Some people are born linguists. I am in aw of those who can speak in 6-8 languages. Those are the people I most enjoy traveling with! I struggle with basic Spanish. I can ask a question, be understood and I can understand the response. I am lost in a conversation, still translating in my head while the conversation is three sentences ahead of me.
What is considered a language? I think the best way to describe a "language" is, any verbal communication that is understood by two or more. Mandarin has the largest population of Native speakers at 14% of the worlds population, with English Native speakers ranking third in the world.
How many languages are there in the world? The Ethnologue states there are 7100 distinct languages. This number increases as new languages are found. In 2009 the number of languages was 6909 so the have been some new discoveries in the last few years. At the same time, the number is also decreasing as native languages are abandoned for more economical advantages of English or Mandarin. I see this with the Native Indian population here in Canada.
My mother's native language is French but she never spoke French to me or my siblings. In the culture of her adult life, English was the chosen language. She still speaks French, but only to her siblings. French will never become extinct, but my mothers choice was a simple example of how easily languages, and the lack of, can form your life.