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The 10 Most Spoken Languages in Europe

Languages help connect with individuals and unite cultures. They carry history, tradition, and a strong background of information. Although not often talked about, the languages spoken in Europe are diverse and quite unique. That’s why September 26th is the official European Day of Languages (EDL).

The European Day of Languages (EDL)celebrates the linguistic heritage of European countries and advocates the importance of lifelong language learning. Although there are 225 indigenous languages spoken on this small continent, there are only 24 official languages recognized in the European Union. But what is the most common language in Europe? It’s hard to say! There are many languages and cultures celebrated throughout Europe, making it a vibrant and unique place. That’s why, to help showcase Europe's diversity, we have made a list of the 10 most spoken languages in Europe!

Top 10 Languages Spoken in Europe

Have you ever asked yourself, what is the most spoken language in Europe? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our list below on the most popular languages in Europe and see if your assumptions were right!

1. Russian

Russian kicks off our list as THE most spoken language in Europe with 120 million native speakers. This is actually quite interesting, as Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet while most other European languages use the Latin alphabet.

This can make it quite a challenge for Europeans wanting to learn Russian as a foreign language. Russian is also widely spoken in many eastern European countries. It is the official language of Russia, and one of the official languages in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus. Were you expecting Russian to be Europe’s most spoken language?


2. German

German comes in second, as it’s the primary language of approximately 13.3% Europeans or 100 million people. It is the official language of Germany and Liechtenstein, and is one of the official languages of Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. German is one of the three procedural languages of the European Union along with English and French. The German language is the most widely-understood language after the English language, as it’s a popular second or third language in many European countries.

3. French

Coming in third after Russian and German is French, with the number of native speakers at about 80 million. It is the official language of France, and also one of the official languages of Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. French’s global reach is most impressive as 29 countries claim it as an official language and about 45% of modern English words are of French origin. French is a primary language of many international organizations including the United Nations, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization. It’s definitely one of the most common languages in Europe. Want to practice your pronunciation? All you need to do is download Tandem today and match with a native speaker!

4. English

You had to be expecting this one to pop up somewhere on the list of most spoken languages Europe uses, right? English is the fourth most widely spoken language in Europe with approximately 70 million native English speakers. The number of English-speaking expats residing in Europe significantly adds to this figure. It is one of the official languages of Ireland, along with Irish, and is the de facto language of the United Kingdom. English is the most spoken second language in Europe followed by German and French.

5. Turkish

Turkish is the most spoken language in Europe after English. It’s the official language of Turkey with 70 million native Turkish speakers on the continent. Turkish is also widely spoken around the Mediterranean, particularly in Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and other parts of Europe and Central Asia. Turkish is classified as a member of the Ural-Altaic Linguistic Family, making it closely related to Finnish and Hungarian. Turkish used to be written with the Arabic alphabet up until 1928. However, it has since changed to the Latin alphabet to make it easier to learn and to increase literacy.


6. Italian

Coming in as the sixth most used language in Europe is Italian. Italian has more than 69 million speakers and 3% of European citizens are able to speak it as a second language. Italian is the official language of Italy (obviously), the Vatican City, Switzerland, San Marino, and a minority language in Croatia and Slovenia. It’s considered a Romance language under the Indo-European language family. Authentic elements of Italian culture are its art, music, and classic cuisine. Italy was the birthplace of opera and is also one of the leading countries in fashion design.

7. Spanish

Speaking of Romance languages, 45 million Europeans claim Spanish as their mother tongue. Not only is Spain one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations, but learning Spanish will also open up whole other continents to you. Spanish is the official language in 21 different countries and is the second-most spoken native language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese. Spanish also has lexical influences from Arabic with 8% of the Spanish dictionary originating from Arabic – the second-largest lexical influence on Spanish behind Latin.

8. Ukranian

The East Slavic language Ukrainian has 45 million native speakers, with the majority residing in Europe. It is the official language of Ukraine and one of the official languages in Romania and Russia. Similar to Russian, written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic script. Though Russian and Ukrainian come from the same roots of Old East Slavic, the Ukrainian language is actually more similar to Belarusian, Czech, Slovakian and Polish languages. Still, it’s one of the most spoken European languages.

9. Polish

40 million people of the European population are native Polish speakers. The Polish language belongs to the West Slavic group of the Indo-European language family and is greatly influenced by Germanic languages, predominantly German, and Italic languages such as Latin and French. Polish is centered almost entirely around Poland, where it’s the official language. However, sizable Polish minorities exist in the Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, and Slovakia.


10. Romanian

Romanian takes the last spot on our list, narrowly outranking Dutch. The Romanian language is an Eastern Romance language spoken by approximately 23 million people as a native language in Europe. Romanian is primarily spoken in Romania, Moldova, and Transnistria. If you like gothic architecture and castles, the cities of Transylvania are the places for you. If the great outdoors is more your thing, then the Bucegi Mountains and Bigar Waterfall are a couple of places that are worth seeing in Romania.

Were you surprised to learn the most popular language in Europe? Have we sparked your curiosity for learning in the process? Luckily, you can learn more about Europe’s unique languages and the cultures they’re part of by downloading Tandem today.

Tandem is a one-of-a-kind language learning app that allows members to connect with native speakers around the world. With over 300 languages to choose from, you can start practicing one of the most popular languages in Europe or one of the thousands of other languages around the world. All you need to do is download the app, match with a native speaker of your preferred language, and start talking! You might even make a few lifelong friends along the way.

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