Study: 2023 Most Popular Languages to Learn (Google Trends and TikTok)

Tori Tornreviewed byKateryna Protsenko / more about Editorial Process10 min
Created: Dec 11, 2023Last updated: Dec 13, 2023

Have you been learning a foreign language this year? Even if you only made it through January, it counts. We know how dang challenging it is to stay committed to New Year’s resolutions. And learning languages is a timeless endeavor, so you definitely haven’t been alone in your language learning journey this year. 

Promova analyzed Google Trends search data to find out which languages were the top 10 most popular to learn in 2023. We also looked up hashtags that contained the word “learn” and one of those top 10 languages to learn on TikTok to uncover language learning tendencies on the social media platform. From English to Portuguese, we reveal which were the hottest languages to learn in 2023.

Key Takeaways

  • English was the most popular language to learn in 2023, both by Google search and on TikTok. However, Google searches for the phrase “learn English” have declined by 5.54% compared to 2022. 
  • According to Google search data, the most popular language to learn in the US and the UK is Spanish — it made up 486К and 118.8K of those countries’ language learning searches, respectively. 
  • The most popular language to learn in Canada is French (64.8K of searches), followed by Spanish (43.2K) and English (34.8K).
  • Japanese turned out to be the most popular language to learn in Australia (28.8K of searches). 
  • The most popular language to learn on TikTok in 2023 was English, with the #learnenglish hashtag garnering 10 billion views, followed by Chinese with 3 billion, Spanish and Korean with 1 billion views each, and French with 941 million.
  • TikTok users ages 18–24 and 35+ are interested in learning the same languages on the platform, while people 25–34 have different language interests.

Most Popular Language Worldwide: Top Languages to Learn by Google Trends

To determine the most popular languages to learn in 2023, Promova analyzed thousands of Google searches related to language learning over the past 12 months. The data from Google searches for “learn [language]” revealed the top 10 languages to learn worldwide. The absolute leader in 2023 was English. Second place goes to Spanish, third to Japanese, fourth to French, and fifth to German and Korean.

Interest in learning most of the languages that formed the top 10 was up in 2023 from 2022 increased. However, there was a 5.54% decline in the search key “learn English” and an 8.01% decline in “learn Korean” compared to the previous year. 

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English, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, German, French, and Italian are the most popular languages to learn worldwide, but which country used the search key “learn [language]” the most for each of those languages differs. India showed the most interest in English (16.40% of searches). Learning Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese, French, Portuguese, and Italian were of the most interest this year in the United States.   

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The top 3 languages to learn in the UK in 2023 were Spanish, which had more than 118K of “learn [language]” searches in the country, French (over 79K), and Italian (over 64K). It’s possible that the growing interest in learning Spanish among Brits is due to the regular appearance of Spanish-language songs in the UK charts.  

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The top 3 languages to learn in Canada in 2023 were French (more than 64K of “learn [language]” searches), Spanish (over 43K), and English (over 34K). Interest in learning French clearly indicates that people in Canada want to learn the second official language of the country. 

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Based on the frequency of their Google searches, the top 3 languages to learn in Australia in 2023 were Japanese (more than 34K of “learn [language]” searches), Italian (over 28K), and Spanish (over 28K). Although it might seem unusual that Japanese is so hot in Australia, there’s a very simple explanation. According to the Australian Curriculum — the national curriculum for primary and secondary schools in Australia — Australia has a significant Japanese population, and Japanese is widely taught as a second language in schools there. 

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In the US, Google search frequency shows that the top languages to learn in 2023 were Spanish (more than 486K of searches), English (over 177K), and Japanese (over 177K). The increasing popularity of Spanish in the US reflects the shifting demographics of the country as the population of native Spanish speakers continues to grow.

Most Popular Language in the World: Language Learning Tendencies on TikTok in 2023

Since TikTok has become a popular platform for language learning, we decided to check for similarities with Google for the top languages to learn. To do so, we analyzed hashtags that include the word “learn” and one of the 10 most popular languages to learn in 2023 according to Google search frequency. 

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The absolute leader was English, with 345K posts and 10B views in 2023. However, unlike Google search results, second place went to Chinese, with 135K posts and 3B views; Spanish was third with 40K posts and 1B views; Korean was fourth, with 38K posts and 1B views; and French was fifth most popular, with 32K posts and 941M views. Portuguese turned out to be a relatively unpopular language to learn on TikTok compared to Google search — the #learnportuguese hashtag only had 5K posts and 98M views in 2023. 

