August 1, 2020

10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn

Why Learn Another Language

Today's technologies have made the world more connected. With this technological advance and globalization, learning a second language becomes increasingly important. Speaking another language can also increase your chances in the job market and open many doors in academic life.

Many people still think that speaking a second language is only important foe communicating on a trip. But, during college, knowing a foreign language can be a great differential. For there are countless books, articles and academic theses that have not been translated into English. Not to mention that being fluent in another language also opens doors for exchanges and several courses abroad.

Also, speaking two or more languages helps your mind solve problems better.

To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world. – Chinese Proverb

Cultural Growth

Learning is always an opportunity for personal and cultural growth. It is no different with learning a new language. This is because when you learn a second language, you also learn a part of the culture of the speakers of that language. For example, when you study French you also learn the culture and history of France, the customs of the population and their social habits.

Learning a new language is like diving into a new reality.

When you master another language, you can also expand your horizons and read books that have not been published in English, understand the songs without the need for translations and understand the movies and the jokes that only those who master the language can understand.

It is always the right time to learn a new language

In today's world, there are over 7000 languages and learning at least one will help you in life on a massive scale. While it has been proven that it is easier for children to learn a second language, it is never too late to learn, And the benefits are definitely worth the effort and dedication.

Other benefits of learning a second language are:

  • Better at problem solving
  • Easier to make decisions and multitask
  • Better memory and concentration
  • Increased creativity

Whatever your age, speaking two or more languages certainly has its advantages, especially in today's global society.

Language Families

The English you know today was born under the influence of several languages. Many of which are no longer spoken. Considering English as a child, you can say that its parents are the Anglo-Saxons, the Nordics and the Romans.

But who were these people? The Anglo-Saxons were the people who invaded Great Britain and settled there after the departure of the Romans. The Nordics were the peoples of northern Europe and the Romans are the people of the region of the Italian Peninsula.

For this reason, many English words have Anglo-Saxon and Germanic origins. These peoples settled in Great Britain around the 5th century. Many people say that when you speak English it is easier to learn German. And this is true, since the origin of these two languages is the same, both came from Anglo-Saxons and Germanic.

But why, even having the same root, are these languages so different? This is because of the other influences these languages have received. The Celts influenced the formation of English, but not much, because the great marks of the Celtic language remained in Scottish and Irish (Remember in Ireland and Scotland, the primary language spoken is English with its characteristic accents).

Germanic Languages

The North Germanic languages have 29 letters in their alphabet. They have the 26 Latin characters that you recognize as English speakers, as well as three added letters that are the same for Danish and Norwegian. The three extra Swedish letters are only slightly different and once you learn them you will never have to learn them again.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart. ‒ Nelson Mandela

1 Afrikaans

The Afrikaans and Dutch languages belong to the West Germanic branch and include English and German which are two of the most spoken Germanic languages in the world.

Phonetics and pronunciation are similar, so anyone fluent in English can switch to Afrikaans as long as they learn that "g" is more like "jt". It may even be easier than English because it does not use intonation.

Once vocabulary is memorized, it is possible to construct sentences like a Lego tower without conjugating verbs. Yes, that's right, in Afrikaans there is no conjugation of verbs, there is no feminine or masculine gender and there are no pronouns. It is a language that uses a lot of logic.

2 Dutch

The Dutch language is related to Afrikaans and is mutually intelligible. People say that "Dutch is a bridge between English and German" because the language is linked to the West Germanic language family. Despite the similarity the biggest difference between Dutch and English is that Dutch has both female and male genders for nouns. However, Dutch is among the easiest languages to learn for people who already have a command of English.

Scandinavian languages

3. Danish

4. Norwegian

5. Swedish

The Scandinavian languages, including Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, that are very difficult to divide into separate languages. Of the three, however, Norwegian is the easiest to understand for those who already speak the other two; Danes and Swedes in general can understand each other with some difficulty. 

Therefore, they all have the same level of difficulty for English speakers because they are all Germanic languages, and like English, they have all lost the grammatical features that can drive people crazy when they learn German.

Much of the vocabulary will be recognizable with a little reflection and once learned, you will feel very comfortable in the Nordic countries unless you cross the border into Finland, where they speak Finnish.

Romance Languages

All Romance languages are derived from common Latin, or the colloquial form of Latin spoken by the lower classes. The Latin language had its pinnacle during the Roman Empire, and since then it has separated into several dialects.

After the collapse of the Empire around AD 476, these dialects began to take the form of the various languages you know today. 

Romance languages form the most mutually intelligible group of languages, that is, speakers of a Romance language can often understand themselves without any special study or knowledge of these other languages.

Why is this important?

Because there are many Romance languages that share structures with English, and when you have grammatical structures or vocabulary in common, the learning process becomes faster and easier.

6. Spanish

Learning Spanish can be easy for those who already speak English. Spelling is very basic, which means that many words are written as they are pronounced. English and Spanish share some Latin roots, so you will find similarities in vocabulary. 

For people who are English speakers, learning Spanish can be facilitated by natural cultural immersion in the language. You can end up learning a little Spanish through easily accessible Spanish content as well as music and movies, which allow you to learn the language while dancing to reggaeton or while enjoying a good Mexican soap opera.

Even if you are in a country like the UK or Australia where Spanish is not widely spoken, it is a relatively easy language to learn, with relatively few problems of pronunciation and logical spelling.

