These foreign languages ​​are learned by people all over the world

Learning a foreign language is a popular New Year’s resolution. The 2021 Duolingo Language Report reveals the latest language trends and insights into how people learn, based on data from more than 500 million Duolingo learners around the world.

For learners around the world, 2021 does not mean a return to the normality they have envisioned since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it’s no surprise that the most popular phrase on Duolingo in 2021 is “I’m mentally exhausted” It was. Forced arrests, delayed plans to return to the office, and ever-changing public health policies persisted in much of the world.

For millions of people, language learning has been a ray of hope. In 2020, the Duolingo Language Report saw a record increase in new learners starting to learn a language during the pandemic, whether to keep up with schoolwork or to connect with people around the world.

Asian languages ​​on the rise

In 2021, more and more people are learning Asian languages ​​- especially Japanese and Korean – using Duolingo. According to Duolingo language experts, this is also due to the growing interest in Asian entertainment programmes.

Japanese has now overtaken Italian worldwide to become the fifth most popular language to learn. It is also the fastest growing language in the United States and the United Kingdom. Korean is the seventh most popular language to learn worldwide and is the fastest growing language in Brazil, France, Germany, India and Mexico. It is also the second fastest growing language in Japan.

More and more people around the world want to learn Chinese

Chinese ranked as the 10th most popular foreign language to learn in 2020, but it has now overtaken Russian and Portuguese to be ranked 8th in the world. It is also one of the five fastest growing languages ​​in Mexico and Brazil.

Asian foreign languages ​​are currently popular all over the world (Graphic: Duolingo)

With more and more learners learning foreign languages ​​for personal, cultural and recreational reasons, today not only the classics of English, German, Spanish and French are learned, but also languages ​​such as Finnish, Guaraní and Swahili. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, learners don’t think much about languages ​​on the go and instead learn more for cultural reasons that have more to do with their personal situation. In the United States and France, for example, family ties have already become one of the main drivers when it comes to initiating learning.

world language facts

Incidentally, the top 10 most learned languages ​​worldwide (in that order) are English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, and Portuguese.

The most popular foreign languages ​​around the world

The languages ​​ranked second in each country are also becoming more diverse: this year, the list of old favorites such as French, Spanish and German were joined by two newcomers: Finnish and Guaraní. Finnish is now the second most popular language in Finland, and Guarani, a language indigenous from South America, is now the second most popular language in Paraguay, as it is an official language.

While school, family and friends are the main reasons for learning Finnish and Guaraní, the second most common reason for learning the language shows some differences between these groups. Educated Finnish people in Finland learn more for work, which may mean that they are more likely to be non-Finnish people working in Finland. Guaraní learners in Paraguay tend to be more culturally stimulated (perhaps around 20 percent of Paraguayans who do not yet speak Guaraní, or non-Paraguayans who now live in Paraguay).

Germans are among the most diligent foreign language learners

In 2021, the most diligent Duolingo learners came from the following countries (in that order): the Czech Republic, Japan, Belarus, Germany, and Hungary. These are the countries where learners do the most learning units.

In Australia, French is the most common language and people in South Africa prefer to learn Spanish. The British are increasingly learning the Welsh language. Fun fact: There are now more Korean learners in Mongolia than there are English learners.

Why do Germans learn foreign languages?

No matter what language you’re learning or why you’re learning it, becoming a confident and proficient user of the language takes perseverance! The most hard-working countries in the world complete the most lessons for each learner, and this year Germany betrayed Japan to their country with the hardest-working learners. Germans primarily learn a foreign language for school and for travel, as seen in the Duolingo drawing. More than one in ten does so to improve their employment prospects.

About Duolingo Language Report 2021

The 2021 Duolingo Language Report presents the latest trends in language and learner behavior, based on data from more than 500 million Duolingo learners around the world. Duolingo claims to be the most downloaded educational app in the world and offers over 100 courses in 40 languages ​​- all for free. The data provides unique insights into which languages ​​learners around the world want to learn and how their interests change over time and geography.

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