Worldly Translations

Spanish is already the second most spoken language in the world

While English continues to occupy its historic place as the universal language, Spanish is already the second most widely spoken language in the world. This was revealed in the latest Yearbook “Spanish in the world”, published by the authorities of the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid. Year after year, this report updates the main data on the Spanish language and its culture in the world.
The Yearbook is the result of research carried out by specialists and academics related to the international promotion and teaching of Spanish as a foreign language. Therefore, its conclusions are essential in order to understand what is the international relevance of the Spanish language and how it is making its way among speakers.

What data makes it the second most spoken language in the world?

According to the results shared by the Cervantes Institute, 585 million people – 7.6% of the world’s population – currently speak Spanish in the world. This means five million more than in 2019; a data that confirms its evolution in the last decade, in which the number of speakers grew by more than 30%.
Likewise, more than 22 million people choose to study Spanish as a foreign language, 60% more than in 2010. Of the total number of students, the European Union, Brazil and the United States account for 90%. An interesting fact is that the predominant profile of the student of this language are women, over 30 years old and interested in its culture.
But in addition, Spanish also consolidated itself as the second mother tongue of the world by number of speakers, ranking only behind Mandarin Chinese. Of the total number of people who speak Spanish (585 million), almost 489 million are native Spanish speakers; that is, 6 million more than in 2019.
Another relevant fact is that Spanish is also the third most used language on the Internet, 7.9% of users communicate in this language. In this sense, Spanish is also the second language in the publication of scientific texts, only behind English. Likewise, this language is the third most used in the United Nations and the fourth in the European Union, where Brexit helped its predominance. However, the increase in the use of English in international organizations seems to reduce the role of Spanish and the other official languages.

Spanish in numbers

  • 585 million people – 7.6% of the world’s population – speak Spanish.
  • The number of Spanish speakers increased by 30% between 2010 and 2020.
  • 22 million people study Spanish as a foreign language.
  • The number of Spanish students increased by 60% between 2010 and 2020.
  • 489 million people are native Spanish speakers.
  • 7.9% of Internet users communicate online in Spanish.

What is the situation of the Spanish language in the United States

The Cervantes Institute Yearbook also analyses the situation of Spanish in the United States. There, more than 62 million Americans (18.7% of the total population) are of Hispanic origin. Of these, 71% use Spanish in the family environment and 94% identify themselves as Hispanic. In this country, Spanish is also the most studied language at all levels of education.
By 2060, it is estimated that the United States will be the second Spanish-speaking country in the world, behind Mexico, and that 27.5% of its population will be of Hispanic origin.

What is the economic weight of the Spanish language?

The Instituto Cervantes report also makes revelations regarding the economic importance of the Spanish language. This Yearbook reflects that the world’s speakers of this language have a joint purchasing power of around 9% of the world’s GDP.
In countries where Spanish is the official language, almost 7% of world’s GDP is generated. But also, this is the second most relevant language in the language tourism sector.

We hope you have enjoyed learning about why Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world and what is its current importance internationally. Until next time!