How many languages are there?


Lots of kids grow up in homes where more than one language is spoken! Sometimes, this is because one parent (or even both parents) grew up in a different country or with a different language! Maybe you know some kids or neighbors who speak some different languages, too. There seem to be a lot of them!

There are about 6,000 different languages that exist in the different countries all over the world! Some of these languages are only spoken among small groups of people, and only about 2,000 are thought to have systems for writing the others only exist among speaking!

The most commonly spoken language of them all is Mandarin Chinese, which is spoken by almost one billion people -- wow!! The next most common languages are English and Hindi, which are each spoken by about half as many people as Mandarin Chinese.


Language Lessons

Do you or some of the people in your family speak more than one language? If so, what are those languages? What other languages are spoken by people who you know?

Have you ever traveled to a country like France or Spain where almost everyone speaks a different language than you? What was that like? And what were some things you did to communicate when you weren't able to use words? Some ideas can be waving to say "hello" or "goodbye," smiling to show that you like something, and rubbing your belly to indicate that you are hungry!


Anderson, Stephen R. How Many Languages Are There in the World? 2004. Linguistic Society of America.