List a Dozen Languages We Should All Speak

List a Dozen Languages We Should All Speak
There was once a time, I thought it would be fun to be a linguist.

My inspiration was the late Eartha Kitt (1927 – 2008), an African-American multi-talented entertainer, who was fluent in several languages. Seemed like the coolest skill to have! Not only that but I could probably get a job working as an interpreter for the United Nations.

Alas! It never happened. C'est la vie! as the French would say.

Even though I never acquired the skill to speak several languages, it was very easy to prepare a list of a dozen languages that I thought would be good to know.

My inspiration for coming up with a list was an infographic published by Earth Porm which showed the world's most spoken languages.

Fascinating facts extracted from the Earth Porm article:

Around the world there are a total of 7,102 known languages, of this gargantuan amount twenty-three remain popular enough to be considered the most spoken languages of the world.

Chinese is the most widely used language, but English remains the number of languages currently being learned with 1,500 million English learners. French is the second most widely learned language with 82 million learners. Chinese is the third most popularly learned language with 30 million learners.

I decided on a dozen or twelve (12) languages (list below) that should be learned by anyone who wanted to open doors and communicate with almost everybody in the world.

My choices are not totally arbitrary. There were certain experiences or events in my life that made me add them to my list.

  • Although English is the official language in the USA, lots of people also speak Spanish and French.
  • I became interested in Latin because many English words are derived from this dead language.
  • Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic were chosen because I study the Bible.
  • Arabic? Just picked a language I thought one should know to communicate with people from the Middle East.
  • Hindi? I watch a lot of Indian or Bollywood movies. Sometimes I can't find the ones that I want to watch with English subtitles.
  • Russian. My brother once told me that the United Nations always needs people who can speak this language.
  • Chinese? Figured it would make me seem smart and would impress a lot of people!
  • Swahili? When I attended university during the 1970s, lots of African-American students were learning to speak this language. Guess it was an effort to go back “our roots”.

  • Do you agree or disagree with the list?

  • If you disagree, what languages do you think everybody in the world should know?
  1. English
  2. Spanish
  3. French
  4. Latin
  5. Hebrew
  6. Greek
  7. Aramaic
  8. Arabic
  9. Hindi
  10. Russian
  11. Chinese
  12. Swahili

See The World's Most Spoken Languages In One Eye-Opening Infographic. Earth Porm, 20 June 2015, .

Language Map



I do agree with most of them.

I think that English should be learned for atleast 10 years from grade one if you want to at least live in the modern society. Second would go for the language of your home country. Now, third should go to Chinese because in the next 15 years China would be the biggest superpower in the world. Then One should know Arabic as it's a major thing if you want to get yourself around in Middle East. Then I think French, German and anyone of the Scandinavian languages should be important. I believe go with Swedish because its similar to Norwegian and Finnish. At the end go for URDU and HINDI to understand the Bollywood movies and great songs from Pakistan.
Posted by muaaz.93 on 02-05-2018
Good rationale! This is what I was looking for. I never even thought about the Scandinavian languages. I should have remembered to include URDU because one time there was a poem or quote being circulated on Facebook. I tried to put it in the Google translator and it wouldn't translate! (O.o) So I asked the person sharing the content. They told me it was URDU and translated it for me into English. I felt so ignorant. I didn't even know there was a language called URDU.

A lot.

I think that people should know languages that are spoken by a vast majority of people such as : English, Spanish and different asian languages that would benefit them greatly. Of course, people shouldn't only focus on the languages that are spoken by as many people as possible, but they would most likely be of greater benefit.
Posted by manmad on 02-03-2018

I want to learn more languages!

It is my dream to speak as many languages as I can. I got some inspiration to our country hero. He knows a lot of languages and he can fluently speak all of it. Just how amazing is that? I want to learn Japanese, Korean, Spanish and French languages. This is my top 4 languages I want to learn and speak it fluently. I know it is hard to learn other language but I want to go outside my comfort zone. This is gonna be fun!
Posted by blank629 on 02-06-2018
If for no other reason than to be able to watch all the good movies and TV series that I'm missing out on, I would like to learn more languages. Now that we have the Internet we can find lots of foreign entertainment. But it is a treasure hunt to find foreign programs with English subtitles. My husband will sometimes watch a movie even if he can't find the video with English subtitles. Even though he can't understand all the words, he understands enough to get what's going on. He says American shows are boring. LOL.

