Here we’ll take a trip to find out the most studied languages in the world. And yes, I said “studied“. While it’s good to know which languages are the most spoken throughout the world, this doesn’t truly show us which ones that lure the most people, or how we know which ones are taught worldwide. So read ahead as we unveil the big shots below.
This being said, to complete this article, I invite you to let us know which language/s you are learning at the end of the article in the comments section.
Last Updated: 15/06/2016
What are the most studied languages in the world?
There are tons of articles and studies that name the most spoken languages in the world. Even we’ve played our part by showing you the most spoken languages in the world and the runners up.
But what are the most studied languages?
Well, it’s hard to answer this question since so few people are interested in it. On the other hand, it’s easier to define the most spoken langues as opposed to the most studied languages. An Italian study* from 19 renowned universities has helped define this question. The results?
- English holds number one. Big surprise there, right?
If I only had one comment to make, I’d daresay that European languages have the upper hand. But when it comes down to it, their culture is the main reason people learn them around the world. Truly understanding a country’s culture happens through learning its language and reading its most famous authors (or even their greatest cookbooks).
And what are the most studied languages in America?
Of course when it comes to the United States, we aren’t known for our strong language learning skills. However, our schools offer plenty of opportunities (and even requirements in some states) for students to learn another language. Although most elementary students learn Spanish before anything else, middle, high school and university students can choose which language they learn. So what did they choose to learn?
Spanish is by far the most studied language is the United States, whether in high school or college. According to the Modern Language Association (MLA), the most studied languages in United States colleges and universities are**:
- Spanish is the most studied language in the US, with 50% of college students choosing to learn Spanish.
- French is next at just over 12%
- American Sign Language is studied by 7% of students
- German is studied by 5%
- Italian is next at just over 4%
- Chinese is at 3.9%
- Arabic is steadily growing, at 2.1% in 2013
- Latin, at 1.7%, is still taught in most US universities
- Russian was chosen by 1.4% percent of students
- Ancient Greek, at less than 1%, comes in last place, followed by Ancient Hebrew, Portuguese, Korean and Modern Hebrew, respectively
In primary and secondary schools , the results are more or less the same with one difference — most high schools in the United States do not offer Italian. Instead, Latin takes its place. Below are results for K-12***:
- Spanish: Whether it’s due to the students’ interest, their parents’ choice or the school’s offerings, Spanish is by far the most studied language in the US, with over 70% of K-12 students choosing this language
- French is next up, at 15%
- German at less than 5%
- Latin, surprisingly, finds itself next at 2%
- Japanese is next with less than 1%
- And Chinese is last. However, more and more schools are offering Chinese, so expect to see this number rise in the next few years.
And you: what language/s are you currently learning? (Thanks to MosaLingua or otherwise of course.)
*Source for worldwide figures: Italian, the fourth most studied language. 2014
**Source for US K-12: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2011
***Source for colleges: Modern Language Association. 2013