields globally. According to The Economist, knowing how to speak German will offer the highest reward in bonuses compared to learning how to speak Spanish or French. German companies account for 700,000 jobs in the United States, which presents great opportunities for those looking for opportunities in America.
Difficulty to Learn: It’s a funny language to learn, with endings tacked on to words to give them specific meanings. But it is also a surprisingly easy language to learn.
Arabic is the 5th most spoken language in the world, including many dynamic, growing economies in the Middle East and Africa.
Number of Speakers Worldwide: 300 million
Top Reasons for Ranking: Arabic is the official language of dozens of different countries. Arabic countries hold over $600 billion in GDP and the Middle Eastern economy has increased by over 120% in the past five years. Internet access and usage is rising in the Middle East. With many users only speaking Arabic, translation of online content is expected to rise in the coming years. The World Cup will be hosted by Qatar in 2022 and will attract many visitors. While regional instability is still a concern, it only adds to the demand for content in Arabic to aid in intelligence and diplomacy.
Difficulty to Learn: This is known to be one of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.
With over one billion Mandarin Chinese speakers in the world, of course it’s on the list of the most important languages to learn in 2020.
Number of Speakers Worldwide: 1 billion plus
Top Reasons for Ranking: While most speakers are located in China, the country is emerging as a global power, making it increasingly more important for businesses to have team members that know Chinese. The number of multinational companies that are looking for executives who speak Mandarin has risen by 35% from previous years. Mandarin is also the second most popular language among Internet users, and with sales of $714.58 billion, the country was the world’s leading e-commerce market in 2019. Should key Asian markets continue to expand their Internet usage, Chinese could be expected to supplant English as the most widely used Internet language in the near future.
Difficulty to Learn: It’s not the easiest language for English speakers to learn, but the upside is worth the effort.
Portuguese is spoken all over the world — it is the official language of countries in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa. If that wasn’t enough to prove that this language is one of the most important languages to learn, here’s more: Brazil is emerging as one of the world’s newest economic powerhouses.
Number of Speakers Worldwide: 230 million
Top Reasons for Ranking: Portuguese is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world and the second most spoken language in Latin America (behind Spanish). According to estimates by UNESCO, Portuguese is the fastest-growing European language after English. Portuguese is well ahead of German, French and Italian in popularity and is the official language of eight countries. Due to the growing relationship between India and Brazil, the demand for Portuguese language is growing exponentially. There’s increased demand in areas like technology, technical support, finance, exports, tourism and education. Brazil offers global companies opportunities in the areas of tourism, pharmaceuticals and energy to name a few. As organizations continue to set up shop in Brazil, there will be new opportunities for Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is also gaining popularity in Asia due to the region’s diplomatic and economic relations with Portugal and Lusophone countries.
Difficulty to Learn: Portuguese is not too hard for a native English speaker to learn. While different from English, the grammar and sentence structure are simpler. The accent has more in common with American English than Spanish and it isn’t difficult to pick up new sounds like nasal vowels.
The size of the country, its emerging economy and its natural resources, (it is the top oil producer in the world) readily demonstrate its appeal for business. Moreover, Moscow has the highest billionaire population of any city in the world.
Number of Speakers Worldwide: 300 million
Top Reasons for Ranking: Spoken throughout central and Eastern Europe and in Russia, it’s the eighth most common language in the world. It is the second most used in website content, after English and the leading percentage of internet content in Europe. The English Proficiency Index rates Russia as a country with low proficiency in English, so translating your content into Russian could be an important step for meeting international business goals. As one of the BRIC countries, Russia has been identified as one of the four major world powers whose influence is growing fast. It is already the world’s sixth largest economy. Russian is also one of the official languages of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which makes it significant to international relations, diplomacy and trade. Finally, Russia is famous for its engineering talent and IT community, and Russian is one of the popular languages of scientific and technical literature in the hard sciences like physics and engineering.
Difficulty to Learn: Russian is widely believed to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. The grammar rules are very complex and have numerous exceptions.
As the second-most widely spoken language in Europe, usage of French is expected to increase post-Brexit. It’s usage around the world – particularly in emerging markets — makes it an important language to learn.
Number of Speakers Worldwide: 80 million (153 million non-native)
Top Reasons for Ranking: France’s colonial history played a big part in making French the second-most widely spoken language in Europe. Because of this history, more people speak this language outside France than in it. According to Forbes, there will be 750 million French speakers in the world by 2050. Online, it’s estimated to have around 102 million Internet surfers. The French-speaking world also includes Africa, which is growing rapidly and rich in natural resources. Of the top five fastest-growing African economies, French is an official language in three of them. In countries like Algeria, Morocco, Vietnam and Cambodia, where there is a low level of proficiency in English, French is particularly useful as a lingua franca. Learning French can also be useful for employment in the global tourism industry, fashion, the visual arts and theater world, as French is the most spoken language in these sectors.
Difficulty to Learn: French is not hard to learn for English speakers. English and French share a common alphabet and a large portion of vocabulary. In fact, English has more in common lexically with French than any other Romance language.
In short, no matter what language you choose to learn in the coming year, know that it will be time well spent on our top 7 languages to learn in 2021.
“You live a new life for every language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.” – Chinese proverb
Written by Lynda Walz, Sales Executive