Are you ever thought, “I think I’ll learn a new language today” only to change your mind and microwave a burrito instead? I think we’ve all been there. But it’s a new day, so it’s time to give it another try. To make your life easier, we’ve picked 10 languages that are the easiest for an English-speaker to learn. When compiling this list, we took into consideration three factors: how similar the language is to English, the practicality of learning the language, and its overall easiness. Nothing scientific. This article is just for fun, guys.
There are a lot of obvious reasons why Spanish tops the list. First, it’s the most popular second language spoken in America, which means it is useful to learn and it would be fairly easy to find somebody to practice the language with. Furthermore, it’s the foreign language that most high schoolers choose to learn. Plus it’s the native language of 21 different countries, including our neighbor down south. The one thing going against Spanish is that it is not in the same immediately family as English, but nonetheless the similarities make it really easy to learn if you put in the effort.
Italian makes the list because it’s very similar to Spanish. It is spoken by around 65 million people in the world, so as long as you have Skype or are lucky to live in a New York City neighborhood with Italian immigrants, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding somebody to practice. As a bonus, it’s so much fun to pronounce food in Italian!
Now that Brazil is the world’s 9th largest economy – and as a result seeing new job opportunities – Portuguese is becoming a very important language to learn. If you already know Spanish somewhat, you can easily learn Portuguese. In fact, the two languages are so similar that native Portuguese speakers can often understand Spanish even if they have never learned it!
French is a language that remains strong due to French people’s pride and their stubbornness and unwillingness to learn English in contrast to the rest of their counterparts on the European Continent. But in fairness, the ladies also find it sexy, even that weird guttural “spitting” sound, apparently. While it is in the Romance language family along with Spanish and Italian, it is not as easy to learn. For instance, their use of silent letters puts English to shame. In addition, while English has 12 different verb forms, French has 17. There are plenty of good French movies out there and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a native French speaker online.
Romanian is a pretty obscure language that does you little good outside of the country (and having been to the western city of Timișoara myself, it wasn’t necessary to speak it since almost everybody there seems to know English). But it’s a Romance language that is similar to Spanish and Italian, so the grammar structures are something you would be familiar with.
Ah, Sweden. The country that brought us meatballs and Bikini Teams. It might come as a surprise, but Swedish and English actually have quite a bit in common. In particular, they both share a lot of cognates (words that sound familiar to one another), which means right off the bat you already know a lot of Swedish words even if you weren’t aware of it!
German can be a real pain in the ass to learn. But as the world’s fourth largest economy, it serves a practical purpose (although Germans themselves essentially speak English at the native level). There are tons of free and paid online resources that can help you learn German.
Okay, full confession: we’re just throwing this one in there for the hell of it. There are pretty much zero similarities between English and Indonesian. They come from completely different language families. But in relative terms, Indonesian is easy to learn because its words are pronounced exactly as they are written. No silent letters or odd letter combinations that form different sounds and no complicated accent to worry about.
Afrikaans, which is an official language of South Africa, was brought to the colony by Dutch settlers in the 17th century. It’s easy for English speakers to learn for several reasons. First, the grammar rules are super easy. There are no conjugation of verbs (speak, spoke, spoken), nouns are not assigned a gender as in the case of Spanish, and the language lacks pronouns. But just as important, it doesn’t contain any sounds that would be difficult for an English speaker to pronounce.
Danish makes it onto our list because it only contains nine different verb forms, which distinguishes it from other Scandinavian languages. In terms of pronunciation, there are also a lot of similarities. In fact, if you’ve ever been to Denmark, you will notice that its people speak English with virtually no accent. In addition, they also share a lot of cognates (i.e., kold = cold, snegl = snail). Admittedly, the language isn’t very practical, even in the country. When I went to a coffee shop in Copenhagen, I was surprised to find locals speaking to each other in English. But given that around 93% of the country is said to speak it, I guess it shouldn’t come as a shock.