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The country that viewed the most videos with the hashtag #learnenglish in 2023 is Qatar. Their interest in this language is 3.37 times higher than average. The hashtags #learnchinese and #learnkorean happened to score big in Singapore, #learnspanish turned out to be the hottest in Spain, #learnfrench in France, #learngerman in Germany, #learnportuguese in Portugal, #learnjapanese in Japan, #learnitalian in Italy, and #learnarabic was most popular in Qatar.  Clearly, in 2023, people were willing to learn the language of the country they’re staying in.

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Korean takes the prize for being the most popular language to learn on TikTok among people 18–24 and 35+ in 2023. Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and English follow right after. While the preferences of those two age groups happen to be the same, TikTok users 25–34 showed more interest in Arabic (41%), English (33%), and Italian (32%).

 

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Content published by US TikTok users in 2023 with the hashtag #learnenglish was significantly less than the number of videos with the hashtag #learnchinese. Nevertheless, #learnenglish content received more than twice as many views. The number of posts with the hashtags #learnjapanese and #learnkorean in USA were the same (5K), but it seems Americans are more interested in Japanese, since #learnjapanese content had 116M views, compared to 105M views for content about learning Korean. Despite the small number of posts by US users with the hashtag #learngerman (only 993), interest in learning German in the US is high, with content receiving 52M views.

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TikTok users ages 18–24 showed the most interest in learning Korean, which could be attributable to the growing popularity of Korean culture through K-pop and K-dramas, while TikTok users over the age of 35 favored videos with the hashtag #learnitalian, possibly because Italy is one of the hottest travel destinations in the world. 

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Even though Google search data shows that Spanish was the most popular language to learn in the UK, TikTok users in Britain showed more interest in English — they made 13K posts and gave 196M views to the #learnenglish hashtag. Second place went to Chinese, with 10K posts and 90M views. And Spanish was in third place, with 6K posts and 30M views.

Interestingly, French was twice as popular as Italian among users in the UK. Hashtags for learning both languages had the same number of posts (1K), but #learnfrench content had 30M views, compared to 15M for #learnitalian. 

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When it comes to preferences by age, TikTok users ages 18–24 and 35+ in the UK picked Chinese and Korean as their top languages in 2023. Second place went to Japanese and third to French. Spanish, German, and Arabic share fourth place.

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Japanese takes third place in the top languages to learn among TikTok users in Australia. The majority prefer to consume content about English — #learnenglish content had 1K posts and 76M views in 2023. Chinese was second most popular, with 1K posts and 33M views. 

Interestingly, more TikTok content creators in Australia made content about learning German than Italian. Though the two both received 5M views, #learngerman was used 438 times compared to 237 for #learnitalian over the past 12 months. 

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In Australia, TikTok users ages 18–24 showed more interest than other age groups in content that used a #learn[language] hashtag for every language from the top 10 languages to learn according to Google search, with one exception. TikTok users 25 and older were more interested in learning Portuguese than their younger counterparts.

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On Canadian TikTok, English takes first place among top languages to learn by Google search over the past 12 months — 5K posts and 111M views. However, French received more attention from TikTok content creators in Canada than Spanish. With the same number of views — 23M, #learnfrench was used 1K times compared to 566 #learnspanish posts over the past 12 months. Even though it had more posts, Arabic received less views than Italian and German.  

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TikTok users ages 18–24 and 35+ in Canada were most interested in learning Korean. Japanese was the second most popular, with Spanish and Chinese following. 

The Beauty of Knowing Another Language

At the end of December, many people create a list of New Year’s resolutions. It’s a time when people feel inspired or motivated enough to base jump, try skydiving, move to another country, or learn a new language. However, what some start in January doesn’t always make it to the end of the year. 

If you’re ready to commit to improving your knowledge of the language of your choice, let Promova help you out. Our goal-orientated approach to learning languages is one of the things that differentiate our platform from others. With our bite-sized lessons, tutoring programs, and conversation clubs, you will feel support and encouragement at every step of your language learning journey. So, don’t wait — commit to mastering a foreign language in the new year right now!

Methodology

To complete this study, Promova looked at Google search keys that contained the word “learn” — both worldwide and in selected countries — from November 2022 to October 2023. Then, we identified the 10 top keys that additionally contained a language (“learn+language”) to get a full picture of language learning tendencies in 2023. 

We also consulted TikTok data on hashtags that consisted of the word “learn” and one of the top 10 most popular languages to learn according to our Google search research. Data from TikTok was only available for age groups 18–24, 25–34, and 35+.

Fair use statement

All the information you learned here is free to share for non-commercial purposes only. When referring to any data from this publication, please make sure to include a link back to this page.

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