The Language That Each City Wants to Learn the Most

Last update: 6/5/2024

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If you had to choose, what language would you love to be able to speak?

Your answer might be a language connected to your heritage, one that would come in handy at work, or even one you just like the sound of. It’s a question that compels many people to hit the books and start their language-learning journey, whether their goal is native-level fluency or practical conversational skills. The benefits of learning another language are too numerous to count, from making vacations a smoother experience to boosting your brain power.

There’s a world of languages out there to choose from — over 7,000, in fact. But have you ever wondered which of them all are the most popular for people in the U.S. and across the globe to learn? Our language-loving analysts at WordTips explored the profiles of over 300,000 users on a popular language-learning platform to find out.

Overview of Our Methodology

We counted the languages being learned by 283,425 global users and 47,547 U.S.-based users on the language-learning platform Conversation Exchange in the world’s capital cities and the five most populated cities per state in the U.S. Each location’s most popular language to learn is the language that the highest proportion of local learners are learning. We filtered out users who didn’t list the country’s native language as one of their spoken languages and excluded Spanish from our U.S. rankings since it came first in nearly every city.

Key Findings

  • English is the most popular language being learned in 52 global capital cities, more than any other language.
  • French and German are among the second-most popular languages to learn worldwide.
  • After Spanish, most major U.S. cities are learning French the most.
  • Gen Z and Millennials love learning Japanese and Korean, while Generation X and Baby Boomers prefer studying Italian.

Most of the World Are Learning Either English or Spanish

Our map below reveals the top language that users of Conversation Exchange are learning in each capital city. English comes top in 52 cities, unsurprising given that English is the world’s lingua franca. There are a handful of standout languages on the map, though: Spanish is the most popular language in 10 capital cities, including Washington D.C. and London. Seeing as Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world, it’s easy to see why mastery of it is a useful skill.

German leads in a further 14 capital cities, including Cairo in Egypt. “Learning German is a promising investment,” comments the German ambassador to Egypt. “Over the years, thousands of Egyptian students at Germany’s, Austria’s and Switzerland’s distinguished universities as well as Egyptian graduates from our internationally appraised vocational training system have shown that learning German can be a first step towards a successful academic or professional career.”

Besides Spanish, People in the U.S. Are Learning French and Japanese the Most

Our next visualization uncovers the top language that locals of major U.S. cities are learning outside of Spanish, which our analysis revealed came first in nearly every city. French dominates the map, coming top in 59 cities out of 73 (or 80% of U.S. cities). Learners may be eager to build on their knowledge from school, as French is the second-most taught language in K-12.

In 13 other cities, Japanese comes top, one of the most in-demand languages by U.S. employers. Honolulu in Hawaii is one such city where locals may be learning the language to better communicate with the city’s large Japanese-American community or because it is part of their heritage. Similarly, in Silver Spring, Maryland, locals might be learning Italian more than any other language (outside of Spanish) for the benefit of the state’s sizable Italian-American population.

Which Languages Do Different Generations Love to Learn?

A study by the language-learning platform Duolingo found that about 60% of their users in the U.S. are under 30, but knowing another language is a useful skill at any age. Our next graphic breaks down the top languages being learned by users of different generations on Conversation Exchange.

Meanwhile, German places higher in London’s ranking than New York and Los Angeles, with 6.69% of local learners studying it on Conversation Exchange. While German is losing popularity as a school subject in the UK, it could be that Brits are learning the language in light of Germany’s important economic relationship with the UK and the benefits of having the language on their resumes

How to Level up Your Language Learning

Whatever language you’re learning and wherever you are on the planet, these are our top five tips to help you level up your studies.

1. Choose the right language-learning platform

The internet is awash with free and low-cost websites, software and apps that can help you learn a language at your own pace, using a method that works for you. Conversation Exchange is just one example, but you could also check out Duolingo, Babbel or Rosetta Stone.

2. Immerse yourself in the language

Immersion is a great way to level up your language learning. While moving abroad is the ideal scenario, you can immerse yourself at home by watching TV shows and movies and reading newspapers and books in your target language. You could start by reading children’s books or flipping through picture dictionaries.

3. Find a conversation partner

Power up your speaking and listening skills in another language by finding a conversation partner to practice with, either in real life or online. A text-based conversation is another way of improving your writing and reading skills. 

4. Keep a language journal

Everyone loves an excuse to buy a new notebook, so why not start a new journal in your target language? You could keep a diary of your day-to-day life or write shopping lists, making sure to note down any new vocabulary you’ve picked up. 

5. Play word games to improve your vocabulary

Playing word games and puzzles is a great way to expand your vocabulary in your target language. For example, you could try a Spanish crossword puzzle if you're learning Spanish or improve your English vocabulary by playing Wordle or NYT Connections.

6. Don’t worry about making mistakes

Worrying too much about mistakes will stall your language learning. Spend a little time every day honing your language skills and keep moving forward — making mistakes is all part of the journey!


We counted the languages being learned by 283,425 global users and 47,547 U.S.-based users on the language-learning platform Conversation Exchange in the world’s capital cities and in the five most populated cities per state in the United States.

For each location, we filtered out users who didn’t list the country’s native language as one of their spoken languages to focus the analysis on foreign languages being learned by locals. In the United States, we isolated the most popular language to learn, other than Spanish, as Spanish ranked first in nearly every city.

Each location and American generation (Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers) is ranked on which language has the highest percentage of learners listing it as a practicing language.

Locations with fewer than 100 active language learners on Conversation Exchange were removed.

This study was completed in April 2024.