It is true that Spanish grammar becomes more complicated at higher levels, but the truth is that there are more verbal endings to memorize than difficulties or inconsistency.

7. French

The French language is known as one of the most beautiful languages in the world, French is in the Romance language family and enchants thousands of people, besides being one of the most spoken languages among the continents, which makes it an easy language to learn.

There are several similarities between French and English, mainly in terms of grammar, spelling and verbal conjugation times, and it can be considered the Romance language most similar to English.

Also, French is one of the most accessible Latin languages for native English speakers due to its lexical influence on English during the Norman occupation. According to linguists, up to a third of English was influenced by French.

This makes the French lexicon familiar and easy to understand. Pronunciation and grammar, although not easy, can be overcome by English speakers because of similarities.

8. Italian

Italian is a Romanesque language of the Indo-European family. Thanks to its Latin roots, you will find many similarities with English. The consonants and vowels of this language are among the most common in the world, which makes pronunciation quite easy. The rhythm and intonation of Italian will also be very easy to imitate.

The Italian language is known worldwide for its influence on gastronomy.

Besides Italy, you can find Italian-speaking people in Switzerland, Malta and Argentina, as well as in 25 other countries, thus adding up to a total of 70 to 125 million Italian-speaking people worldwide.

The grammar is very similar to other languages of Latin origin, with fewer irregular verbs when compared to Spanish or French. It is always a good motivation to "study" the language from the menu of Italian restaurants, ordering dishes such as bolognesa, parmegiana, panino, bruschetta, mozzarella, pasta and much more.

9. Portuguese

As an English speaker, especially after learning Spanish, you should be able to master the Portuguese language very quickly. The difficult part to master may be pronunciation, so you will have to train your ear a little. But Portuguese has a good rhythm, which is easy to follow.

The common vocabulary between the two languages will help you to learn quickly. The tip here would be to start learning the Portuguese spoken in Brazil, which besides having a multitude of beautiful songs, movies and soap operas to help you learn, also uses the most simplified grammar of the Portuguese language.

10. Romanian

Romanian may not appear to be an easy language for native English speakers at first, but there is a reason to have it on this list.

Romanian is unique because it is the only Romance language that has developed in the eastern part of Latin Europe, so the language has strong Latin roots, which makes it very similar to English. The Romanian language shares some common words with English, such as "contemporanii" which means contemporary, and "week-end bun" which means good weekend.

3 Great Tips for Studying a Language

Put your goals on paper

Your objectives should incorporate the four language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. The amount of time or effort spent on each varies according to your personal preferences, learning objectives and learning style. But it is a good idea to include them all, as they help reinforce each other. If all you want to do is talk to the people you meet, then writing an essay every day is probably too much, but keeping a journal where you write a few sentences a day will help you a lot.

Challenge yourself, but don't overload yourself

One big mistake many people make when studying a language is trying to learn a lot of things at the same time. Having high goals and wanting to become fluent in a language, or even master it one day.

Besides motivation, consistency is the most important factor in language learning. If your biggest problem is finding time, it is much better to study a little every day than to do marathons a few times a month. For example, if you have only 2 free hours per week to commit to language studies, it is much better to do 20 minutes a day, 6 days a week than to do the whole 2 hours in one day.

Add the things you like

Learn words that you will use in your daily life, learn about the things you like and that arouse your interest. If you are starting from scratch, the first thing you need to do is think about what words you will use more each day in whatever situations you find yourself in. You can make a list of the foods you like, the things you want to do and other daily needs

Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things. ‒ Flora Lewis

Looking for ways to practice? Check out are article on how to find practice partners.

5 Things You Should NOT to do to when learning a second language

Do NOT Translate

One of the most common mistakes in language learning is learning new words by translating them into your mother tongue. After all, it seems to be the most efficient way to do things: all you need is a dictionary of two languages and the translation and definition of each new word is there for you. But this all-in-one method is not a productive way to learn. Not only is the translation of each sentence very difficult, but you do not learn the complexities of the new language.

Do NOT Focus on the mistakes

You have worked hard and learned many things. Don't worry about making mistakes or not having the perfect accent. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.

Don't let the fear of making mistakes stop you from speaking. Remember that it is also very important to celebrate your successes and recognize your progress in the language.

Do NOT focus on grammar

Heavy study of grammar kills the progress of conversation. Put your feet under you and feel comfortable with this new adventure. Do not emphasize grammar until you have mastered the so-called basic skills of listening, repeating and understanding some of the new languages. You began studying grammar at school after becoming a fluent speaker of your native language. Grammar study is for literacy skills at higher levels, not for fluency in conversation in the early stages.

Do NOT Pay low quality professionals

Make sure you have the help of a native speaker or qualified teachers, anything other that will only make you waste your time and money.

Do NOT Forget about the fun

Never forget to have fun! Language learning usually takes time, but it doesn't have to be boring and difficult. Always remember to associate language with your everyday situations and things you like. You will notice that studying a language can be the perfect distraction after a tough day. If you follow these tips and approach language learning with a smile, you will surely succeed!

Good Luck!

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About the author 

Jaimi Saunders

J’aimi has worked in the education industry for over 20 years, gaining experience in teaching, mentoring, and coaching. As a seasoned educator he is passionate about advancing teaching excellence and student motivation. In addition to working in the education industry, he is also involved in continuing his personal education and improvement. Outside of the office, J’aimi enjoys, antique vehicles, motorcycles, and travelling to new destinations.

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