What Is The Easiest Language To Learn
Many language learners ask the same question: What is the easiest language to learn in the world? They ask this question because learning any language to a level that allows fluent communication with native speakers takes a lot of time and effort. Instead of struggling for years just to achieve basic proficiency, some people understandably want to make the challenge easier by selecting one of the easiest languages to learn.
Obviously, for many the choice to learn a language is more a factor of location or employment, and in those cases picking the easiest language might not be a possibility. However, knowing the easiest ones can also serve as a factor when making decisions about where to live or work. Being prepared with the knowledge that a choice might make your path more difficult could help you avoid making a mistake if you are not prepared or motivated for a more complex language struggle.
What Makes the Easiest Languages So Easy to Learn?
If you ask a group of people from Ghana and a group of people from Sweden what is the easiest language to learn, you’re guaranteed to get two sets of completely different answers. That’s because there’s no single language that’s universally easier to learn than all other ones.
The difficulty of learning depends on many factors, and not all of these factors can be assessed in an objective manner. There are a few factors that we can take into consideration though, and can serve as a foundation for determining which languages might be easiest for you.
1. Your Native Language
The easiest languages to learn for English speakers are very different from the easiest languages for, let’s say, the speakers of Mandarin Chinese. As a member of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, English has close ties to other languages derived from Proto-Germanic, such as Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
All Germanic languages share certain common linguistic features that set them apart from other languages. These features include putting the verb second, the presence of many different vowel qualities, and the important sound changes known as Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law, just to give a few examples.
Differences in sentence structure, grammar, and even alphabet can be roadblocks for learning a new language. Because even the easiest Asian language to learn is vastly different from Germanic languages, none of them will be the easiest language to learn for English speakers.
For some native speakers of English, the easiest language to learn is Japanese, one of the most difficult languages according to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Why is that? Because they feel a strong motivation to learn.
Perhaps they are interested in Japan’s rich culture, or they have fallen in love with a Japanese man or woman, or they would like to find a job in the country. Whatever the reason behind the motivation is, it acts as the fuel that helps them overcome challenges that would make most other learners cry.
If you feel a strong motivation to learn a certain language, don’t hesitate to embark on the journey. As long as your motivation remains strong, you’ll be able to reach the finish line and achieve fluency.
3. Access to Learning Material
There’s a good reason why there are twice as many non-native speakers of English as native speakers: English is the language of the web and science, so it’s very easy to access interesting learning material, such as online courses, online articles, movies and TV shows, podcasts, music, or video games.
The same is unfortunately not the case for languages with a small number of speakers. While there is an introductory textbook for just about any language under the sun, finding something beyond the beginner level is often a huge struggle. Even if you manage to find something, it won’t be as engaging as modern language learning apps like Encore!!! (available in English, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, and Spanish). Thankfully, Encore!!! is making access to learning materials for languages with a smaller number of speakers easier. By giving native speakers of those languages the ability to create learning materials, there are now more opportunities to both learn and preserve them.
4. Grammar and Vocabulary
Languages with grammar features that are not present in your target language are always more difficult to learn than those that don’t differ much from your native language.
For example, Japanese relies heavily on particles, which are words that have a certain grammatical function but don’t fit into the main parts of speech. It also has a very complex system of honorific suffixes and constructions. On top of this, Japanese words are written either using Chinese characters or one of the two syllabic alphabets, hiragana and katakana.
If you don’t feel like taking on the extra challenge of mastering unfamiliar grammar and exotic alphabets, we recommend you pick one of the easiest languages to learn from the list below.
5. Your Exposure to the Target Language
It’s always easier to learn a language you’re exposed to on a daily basis than any other one you barely come in contact with. That’s why people who leave their home country are able to quickly pick up even more difficult languages with relative ease. If moving to a different country is not an option, you can always immerse yourself in your target language using an app like Encore!!!.
Encore!!! offers unprecedented flexibility to make individualized playlists, allowing you to mix and match your own content with the app’s extensive library. When learning a language with Encore!!! you can keep your device in your pocket and practice virtually anywhere for total immersion, such as while getting ready for work or school, walking, commuting, exercising, cooking, or cleaning.
Top 10 Easiest Languages to Learn for English Speakers
Let’s take a look at the top 10 easiest languages to learn for English speakers. They are selected based on the language difficulty ranking by the Foreign Service Institute, the United States federal government’s primary training institution for employees of the U.S. foreign affairs community. Remember that the ease of learning is subjective, and take into account factors such as your motivation to learn when choosing your new language to study.
Number of native speakers: 24 million
This West Germanic language is spoken by around 24 million people, most of whom live in the Netherlands and Belgium. When listening to spoken Dutch, it’s impossible to not notice the numerous phonological differences that separate it from English, such as the absence of phonological aspiration of consonants and final-obstruent devoicing. While these differences make Dutch seem difficult to learn, the reality is different, and most English speakers won’t have any trouble learning Dutch.
