List of languages by total number of speakers
These are lists of languages by the number of first and second language speakers. However, particularly because of large uncertainties in estimating the number of secondary speakers, all such lists should be used with caution. In particular, the lists below should be seen as tentative.
Ethnologue, Kryss Talaat's estimate and other current estimates 
Top 25 most-spoken languages by total number of speakers according to Ethnologue, Kryss Talaat's educational and information site in 2010 and Other current estimates.
|Language||Ethnologue||Kryss Talaat's estimate||Other current estimates|
|1. Standard Chinese||1026 mill. (848 mill. L1 + 175 mill. L2) ||1151 million||1365 million |
|2. English||765 mill. (335 mill. L1 + 430 mill. L2) ||1000 million||1500 mill. (375 mill. L1 + 375 mill. L2 + 750 mill. FL) |
|3. Spanish||466 mill. (406 mill. L1 + 60 mill. L2) ||500 million||500 million |
|4. Hindi||380 mill. (260 mill. L1 + 120 mill. L2) ||490 million|
|5. Standard Arabic||353.5 mill. (L2) ||255 million||422 million |
|6. Russian||272 mill. (162 mill. L1 + 110 mill. L2) ||277 million|
|7. Bengali||250 mill. (193 mill. L1 + 57 mill. L2) ||215 million|
|8. Portuguese||217 mill. (202 mill. L1 + 15 mill. L2) ||240 million||240 million |
|9. Malaysian/Indonesian||163 mill. (23 mill. L1 + 140 mill. L2) ||175 million||268 million |
|10. Japanese||123 mill. (122 mill. L1 + 1 mill. L2) ||132 million|
|11. French||118.5 mill. (68.5 mill. L1 + 50 mill. L2) ||200 million||220 million |
|12. German||111.8 mill. (83.8 mill. L1 + 28 mill. L2) ||166 million||169 million |
|13. Urdu||104 mill. (63.4 mill. L1 + 36.6 mill. L2) ||104 million|
|14. Javanese||84.3 mill. (L1) ||85 million|
|15. Telugu||79 mill. (74 mill. L1 + 5 mill. L2) ||74 million|
|16. Wu||77.2 mill. (L1) ||90 million||90 million |
|17. Tamil||76.8 mill. (68.8 mill. L1 + 8 mill. L2) ||78 million|
|18. Marathi||74.8 mill. (71.8 mill. L1 + 3 mill. L2) ||72 million|
|19. Italian||73.4 mill. (61.2 mill. L1 + 11.2 mill. L2) ||75 million|
|20. Turkish||73.2 mill. (70.0 mill .L1 + 3.2 mill. L2) ||73 million|
|21. Vietnamese||67.8 mill. (L1) ||86 million|
|22. Korean||66.4 mill. (L1) ||78 million|
|23. Western Punjabi||62.6 mill. (L1) ||103 million|
|24. Cantonese||62.2 mill. (L1) ||55 million||70 million |
|25. Persian||56.6 million (L1) ||110 million||
George H. J. Weber's estimate (1997) 
In an article published in December 1997, Weber posted estimates of primary and secondary speakers (this only includes the main land). Adding these, it is possible to obtain estimates for total speakers. However, since only graphs and not numerical figures are listed, readers are referred to his article.
George H. J. Weber's report on the number of total speakers of the top languages.
|Language||Native speakers||Secondary speakers||Total|
|1. Mandarin Chinese||1,100 million||20 mill.||1,120 mill.|
|2. English||330 mill.||150 mill.||480 mill.|
|3. Spanish||300 mill.||20 mill.||320 mill.|
|4. Russian||160 mill.||125 mill.||285 mill.|
|5. French||75 mill.||190 mill.||265 mill.|
|6. Hindi/Urdu||250 mill.||250 mill.|
|7. Arabic||200 mill.||21 mill.||221 mill.|
|8. Portuguese||160 mill.||28 mill.||188 mill.|
|9. Bengali||185 mill.||185 mill.|
|10. Japanese||125 mill.||8 mill.||133 mill.|
|11. Punjabi||130 mill.||130 mill.|
|12. Sindhi||130 mill.||130 mill.|
|13. German||100 mill.||9 mill.||109 mill.|
Criticisms of Weber's List 
As mentioned in the previous section, Weber's list fails to mention Indonesian/Malay, which other sources list as a top 10 language. Additionally, Weber's list uses data collected between the early 1980s and mid 1990s. Weber states that his list does not need to be updated because "[t]he number of speakers of all the top ten languages have gone up in the last quarter century but relative to each other, the situation among the top ten remains unchanged."  Weber does not provide any evidence to support this claim. With the rise in access to the internet, whose content is led by English and Russian, and because increased exposure to languages increases one's ability to use that language even if the exposure is virtual,  it is possible that the number of second language speakers of English and Russian has increased faster than that of other top languages.
