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500 Million People Speak Spanish as Their Mother Language

  • Cervantes Institute, Madrid, Spain.

    Cervantes Institute, Madrid, Spain. | Photo: X/ @elpais_cultura

Published 30 October 2023

By 2060, the U.S. will become the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.

On Monday, the Cervantes Institute confirmed that Spanish is now the world's second most spoken mother language with 500 million people, accounting for about 6.2 percent of the world's population.


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The report entitled "The Spanish Language in the World" revealed that 499,947,796 people have Spanish as their mother tongue, a figure which means an increase from around 496 million the previous year. The number of potential Spanish users approaches 600 million, including students and those proficient in the language.

According to the Cervantes Institute's academic director Carmen Pastor, it is important to introduce Spanish into the education systems of various countries and to ensure that second and third-generation Spanish people retain their mother tongue.

The Cervantes Institute's report also indicates that the number of Spanish speakers will continue to grow over the next five decades, although its relative importance will progressively decrease towards the end of the century.

The number of potential Spanish users will continue to increase until 2071 when it is expected to surpass 718 million people. However, after 2071, the number is projected to decrease to around 693 million by the end of the 21st century.

By 2060, the United States will become the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, second only to Mexico, with 111 million speakers.

The report explains that over 62.5 million Americans, representing 19 percent of the population, have Hispanic origins, and 68 percent of them use Spanish within their families.

Regarding the study of Spanish as a foreign language, currently, over 23 million students are learning it, nearly 700,000 fewer than the previous year. However, it is estimated that a significant number, particularly in private education, is not officially counted.

About 80 percent of these students are distributed among the United States, the European Union, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. Only one-fifth of American students are studying a foreign language, indicating significant growth potential for Spanish.

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