Number of native speakers: 5.32 million
This North Germanic language is one of the two official languages in Norway, the other one being Sami. Many words are exactly the same in English and Norwegian, even if they are pronounced slightly differently. The two languages are also very close grammatically, relying on the same sentence structure and possessive apostrophe. The only problem is that Norwegian is hardly used outside Norway, which is a relatively small country.
Number of native speakers: 10 million
Swedish is another member of the Germanic language family that all English speakers should consider when researching easy languages to learn. While it’s not spoken by nearly as many people as Dutch, Swedish is well-understood in several parts of Finland, making it a great choice for those who would like to explore Nordic countries and discover the beauty of Fennoscandia, the geographical peninsula comprising the Scandinavian and Kola Peninsulas.
Number of native speakers: 6.0 million
Danish is widely considered to be the most difficult Germanic language to learn, but it’s still one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. One of its most characteristic features is the unusually large vowel inventory, which consists of 27 phonemically distinctive vowels. Even Danish children take a while to fully acquire all vowels of this member of the Germanic family.
Number of native speakers: between 15 and 23 million
Afrikaans is actually a descendant of Cape Dutch dialects of Southern Africa, which explains why it’s fairly easy for English speakers to learn. It’s spoken mostly in South Africa and Namibia, but you can also hear it in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Experts estimate that as much as 95% of the vocabulary of Afrikaans is of Dutch origin. You can hear some Afrikaans words in songs by Die Antwoord, a South African hip hop group. In fact, Die Antwoord is Afrikaans for “The Answer.”
Number of native speakers: 483 million
While not a Germanic language (Spanish is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula), Spanish is a great low-hanging fruit for all native speakers of English because it’s the world’s fourth-most spoken language and the third most used one on the internet. It’s also fairly easy to learn because it belongs to the Indo-European language family.
Number of native speakers: 220 million
If you want to travel to or perhaps even live in Portugal or Brazil, Portuguese is an easy choice. Being a member of the Romance language family and having very close ties with Spanish, there are many Portuguese words that all English speakers will instantly understand.
Number of speakers: 69 million
Italian is also a member of the Indo-European family and thus easy to learn for English speakers. It’s an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, and Vatican City. In total, there are around 69 million native speakers of Italian in the European Union, and the number jumps to 90 if you include non-native speakers.
Number of native speakers: 76 million
The French are known for many things, and their love for its poetic language is certainly one of them. Many English speakers are intimidated by French because of its difficult-to-pronounce sounds and complex number system, but these hurdles are much easier to overcome than it might seem at first.
Number of native speakers: 43 million
You shouldn’t expect Indonesian to be anywhere near as easy to learn as, let’s say Danish or Dutch, but it’s arguably the easiest Asian language to learn for native English speakers. Why? Because its grammatical structure is simple, and because it’s written in Latin alphabet, so you don’t need to learn a new alphabet just to write an email. These factors definitely increase its appeal by making it an easier Asian language to learn than most.
We hope that you now know the answer to the question so many people have on their mind when they set the goal of learning a new language: What are the easiest languages to learn for English speakers? There are both the objective and subjective answers to that question, so be sure to take your personal goals into account when choosing. Being motivated enough or immersed enough in a language can mean the easiest language could easily change by being the one you are more motivated or have the greatest opportunity to learn.
Regardless of which one you pick, make sure to equip yourself with the best learning tools, and use Encore!!! mobile app for total immersion. The ability to learn at almost any time or any place, makes your language learning journey that much easier no matter what language you choose.
FAQs about the Easiest Languages To Learn
1. What is the most similar language to English?
The most similar major language to English is Dutch. The two languages share similarities in many words and structure, making it easy for most English speakers to understand and learn.
2. Which language is closest to Latin?
Italian is the closest language to Latin. While all Romance languages share an origin in Latin, Italian retains the greatest similarity to its progenitor.
3. Which language has the easiest grammar?
While not on our list of easiest languages, Mandarin Chinese has the easiest grammar. The language has a subject-verb-object structure and no inflections of verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. This makes it easy to learn and even if you misplace a word in your sentence you will likely be understood.
4. What is the easiest accent to learn?
The easiest accent to learn is the generalized American accent, as it is one of the most represented in media around the world. This means it gives ample samples for people to listen to and mimic, while also being a rather simple accent as well.
5. What two languages are most similar?
Spanish and Portugese are both very similar languages, and knowing one makes learning the other much simpler. Many times, media in countries that speak one of the two languages does not even translate content in the other due to it being so well understood.