The 9 Easiest Languages for English Speakers
The 9 Easiest Languages for English Speakers

The 9 Easiest Languages for English Speakers

The 9 easiest languages for English speakers

So you want to learn a new language? Will this be your first foreign language? Do you want to start with an easy language? What is the easiest language for English speakers to learn? The English language has a reputation for being hard. Our grammar rules, pronunciation, and idioms make it a fairly difficult foreign language. Many of my Chinese and Mexican friends tell me about hurdles they encountered when learning English. But what about when English speakers try to learn different languages? How difficult will it be/ And should you learn Spanish? Learn French?

But let’s do an aside first, and talk about the HARDEST major languages for English speakers to learn!

Some of the hardest languages for English speakers

  1. Mandarin Chinese: a. It is a tonal language. b. Different script.
  2. Arabic: a. Different script b. Grammar differs dramatically from English c. different pronunciation.
  3. Japanese: a. Multiple writing systems b. different grammar c. different pronunciation
  4. Russian: a. Cyrillic script b. complex grammar c. difficult pronunciation and big words
  5. Korean: a. different script b. different grammar c. different pronunciation

Now, let’s give you a taste of what Chinese script looks like. Here is an example of a common Chinese character: “爱”. This character is pronounced like “ài” and it means “love”. As poetic as it is, imagine having a language composed entirely of characters like this – each with its pronunciation and meaning. No wonder it’s a challenge for English speakers to learn!

Lets try Russian: “Моё любимое время года – это, безусловно, зима”. Pronounced as “Moyo lyubimoye vremya goda – eto, bezuslovno, zima”, it translates literally translates to “My favorite time year- it without a doubt is winter.” You can see how the pronunciation of the words and the script differs greatly from the English translation provided.

Asian languages like Korean or Japanese can also have very different grammar rules. For example in English, we say “I eat apples.” But in Japanese, this sentence would be “私はリンゴを食べます,” pronounced as “Watashi wa ringo o tabemasu,” which translates as “I apples eat.” The verb comes last in the sentence, creating a flip in the sentence structure English speakers are used to. Particles like ‘wa’ and ‘o’ are used to indicate the subject and object of the sentence, which is a concept not present in English.

What makes a language hard to learn are differences in script, pronunciation, and grammar. The greater these differences, the more challenges language learners will encounter. (Now there is immense value in knowing the languages above and other languages that are different from yours. But we will discuss that in another post.)

What makes a language easy

So if you want an easy new language to learn you want a language withthe:

  • The same writing system a.k.a. Latin Alphabet
  • relatively simple grammar rules
  • similar pronunciation
  • a significant amount of shared vocabulary

Relatives of English

The closest relatives of the English language are those within the Germanic family, which English is a part of. Here are some of them:

  • German: Sharing the same Germanic roots, English speakers might find some similarities in vocabulary.
  • Dutch: Often considered the “middle ground” between English and German, Dutch is relatively easy to grasp in terms of vocabulary and grammar.
  • Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish: These North Germanic languages also share certain linguistic characteristics with English, making them relatively easy
  • Scots: a close relative language with many similar words and structures.
  • Frisian: the closest living relative to English.

Most languages from the Germanic family will be among the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Romance languages (Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Romanian) are also relatively easy for English speakers to pick up.

Here is a list of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Each of these languages should take a person whose native language is English approximately 600 to 750 hours. Let’s talk about the most commonly studied Romance languages first.

Romance Languages

The Romance languages are spoken across the globe. Despite their unique characteristics, these languages share certain commonalities in phonetics, vocabulary, and syntax, making them among the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.

  1. Spanish: The grammar and sentence structure are different from English, but simpler. The vocabulary shares many cognates with English due to words similar to Latin roots. Spanish also has the advantage of being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It also is the official language in many countries. Spanish has many native speakers in the US and is a second language for many. I loved learning Spanish.
  2. French: This language is in many ways linguistically similar to English, with a significant amount of shared vocabulary. Approximately 30% of English words are of French origin. French is spoken not only in France and Canada but also in other parts of the world including many countries in West Africa.
  3. Italian: A phonetic language and possibly one of the easiest Romance languages to read, write, and pronounce. Italian words overlap with other Romance languages and even to an extent with English. As a Romance language, it shares similarities with French and Spanish.
  4. Portuguese: Just like Italian, this language is phonetic and is easy to read making it one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. , which makes reading and speaking easier, and the sentence structure is straightforward and consistent.
  5. Romanian: While being a Romance language, Romanian has greater word borrowings from Greek and Slavic languages but it is also relatively easy for English speakers to learn.

Germanic Languages

Germanic languages form another group of languages that English speakers often consider learning and this group includes languages like German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, among others. They have grammatical structures and vocabulary that are somewhat familiar to English speakers, as they belong to the same language family as English. These languages are spoken across northwestern Europe.

  1. Dutch: Oftent Dutch is considered the easiest language for an English speaker to learn.
  2. Swedish: The vocabulary draws many parallels with English, and the grammar is simpler. Some Swedish words sound like their English counterparts: the Swedish word “katt” is similar to the English word “cat”, “hus” is similar to “house”, and “bok” is similar to “book”.
  3. Norwegian: Its grammar is simple, making it easier for English speakers to grasp.
  4. Danish: Like Swedish and Norwegian, Danish has simple grammar and shares a considerable amount of vocabulary with English.

I did not include German in the list. The grammar rules are fairly complicated and the syntax differs significantly. So, it may not be as easy as the other languages.

A Comparison

So should you choose a Romance or Germanic language?

  1. Romance Languages have more native speakers.
  2. Romance Languages are spread out around the globe, particularly in Europe, Latin America and to a certain extent West Africa. The Germanic languages mentioned above are largely in northwestern Europe.
  3. The grammatical structure and vocabulary of the Germanic languages mentioned above is closer to English.
  4. Both language families offer a wealth of cultural experiences for you.

Consider your interests, career plans, and literary interests before diving. But no matter which language you choose, you will come out the better!

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