Some people might say that there isn’t a thing such as an ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ language. And it’s true – it all depends on your environment and how you tackle language learning. There are some languages that have more similarities with the English language than others. They often share a common linguistic history and seem ‘easier’, because you already speak English.
Many of these languages are not spoken in large parts of the world, and you might not find a reason to learn them. However, the more you understand linguistic connections, the easier language learning becomes. Plus, it opens new horizons not only in travel, but also in your thinking.
Below are 5 of the easiest for English speakers to learn.
Dutch is a West Germanic language that is spoken in the European Union by about 23 million people as a first language. Most of the population of the Netherlands and about sixty percent of Belgium speak Dutch as a first language, and around another 5 million Europeans as a second language. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after German and English.
The reason why Dutch is easy to learn is that the sentence structure and pronunciation used in the language are highly familiar to the English language. Thus, many experts consider Dutch one of the easiest of all languages for English speakers to learn.
The biggest challenge about learning Dutch are, as in most Germanic and Latin languages, gender nouns. They tend to confuse English speakers, but if you have learnt a foreign language such as French or Italian in the past, you should be fine. There are many complex vowel sounds which may feel a little unnatural at first, but don’t let them scare you off. Practice makes perfect!
No surprises here. Italian is the third most widely spoken first language in the European Union with 65 million native speakers (13% of the EU population) and it is spoken as a second language by 14 million EU citizens (3%) Including Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland and Albania) and on other continents, the total number of speakers is around 85 million.
Italian is a romance language, and has a great feature of readability. That means, that you pronounce the words as they’re written. Grammatically, the language follows typical Romantic structure, with gendered nouns and similar word order. Italian is also the second-closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary, so if you have any knowledge in Latin, it will be easy-peasy for you.
Once again, All nouns in Italian, not only those referring to people but also to things or abstract ideas, have a gender. Normally, nouns ending in “o” are masculine, in “a” feminine and those ending in “e” can be masculine or feminine. The challenge here is that there are many exceptions, so a word ending in “o” is not always masculine and vice versa.
The three Germanic languages languages have so much in common that they could almost be seen as dialects. Combined, there are 21 million native speakers of these languages in Northern Europe, also referred to as North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages.
Languages belonging to the North Germanic language tree are spoken commonly on Greenland and, to a lesser extent, by immigrants in North America. There are around 6 million native Danish speakers and 5 million native Norwegian speakers. Swedish comes in at 10 million native speakers found mostly in Sweden, but also in Finland.
Danish, Swedish and Norwegian have a lot of vocabulary common with English. Native English speakers will find that they’re very comfortable with the grammatical structure of these languages.
Pronunciation may be a struggle at first, with 29 letters in the alphabet and vowels that are completely foreign to English speakers. Once you master it, though, the Scandinavian languages are surprisingly melodic.
Spanish is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native-speakers across the world. It is estimated that more than 427 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it the second on the lists of languages by number of native speakers. Spanish is the official or national language in Spain, Equatorial Guinea, and 19 countries in the Americas
Being another romance language, you have two genders in Spanish. Like Italian, the orthography is clear and simple; words are written as they’re pronounced, which makes reading easier. Spanish pronunciation is easy for English speakers, and grammatically, Spanish has fewer irregularities than other romance languages too.
If you are thinking about which language to learn next, I would say Spanish is the way to go!
Say, what?! Yep, many people are not aware that Romanian is one of the Latin languages, and has preserved a lot of Latin’s grammatical structure. It is in fact supposed to be the closest living language to Latin.
Romanian is spoken by around 24 million people as a native language, primarily in Romania and Moldova, and by another 4 million people as a second language.
Romanian shares many words from other romance languages and even English. Therefore, if you have any familiarity with the more popular romance languages, Romanian will be an easy transition.
Maybe learning a new language was your new year’s resolution, and now you definitely have enough inspiration to jump in. Expand your world and your mind by learning one of these awesome languages!
Make sure you check out Abbey’s Language Book Centre for any language learning resources.
One last thing… Did you know, that the best way to learn a language is a cultural and linguistic immersion? Ask us about our language immersion programs today!