What is the easiest foreign language to learn in the world? The answer to this question depends on many factors and one considers what languages you already speak. But if you are a native English speaker, some languages are easier to learn than others.
When figuring out what the easiest languages to learn for English speakers are, what factors should you consider? The first is the language’s relation to English. Languages similar to English, or in the same language family, will be easier to learn than a language from a distant family. The easiest languages to learn from English are also those that share the same writing system--languages that have an alphabet similar to the English alphabet. There are, of course, other things to consider, but for now, here are the top 10 easiest languages to learn.
Afrikaans speakers around the world: 7.2 million native speakers
Why is Afrikaans easy to learn?
Afrikaans is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn because--like many of the languages on this list--it’s part of the Germanic language family. It’s spoken in South Africa, Namibia, and a few other countries. It is known as the “daughter language” to Dutch (it shares 90 to 95% of its vocabulary with the language.
Danish speakers around the world: 6.0 million native speakers
Why is Danish easy to learn?
Of the Scandinavian languages on this list, Danish has the most challenging pronunciation, but it still makes it onto the list as an easy language to learn from English. It shares several words with English and is a close relative to English.
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Dutch speakers around the world: 24 million native speakers
Why is Dutch easy to learn?
Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands and parts of Belgium and it’s similarities to English put it in the top 10 easiest languages for English speakers to learn. It has a huge shared vocabulary with English--many of its words are even exactly the same as in English (and that includes spelling).
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French speakers around the world: 76.8 million native speakers
Why is French easy to learn?
French may not be the easiest Romance language to learn on this list, but it’s widely spoken and also has a large shared vocabulary with English. Due to many disputes between England and France throughout history, many words have passed between the two languages.
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Italian speakers around the world: 67 million native speakers
Why is Italian easy to learn?
Italian isn’t as widely spoken as its closest relatives on this list--Spanish and French--but its vocabulary is still largely recognizable to many English speakers because of its Latin origins. Many English speakers also already know several Italian words because of the presence and popularity of Italian cuisine.
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Norwegian speakers around the world: 5.32 million native speakers
Why is Norwegian easy to learn?
Norwegian may be the easiest language to learn from English. It doesn’t have Danish’s challenging pronunciation or German’s not-so-easy grammar. Many Norwegian words are similar to their English counterparts and there’s only one form of a verb per tense. Norwegian word order is also very similar to that of English.
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Portuguese speakers around the world: 223 million native speakers
Why is Portuguese easy to learn?
Spoken in both Brazil and Portugal, Portuguese makes it onto the list of easy languages for English speakers. Much like Spanish, Portuguese has a large shared vocabulary with English and popular culture has made the language familiar for many. You’ve likely seen a caipirinha on your local bar’s menu, açaí (a berry) is of Portuguese origin, as is the word zombie.
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Romanian speakers around the world: 5.32 million native speakers
Why is Romanian easy to learn?
Romanian is a Romance language, so it’s pretty similar to other Romance languages like Spanish, French, and Portuguese. It’s grammar is a little more challenging than say French or Italian, but it’s still much easier than languages in other language families for English speakers to learn.
Spanish speakers around the world: 483 million native speakers
Why is Spanish easy to learn?
Spanish has always been one of the top choices for English speakers as a second language because it’s widely spoken, extremely accessible, and shares a lot of vocabulary with English due to its Latin roots. While it’s grammar poses some challenges for English speakers, its pronunciation is fairly straightforward.
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Swedish speakers around the world: 10 million native speakers
Why is Swedish easy to learn?
You may have noticed there are quite a few Scandinavian languages on this list. That’s because their shared Germanic roots with English make them fairly easy for English speakers to learn. Swedish has loads of cognates with English (words that share the same origin). It also has similar grammar and word order, making it one of the best languages for English speakers to learn.
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The language that is the most similar to English is Scots (different from Scots-Gaelic). It’s spoken in Scotland and is a minority language. The majority language that is the most similar to English is Dutch.
It could be said that the most difficult language to learn is your first. Once you learn the skill of language learning, your next language tends to come easier. Some would say learning a language similar to the language you already learned (so learning Italian after Spanish or Swedish after Norwegian) is easier than learning distant languages. But others would argue it’s easier to learn a more distant language because you’re less likely to mix them up.
If English is your second language and you’re looking to learn your third, what’s the next best step? Again, looking to the language you’re most motivated to learn is the way to go--whether it’s for enjoyment or for work or other obligations.
If you’re wondering “what is the easiest language for English speakers to learn?” or “what language is easiest to learn?” you’ve seen there’s no easy answer. To sum it up, the easiest language to learn is the language you’re most motivated to learn. If you have a clear reason or purpose for learning a language, it’s easier to stick with a language through the more challenging moments.
So there you have it, the answer to what language is easiest to learn for English speakers: the language that strikes a chord with you.
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