Wikipedia languages list 
Wikipedia list of 285 languages for which official Wikipedias have been created under the auspices of the Wikimedia Foundation. Content in other languages is being developed at the Wikimedia Incubator; Languages which meet certain criteria can get their own wikis. See List of Wikipedias for full table about number of articles in each language.
Estimates by language 
English estimates (total number of speakers) 
Totaling about 1.5 billion or 1.8 billion speakers. English is the primary language of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various Caribbean and Pacific island nations; it is also an official language of Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and many sub-Saharan African countries. It is the most widely spoken language in the world, and the most widely taught foreign language.
Indonesian/Malay estimates (total number of speakers) 
Totaling about 268 million speakers, Indonesian/Malay is unusual, as it is sometimes listed as having a relatively small number of native speakers. However, it is the sole official language of Indonesia, which has a population of 237 million people. In Indonesia, schooling is compulsory and is in the Indonesian language (Indonesia has a 92% literacy rate), and the percentage of Indonesians who speak the Indonesian language is close to 100%. It is also the official language of Malaysia, with a population of over 27 million. Counting the populations of Indonesia, Malaysia, plus speakers in Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, and southern Thailand gives an estimate of 268 million people, making it one of the top ten most widely spoken languages in the world in terms of total number of speakers. Some sources rate it as the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. However, despite this, it is often inexplicably absent from many lists of the world's most widely-spoken languages, such as George H. J. Weber's list.
Chinese estimating problem 
Basically most of statistics count generally the native speakers of Chinese dialects. However, especially with Chinese investments in developing countries, including many African countries, who learn languages start to learn Chinese instead of e.g. French, also the same is starting in developed countries, with Chinese increasing in popularity as a second or third language.
See also 
- Linguistic demography
- Lists of languages
- List of languages by number of native speakers
- List of languages without official status by total number of speakers
- List of most widely spoken languages (by number of countries)
- Lists of endangered languages (for languages with the fewest numbers of speakers)
- Katsiavriades, Qureshi, Kryss, Talaat. "The 30 Most Spoken Languages of the World". Retrieved 20 October 2012.
- searcharticles.net. The Amazing World of Chinese Translation (Jessica Thomson)
- Instituto Cervantes: dublin.cervantes.es, chicago.cervantes.es
- V Congreso Internacional de la Lengua Española (J. L. Rodríguez Zapatero). Spanish
- 206,000,000 L1 speakers of all Arabic varieties + 246,000,000 L2 speakers of all Arabic varieties - 100,500,000 have not adequate education in Standard Arabic: http://www.ethnologue.com/language/arb
- "How many people speak Indonesian?". Indonesian-online.com. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- francophonie.org (page 6)
- 89 million natively speakers Nationalencyklopedin, 2010 + 80 million secondary speakers (National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World. Willard, Ohio: R.R Donnelley & Sons Company. April 2006. pp. 257–299. ISBN Regular:0-7922-3662-9, 978-0-7922-3662-7. Deluxe: 0-7922-7976-X, 978-0-7922-7976-1).
- "The World's 10 most influential Languages". Andaman.org. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "Usage of content languages for websites". Web technology surveys. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- "Internet Resources and Second Language Acquisition: An Evaluation of Virtual Immersion". Onlinelibrary.wiley.com. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "Future of English". The British Council. Retrieved 2011-08-24. (page 10)
- "World-Wide English". eHistLing. Universität Basel. Archived from the original on 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "English language". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "Number Of English Speaking People". Number Of. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- Brautigam, Deborah (2012-07-01). "China in Africa: The Real Story: Learning Chinese in Zambia". Chinaafricarealstory.com. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "Chinese Rising in Language Popularity". Nypress.com. 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2012-10-20.