As a matter of fact, if you want to learn a new language try to watch programs or listen to music. It is a quick way to pick up words and common expressions.


Yes languages are important and must be learned for quick understanding of them
Posted by hello2018 on 02-03-2018



An investment that isn't always worth the effort.

I'd say the number of foreign languages that you learn, or whether you choose to learn any at all are dependent on your needs and goals.

If you only wish to have basic interactions (for business or travel), I don't think that this is a bad list at all (save for Latin, it isn't terribly useful as a means of communicating with others). Fairly doable if you wanted travel to many of these places and get around. Beyond that, and the number of languages would have to drop if you had a need for more complex interactions.

As far as jobs are concerned, some positions might require you to have a greater facility of an alternate language, requiring additional study at the expense of maintaining or improving your other languages. Regarding personal reasons, some might not find it satisfactory to speak a dozen languages at a basic level. If your goal is to form strong bonds with natives as a foreigner, you have to prioritize one over the other, there is not enough time to learn them all. There is a lot of culture you'd miss out on by not having enough proficiency.

Of course, there's always the fact that not everyone would be able to appreciate the efforts of learning another language. Whether it's due to the fact that they don't travel or that they wouldn't have a place to use it.

Posted by quiet on 02-16-2018
I suppose those handheld electronic translators that people can carry with them everywhere makes it easy to learn any language on an “as needed” basis. Let's hope the translators get the translations right though. published an interesting article about “mistranslations” that changed the world.

Just Two will Do

For me having a native tongue and second or third or fourth language is feasible. More than four languages can be quite chaotic and probably you'll just get the words all mixed up.

I speak and write 3 languages, English, Filipino and Spanish. I tried learning French and Japanese but I never got the time to master or improve on it, after a decade, I forgot 99? of the French and 70? of the Japanese words I knew then.

Years of constant practice in both speaking and writing is needed for a person to fully understand and master a certain language. And time is what we really don't have nowadays.

Posted by Kakashi2020 on 02-12-2018
We have 7 continents. North America, South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia (Oceania), Europe, and Asia. When it comes to languages, I don't count Antarctica. Frankly, I think people who can fluently speak more than 5 languages which don't have a common root are "gifted".
JB Fernandez


I'd rather speak in English than to learn Chinese. Honestly, I really don't like the behavior and attitude of Chinese people. They are inconsiderate and selfish. They don't know how to fall in line and abide simple rules. They are also rude and boastful. I prefer studying Nihonggo or Japanese language instead.
Posted by JB Fernandez on 04-01-2018

I have lived overseas for 5 years and I don't thin

I've lived in a foreign country for 5 years where I can speak the basics of the language here but not really converse in full sentences. And you know what - it's easy enough to get by. Most people here know enough English, and otherwise there are options like Google Translate!
Posted by amelia88 on 08-17-2018

If one can manage, then go

But learning an additional 11 languuages other than your mother tongue is a tall order. I, myself, apart from my first language, know 3 dialects spoken in my country. English is my second language, and my Spanish is pretty decent. I know a little Chinese, Japanese and Korean, well enough to understand a local helping a tourist with directions and such. I agree with your list mostly, but I also want to add Japanese, Russian, and German.
Posted by sonnyisabeast on 10-31-2018


I agree with your list. You picked some of the most well-known languages.

