Mandarin Chinese Mandarin Chinese is the most widely-spoken first language in the world, boasting almost 900 million native speakers and over a billion speakers in total! Dating back thousands of years, the Chinese language reflects a rich history of cultural traditions and encompasses a vast diversity of people, places, and perspectives. The Chinese language itself is various, featuring many mutually unintelligible regional dialects and variations, although Mandarin has been adopted as a de facto standard.

Arabic The Arabic language has a rich artistic, religious and intellectual history that dates back thousands of years and encompasses a myriad of modern cultures and traditions throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Today, Arabic is spoken by nearly 300 million people and is an official language in over 20 different countries as well as the United Nations, playing a key role in global communications and international affairs. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) ties the Arabic-speaking world together as the literary written language of official communication, while each region features its own distinct dialect and cultural tradition.

Spanish With over 500 million native speakers, Spanish is the official language in 21 countries and the most spoken of the romance languages in the world. After Mexico, the U.S. has the second largest population of Spanish speakers and is continuously growing. As a result of the expansion of the Spanish empire during 16th and 17th centuries, Spanish became the official language in Latin America, the Caribbean, Equatorial Guinea, and part of Northern Africa. Influenced by Arabic, Spanish has a rich scholarly and artistic legacy, and is widely practiced in areas such as law, economics, business, education, and healthcare. With a broad range of vocabulary and regional nuances, Spanish plays a strategic role in geopolitics, global economy, and international affairs worldwide. In recent years, Spanish online usage has drastically increased, becoming the third most popular language after Mandarin and English on the internet.

French A majority of the world’s French-speaking population lives in Africa. According to the 2007 report by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, an estimated 115 million African people spread across 31 Francophone countries can speak French as either a first or a second language. This number does not include the people living in non-Francophone African countries who have learned French as a foreign language. Due to the rise of French in Africa, the total French-speaking population worldwide is expected to reach 700 million people in 2050. French is the fastest growing language on the continent (in terms of either official or foreign language). French is mostly a second language in Africa, but it has become a first language in some urban areas, such as the region of Abidjan, Ivory Coast and in Libreville, Gabon. There is not a single African French, but multiple forms that diverged through contact with various indigenous African languages. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where the French language is most likely to expand, because of the expansion of education and rapid population growth. It is also where the language has evolved the most in recent years. Some vernacular forms of French in Africa can be difficult to understand for French speakers from other countries, but written forms of the language are very closely related to those of the rest of the French-speaking world.

Russian is a Slavic language, written in Cyrillic, belongs to the group of Indo-European languages. Its roots can be traced back to 10th century Old East Slavonic. Russian is the most widely spoken Slavic language and the most geographically prevalent language of Eurasia. It is the most widespread native language in Europe, and the seventh most spoken language in the world. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is especially significant in the worlds of science, economics, politics, medicine, art, music, and literature. Some of the organizations that acknowledge Russian as an official language include the World Health Organization, UNESCO, and the International Olympic Committee. It is also one of two official languages of the International Space Station, with NASA astronauts studying the language when preparing to work alongside their Russian counterparts. Russian is also unique in that it is shared and used in day-to-day life by the over one hundred nationalities that reside in Russia and the former Soviet republics.