December 27, 2017 |
Learning a language is a good way to expand your world discovering a new culture. But complex grammar rules and a different syntax even in the easiest language can scare would-be students.
Studying ‘easier’ languages can help you improve your language skills, without placing too much stress on your shoulders. But, finding the easiest language to learn is hard, as most languages are easier than English, which has a large number of words and a lot of complex grammar rules.
So, what’s the easiest language to learn of all? The answer depends on these major elements:
English is a Germanic language, so it has common grammar rules and syntax with Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and German.
These languages also share a series of cognate words (similar words with common origins), which allows you to learn any of these languages faster and with less effort. Depending on your previous learning history and your preferences any of these may be the easiest language for you.
Furthermore, English shares almost 40 percent of its vocabulary with French (and Latin), because of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. As a consequence, you can recognize and remember hundreds of words in the Romantic languages – Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian.
In fact, the US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute lists nine of these ten languages (except German) as ‘Category I’ World languages – the easiest to learn. It seems that native English speakers need between 24 and 30 weeks to learn in any of these languages (around 750 class hours). Yet, if you’re not skilled in learning languages, you could need a little more time to gain proficiency.
Many native English learners consider Spanish the easiest language to learn. Most probably this is the result of more learning opportunities. With so many bilinguals living in the US, anyone can practice Spanish. This is a huge advantage when looking to learn languages fast.
Spanish may not be the easiest language, but it’s easy to learn. It has one sound for each letter, making reading accessible to students. Spelling is phonetic, so you write words as they sound. And pronunciation is easier than French. Even better, the Spanish vocabulary is smaller than the English one. Plus, many words are recognizable, as they share common Latin roots with our language.
Spanish is also one of the most spoken languages in the world. So, learning Spanish opens a series of professional opportunities, as many employers are looking for bilinguals (English and Spanish speakers). Spanish-speaking markets in Latin America have high business potential, so many entrepreneurs are looking for people who can help them do business in countries like Argentina, Peru, Mexico or Colombia.
If Spanish is easy thanks to the high amount of learning opportunities, Norwegian is closer to English in terms of grammar and word order. These two languages also share a significant number of common words, so you’ll have a rich vocabulary right from the start.
Norwegian verbs have one of the easiest conjugations in Europe (closer to English than to German) – one verb form per tense. This makes speaking a lot easier, if you think about how many verb forms you find in the Romantic languages.
Word order in Norwegian is similar to English. ‘I can speak German’ becomes ‘Jeg kan snakke tysk’, where each word has its correspondent. This way, you don’t have to change the way you think every time you want to say something in the foreign language.
Yet, only about 5 million people speak Norwegian, leaving you with fewer opportunities in the long run.
If Norwegian doesn’t interest you at all, you can try Afrikaans. With 20 million speakers, most living in South Africa and Namibia, this language is simple and easy to learn for English-speaking people.
The major advantages come from simplified grammar and an easy pronunciation. Except the ‘g’, all sounds are easy to reproduce for English speakers.
The Afrikaans language doesn’t have grammatical gender. Verbs have one form for each tense and there’s a single form of past tense; unlike English where we make the difference between ‘I was’ and ‘I had been’.
Difficulties come from the few exceptions (some verbs conjugate differently) and the word order, which is more similar to German than to English. Despite this, many people see Afrikaans as the easiest language to learn for native English speakers. Once you’ve learned the vocabulary, there’s no complex grammar rules to stand in your way.
We can’t talk about the easiest language to learn without mentioning Esperanto. It’s an auxiliary language, created by a Polish doctor at the end of the 19th century. It’s also an artificial language – it doesn’t have a nation, being created to make communication easier between people speaking different languages.
Esperanto was created by mixing elements from the existing European Languages. Yet, being an auxiliary language, it has clear rules and regular phonetic spelling.
There’s no immediate professional benefit from learning this language. But, it can help you improve your skills in the long run, so you’ll be able to learn many other languages in the future.
There’s about 2 million people speaking Esperanto today.
Some languages are easier because their grammar is less complex than English. Or because you already have a rich vocabulary in a similar language. But there are people who struggle learning Spanish, despite all statistics, so you shouldn’t get scared if you have hard times with conjugating verbs.
If you’re looking to study a second language for professional reasons only, you should choose Spanish or German. They’re the easiest languages for native English and employers prefer them to other languages.
But, remember that motivation is an important factor when learning a language. The easiest language in the world for you could be Chinese, if you’re willing to dedicate your time to study. It all depends on how much you’re willing to explore and learn about a language and the culture behind it.