I kind of want to learn Latin as well. It's a really powerful language especially, because it's used in prayers dating back to the early years of Catholicism. I know that faith is not solely dependent on the words we speak, but I found that the original written and spoken language has a special place in the people's hearts. And so I hope one day I can learn to speak it well.
Posted by Steve5 on 02-02-2018
I don't agree with the list. I think everyone should learn English or the language that has the most people in the world plus their own language. In this case I think the biggest country in the world is China. It has over a billion people. Everybody should be learning Chinese plus their own language. I don't understand why we have to learn English, Spanish or Arabic. I think it's just snobbery of the Chinese language. If you live in the Congo for example how does learning English help? When majority of foreigners are Chinese?
Posted by jaymish on 02-02-2018
Isn't it a bit unreasonable to expect people to understand 12 languages? While it certainly would be amazing, I'm fairly certain that it isn't possible for the general population to fluently speak 12 different languages. A huge chunk of people barely put effort into properly writing/speaking in their native tongue, let alone foreign ones. Not only do I feel that it is impossible, but absolutely unnecessary as well. In a utopian society, we all speak one common language. However since we're nowhere near utopian status, I'll settle for four: English, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic.
Posted by Denis_P on 02-03-2018
I agree. I also think it is a bit unreasonable to understand those lists of languages mentioned above. I think it is impossible for average people like me. Though I'm not totally against with the purpose of this topic.
Posted by mitan143 on 11-04-2018
I had the same inspiration too, to learn, understand and be able to write in many languages but it hasn't been easy to acquire this but I think it really a good thing to be able to understand at least 3-4 languages of the world especially the most people one like English,French , german and will foster cooperation and really easy communication with foreigners.I'm still learning french and I hope to do better this year.
Posted by lovely on 02-03-2018
It's really a big dream that you had back then, and in as much as you're unable to accomplish them till now doesn't mean no one can do it. I have always had that mindset that we need to learn series of languages for that is the only way that we can get better at interacting with people from the other parts of the world. Also, in as much as I can't make a full list of the languages that I would want to learn, I've always have the zeal to study German which will aid the English language that I speak now for it is going to assist me when I get work in one of those foreign countries that speak German, later in life.
Posted by Barida on 02-03-2018
The most important is English.French is optional. It strongly depends on what country are we in.For example,if you plan to stay in Sweden,you will have to learn a bit of Sweden.Few basic words to maintain a formal conversation. But,like I said,the balance is on English.
Posted by DenisHero on 02-03-2018
In my home country Nepal, there are 92 communities speaking 102 languages and direct. Our national language Nepali is spoken by 24 million people living in the country, and an equivalent number of people in India belonging to Nepali descent. There are over 5 million people using Nepal. Here is my list Nepali, English, Hindi, Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, and Arabic.
Posted by vinaya on 02-03-2018
Everyone wants to learn english so english for me is the widely-sought after language and good thing the english subject is already in our curriculum ever since kindergarten. I would love to learn many languages but I would only choose something necessary for me to learn given a specific situation.
Posted by Scarlet on 02-04-2018
Two languages that I am actually fluent in are English and French. I am currently learning Spanish. I never knew that the Chinese language is so popular. I am always eager to learn new languages as this will help me to better interact with those from other countries. Nowadays the majority of people are eager to learn English and maybe in the future, this will be the national language in most countries.
Posted by Pixie on 02-05-2018
It would be hard to learn that many languages. I think that in addition to English or Spanish..people should be able to speak their native language well, and that should be enough for most people to speak. This is one of the options that you need.
Posted by kgord on 02-05-2018
The languages listed above are right on target as the most popular languages to learn. Those that are gifted in learning languages easily will have an advantage to communicate with most people of the world.
Posted by babyright on 02-05-2018
I think you have put together a good list of languages. I agree with your choices. If a person were to speak all those languages they woukd be able to travel anywhere in the world and have no problems communicating with the people there. Learning many languages opens up many opportunites both in travel and work.
Posted by Sue on 02-05-2018
I agree with most of the languages on the list but I would replace some with Japanese, German, and Italian. Japanese, German, and Italian languages are important because they are spoken in countries belonging to the top 10 economies. Learning them can present better business and job opportunities. English is a must, of course, because it is the lingua franca of the world. I wouldn't be in this forum if I didn't speak English. I wouldn't have access to the many lucrative opportunities presented by the internet if I didn't know English that well.
Posted by chatbox on 02-05-2018
If we all have to learn 12 languages, my list would like like this English, Mandarin, Japanese, German, France, Hindi: These 6 languages are spoken in the top economic countries and while it shouldn't be the sole metric, a stronger economy also has a stronger foothold in global conversations like this. While Mandarin is very difficult to learn and speak/write properly, it is also the most widely used (due to China's population) which gives it more importance in the list of languages to learn. Spanish/Portuguese - these languages are pretty popular in South America, and a good portion of Europeans and Americans, as well as their former colonies in Asia can speak it as well. French, Latin, Hebrew, Greek - languages that have been used historically by the previous great empires of the world. Swahili - most used language in Africa
Posted by treecko142 on 02-08-2018
Maybe twelve languages would be too much for some people and making it mandatory would affect other education. The native language of the country should, of course, be taught as number one with the neighbouring land to the country being taught as a second language. Furthermore, I think it should be explained in schools the advantages of employment for bilinguists. When the children choose their subjects if languages are one of them then let them choose multiple languages that they want to speak.
Posted by JMS on 02-09-2018
Who can learn so many languages? If they do a major portion of their learning years will be spent in languages only where can they find the time to learn other things?

