International Mother Language Day: Celebrating Linguistic & Cultural Diversity

International Mother Language Day, world map

International Map by frankh, on Flickr

Happy International Mother Language Day! Since February 2000, this holiday has been celebrated and recognized around the world to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, and multilingualism. According to The United Nations: “the date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.”

It goes without saying that languages are powerful tools – not only do they communicate ideas, but they are what forge cultural ties, global relationships, and diplomatic ties. As a way to encourage even more appreciation of world languages, GoAbroad is pleased to feature ten of the most popular language programs searched on!  Whether you’re interested in learning a new language or enhancing your basic skills, we are working together to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures around the world. Is there a language you are learning (or want to learn) that isn’t included on this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

1. Spanish

As one of the world’s most popular spoken languages, it’s no surprise that so many are interested in learning more about this unique and widely-spoken language. Spanish is particularly fast-growing in demographics and popular culture in the United States of America, adding to the 500 million total Spanish speakers worldwide (includes native speakers and second-language speakers). As the world becomes even more interconnected, we’re sure this number will only increase! You can check out more opportunities to learn Spanish abroad on

2. French

Commonly referred to as a Romance language, French was first spoken in France, but nowadays has speakers distributed around the world–as well as being an official language in 29 countries! Did you know that French is also an official working language of the UN, the International Red Cross, The European Economic Community, NATO, and the International Olympic Committee (just to name a handful). There is no doubt just as many opportunities available with the French language listed under your skill set! See all the language programs listed on GoAbroad to learn French!

3. Arabic

World Travler, International Mother Language Day

World Traveler by Boris van Hoytema, on Flickr

This historical language has roots that run deep (all the way back to the 6th century AD!) and combines a wide variety of dialects and distinctions. As the most widely spoken language in the Middle East, Arabic is the official language of 22 countries–providing plenty of destinations to learn and master it. As another fun fact, you might be interested to know that Arabic is written right to left, and the front of an Arabic book is what would be considered the back by speakers of most western languages. Check out all the places and programs you can learn Arabic on!

4. Korean

North Korea and South Korea are where this particular language calls home. With around 78 million speakers worldwide, the Korean language attracts it’s fair share of popularity! It is also a language where one word can have several different meanings–and where each definition is in extremely common use, as opposed to being obscure. Added to that, the official spelling of Korean words are prone to change–making this a language learning experience sure to keep you on your toes! Explore all the Korean language programs available on

5. Farsi

The Farsi language, more commonly referred to as Persian, is a rich and ancient language that consists of three main dialects. While this language is commonly spoken in Iran (as well as being its official language) there are also large communities of speakers of other languages such as Arabic, Kurdish and Turkic dialects. It is estimated that around 40 million people in Iran alone claim Farsi as a native language–and that’s not including the range of other countries where this unique language can be found. Interested to learn more? See all the places and ways you can master the Farsi language on!

6. Tagalog

The Philippines are no stranger to having a wide variety of languages–with over 70 different languages spoken (which encompass over 450 distinct dialects!) there is no shortage of language learning opportunities. The Tagalog language is also commonly known as Filipino in its standardized form, and is recognized as the national language of the Philippines. It is also interesting to note that because English is widely spoken in the Philippines, it is not uncommon to hear Filipinos use a mixture of English and Filipino words or phrases, known as “Taglish” in their everyday conversations! Check out all the ways you can study the Tagalog language on

7. Swahili

Swahili is a language of Bantu (African) origin and the most widely spoken language of eastern Africa. This is a language it is common to hear featured in some world radio stations such as: the BBC, Radio Cairo (Egypt), the Voice of America (U.S.A.), Radio Deutschewelle (Germany), Radio Moscow International (Russia), and Radio Japan International, among many others. The way it has borrowed and absorbed words from other languages only adds to its dynamic presence in the world, and you can learn about the programs available to study Swahili on GoAbroad!

8. Japanese

With over 130 million speakers of Japanese in Japan, you might wonder: why is this language considered one of the hardest to learn? Perhaps it’s that the written language has three different forms, or maybe it’s that the main verb comes at the end of the sentence. But what would a language learning experience be like without a bit of a challenge? We say put your skills to the test and explore all the opportunities available to stud Japanese on!

9. Chinese

Did you know that Chinese is the oldest written language in the world with roughly 6,000 years of history? With over 20,000 Chinese characters included in the variety of dialects, there is plenty to learn about Chinese. From Mandarin to Wu, you never know what words or pronunciations you’ll be able to pick up! Start your own search to find a program where you can learn more about Chinese on!

10. Hebrew

Last, but certainly not least, is the Hebrew language. Classified as a Semitic language, Hebrew is one of the oldest languages in the world (it dates back to between the 11th and 10th centuries BC). It has also been called the language of the Bible, and is the native language of Israel. In the United States alone, it has been documented to have over 200,000 native Hebrew speakers, as well as over 2 million non-native speakers. While more people speak Modern Hebrew nowadays, as opposed to traditional Hebrew, this language learning experience is a combination of fun and challenge! Explore all the opportunities to learn Hebrew abroad on!

Be sure to also check out some of the most unique languages to learn, that were previously featured on the GoAbroad Blog!

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