Which countries speak Spanish as their first language?
I recently wrote an article about which language, out of Spanish and Mandarin, is best to learn? In the article I compared the number of countries that each language is spoken in – as opposed to simply the number of people that speak them and this comparison sparked some interest. Thinking about it a bit more, I realized that this information is rarely mentioned in the debate about which language is best to learn – and yet in many ways it is a more significant figure.
How many people speak Spanish?
In absolute terms, about 400 million people speak Spanish – the third most spoken language. This compares with Mandarin’s 1 billion speakers. But what happens when we compare where these languages are spoken?
Where is Spanish spoken?
When we look at how these languages are globally distributed, the more wide spread nature of Spanish emerges. Mandarin is highly concentrated, spoken as a first language in just two countries: China and Taiwan. Spanish, on the other hand, is much more wide spread, being spoken in 24 countries and has a strong representation on three continents: Europe, where it is spoken in Spain of course; South America where it is spoken in most countries; and, in North America where it is the second most spoken language of the USA (and is an official language).
It’s geographical distribution means that most people are more likely to come across Spanish more often than Mandarin and I would argue its wide distribution makes it a better language to learn. (That coupled with the fact that for English monolinguals at least, Spanish is a much, much easier language to learn than Mandarin).
Anyway here is the definitive list of countries that Spanish is spoken in as a first language:
Wow, that’s 21 countries! Some great holiday destinations too!
How many countries speak English as a first language?
English is the 1st language of 8 countries: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland and Republic of Ireland.
English scores more highly than Spanish, as an “official” language, as opposed to first language, with 55 countries and territories giving it official status. India for instance has the second most English speakers in the world after the USA.
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- Which is the best language to learn – Mandarin or Spanish? (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- The Best Language to Learn (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- The Top 7 Benefits of Learning a Language