Posted by Anonymous on 02-11-2018
In my opinion the languages are:

English Spanish French Russian Chinese Portuguese
Posted by hermessantos on 02-11-2018
I think that when we discuss 'languages' we shouldn't stick only by the verbal ones. While I agree with your list to a certain point, I feel that if we open our mind a little bit more to other forms of communication, the world might be a more inclusive place.

That said, my list would be as follows, in random order.

1) English 2) Spanish 3) Mandarin 4) Sign Language (I wish we would have a universal one, but that's a discussion for some other day...) 5) French 6) Russian 7) Swahili 8) Japanese 9) Hindi 10) Greek 11) Latin 12) Esperanto (I still dream of a universal language... Let me be.)
Posted by VintageRose on 02-17-2018
I think English, Spanish, and Russian is enough. It's very complicated to study more languages if you not going to use it. and right now, there's a google translation, it's easy to communicate with other languages if we need it. Although we need to study the language if we have a plan to travel on their country. But I think the English or universal language is enough to understand each others.
Posted by ion on 02-21-2018
I think you can't learn all those languages listed above. Its too much and I think the capacity of our brain can't fit all of them (I think). It requires a lot of time before you can able to speak one language. if one language requires a lot time then how much more if your planning to learn eleven more. I think four to five languages are enough.
Posted by nekonieden on 03-14-2018
In my home country, we speak Arabic and Berber -varying in accents- and we also speak French. I can speak Turkish too. I think learning languages is a must in order to communicate with different people around the world. You've chosen the most popular languages but I think 5 languages is enough. To be able to speak 11 languages requires a lot of effort and dedication and I don't think everyone's got the time for that.
Posted by clairmatin on 07-01-2018
Maybe in an ideal world, everybody would learn those languages that you've listed above but in reality, that's not possible. We all have our lives where we have to either go to work, take care of the children or something else... it's just not possible to dedicate that much of our time and energy to learning those languages. The majority wouldn't even benefit from half of them.
Posted by Mehano on 07-01-2018
Yes that's way too much to learned but I guess it benefit too especially if you really want to visit and travel to their country its a must to learn it so you can communicate with them. I guess 3 languages are worth enough to learn. And I've read about this gadget that you communicate to any dialect, just need to speak about your question then the gadget will translate it for you so the other person from different country will understand what your question is all about.
Posted by romy_ter on 09-30-2018
Yes that's way too much to learned but I guess it benefit too especially if you really want to visit and travel to their country its a must to learn it so you can communicate with them. I guess 3 languages are worth enough to learn. And I've read about this gadget that you communicate to any dialect, just need to speak about your question then the gadget will translate it for you so the other person from different country will understand what your question is all about.
Posted by romy_ter on 09-30-2018
I think language is one of the most important parts of communication. one must know at least two to three additional language to be able to get maximum advantage in the world. I agree with all the languages that you have mentioned in your post. english is the most important of them all as it is a universal language which is known to most of the people all around the world. even though I agree with your list, I think there must be some correction in the sequence of the list. Chinese and Hindi must be brought up to the second and third places because almost half the population of the world speak these two languages and both China and India is making rapid economic progress and can't any longer be ignored.
Posted by jpk0007 on 10-19-2018
Even it is a nice idea that we should study those languages, but for me studying 10 languages is a bit hard. I think only gifted person with an incredible mind can do that. But I appreciate the points of this topic because it will help us in many ways. I wish I could at least master one foreign language, well except English, and my prefer language is either Korean or Japanese. In short, I want to study first Asian-based languages.
Posted by mitan143 on 11-04-2018
My ideal list would be English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, French, Arabic. All of these are required in the present world, as they are spoken by a vast amount of the planet's population.
Posted by mcnasci24 on 11-11-2018
I think that i will agree with most of the languages mentioned in your list. English id definitely a global language and one has to learn English these days if the person want to be succesfull in any kind of profession. Other than English the other two major languages that are spoken by the majority of people in the World are Chinese and Hindi. Well one has to learn maximum languages as it can be very helpful if he travels around the World for work or business.
Posted by jpk0007 on 12-06-2018
I guess we have to settle for just 1 or 2 languages at the most and it can be the lingua franca or the de facto language of the world’s population. I remember one language called Esperanto that was invented by a certain Doctor Zamenhoff. It was written into a book for everyone to learn. But since there were no speakers of that language hence it did not prosper and is now forgotten.
Posted by Corzhens on 12-14-2018