7 easiest languages to learn for English speakers

Learning a new language can always boost your career and help you get established in all your endeavors. But it’s not a secret, every beginning is difficult. All your attempts to learn a new language will require a lot of effort and persistent practice. So, it would be wise if you choose easy languages to learn. In other words, you may choose languages similar to English as you native language.

To encourage you, we can add that nowadays, to master a foreign language is much simpler than it was a few decades ago. You don’t have to scrutinize a paper dictionary rushing through the pages to and fro to find the word you need. You can easily find the translation in online versions instead and you can listen to the correct pronunciation right away. Internet makes studies easier and faster. Lessons on Skype are available to anyone. You have an opportunity to choose city teachers even if you live in a rural area with internet connectivity.

Which languages are most similar to English?

To understand what may be the closest language to English, we should know that English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family. This language family is subdivided into three groups. Two of them survived till present: West Germanic (English proper, German, Dutch) and North Germanic (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic). The third group – East Germanic – is now obsolete.

English has always been under great influence from the Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French). Latin roots and the alphabet (runes previously) are explained by the expansion of Romans in Europe. French borrowings assimilated into English significantly after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

The languages differ from each other in many ways. They use different sound systems, they create words in different ways, they have different grammar structure.

A completely different grammar system of Asian languages does not make them the top choice when English speakers seek the answer to the question “What is the easiest language to learn”.

For example, Turkish language belongs to the Turkic family that is known as agglutinative. It means that it builds grammatical categories and forms by means of suffixes added to a word root – making the word rather long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AZDwmX1Iag

English is a flectional analytical language, because the grammatical forms and categories are made through the system of flexions and separate words. Therefore, Asian languages may be too complicated for English speakers. So if you want to pick up one of the easy languages, you are most likely to skip the option with a different grammar system.

Top 7 easiest languages to learn for Anglophones

If you decided to learn a language for fun or for a hobby, or even for the purpose to become a translator, the best idea choice an English native speaker may be to choose something similar to their mother tongue.

The table below represents similarities of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.

 

No Language Geography Native speakers in 2019 (mln people)* Examples of similarity to English
Lexical units Grammar
1 Spanish Spain

Gibraltar

Andorra

Switzerland

Americas

Africa

Oceania

480 Similar roots from Latin:

mucho – much, octo – eight

suffixes for nouns sg and pl: las niñas

indicative, subjunctive, imperative mood for verbs

es for ‘to be’ 3rd person sg (cf. ‘is’)

fixed word order (SVO)

 

2 French France

Belgium

Canada

Africa

Americas

Switzerland

Middle East

Oceania and Australasia

77.2 Numerous borrowings from French with the same spelling and meaning (agreement, behaviour, grandeur)

Spelling observes obsolete pronunciation rules

Definite and indefinite articles for nouns

indicative, subjunctive, imperative mood, present and past participle for verbs

fixed word order (SVO)

3 Norwegian Norway

Sweden

USA

Canada

4.7 Similar roots from Old Norse, e.g.: tu – two, tre – three, bok – book

 

s-variant of possessive: Jentas bil (girl’s car)

suffixes for nouns sg and pl: bat-bater (boat-boats)

fixed word order (SVO)

4 Dutch The Netherlands

Belgium

Americas

South Africa

Australasia

23.1 Similar roots of Germanic origin:

Zenden – to send

Breek – break

Latin and French borrowings

Past tense and participle are formed with suffixes similar to English irregular verbs:

zit-zat (sit-sat)

gebroken (broken)

grammatical cases are mostly obsolete

fixed word order (SVO)

5 Portuguese South and Latin America

Africa

Malaysia

China

India

221 Mostly Latin roots:

fogo – fire (from Latin focus)

razāo – reason (ratio)

irmāo – brother (germanicus)

Germanic borrowings:

suino – swine from ‘sweina’

gravar – to craft, graft, record -from ‘graba’

Lost case system for nouns, two numbers: sg and pl.

Verb: three tenses (past, present, future), three moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive), three aspects (perfective, imperfective, continuous)

mainly fixed word order (SVO)

6 Swedish Sweden

Finland

10 Similar roots of Germanic origin (Old Norse in particular):
den – the

mus  – mouse

kung – king

Definite and indefinite articles for nouns

Using prepositions instead of grammatical cases

fixed word order (SVO)

7 Italian Italy

Switzerland

Eastern Europe

Africa

 

64.8 Similar roots from Latin: settembre – September

secondo – second

studio – study

Noun suffixes for sg and pl – arte-arti (art – arts)

Indefinite and definite articles for nouns

Verbal conjugations by person/number (Indicative)

It should be taken into consideration, that each language in the table can be regarded as the easiest language to learn even just because you spell its words in the Latin alphabet like in English.

Also, the following groups are mutually intelligible, so if you know one already, it will be simpler to master another kindred one:

  • Norwegian-Swedish-Danish (Germanic);
  • Spanish-Portuguese-Italian (Romance).

Why to learn a foreign language?

For most English speakers looking for learn another language, similar language to English remains the first choice – and for good reason.

Recently, I interviewed a professional Russian translator, Hanna Sles, about the best languages to learn and she said: “English is the third spoken global language after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. English native speakers are very lucky, since they have more opportunities to learn new languages and cultures.”

However, there are certain benefits to master another one even if you are lucky to be an Anglophone, especially if this is one of the easiest languages to learn:

  • Personal development – you will get a wider outlook, learn about traditions in other countries, boost your memory and concentration skills, persistence and logics to apply grammar rules;
  • Courtesy – it is always more polite to communicate with people in their mother tongue;
  • Confidence while travelling – you will more secure in a foreign country when you know its language (the choice of destination depends on what climate and activities you prefer for holidays: if you like skiing – set off to the north, if you enjoy the seaside – go to Italy or Spain);
  • Studies and research – composing a thesis, you will get an opportunity to use more information sources;
  • Hobbies – either reading original books and watching films or just keeping yourself busy (as Sartre said, “To do is to be”);
  • Social skills – you will have an opportunity to communicate with new people (both for business and leisure);
  • Work opportunities – you can seek for a better job abroad;
  • Career prospects – if you professionally master a rare-known language, you have a greater chance to be in demand.

For some inspiration in conclusion, remember the theory of the American linguist Noam Chomsky. He states that humans have the so-called ‘language acquisition device’ and possess an innate ability for its learning.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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