August 1, 2020

Here is a subject that could lead you to ask yourself a lot of questions: what are the easiest languages for a French speaker to learn? First of all I would like us all to ask ourselves a question. What characterizes an "easy" language?

For me, an "easy" language to learn would be a language that has the most similarities to my mother tongue. But is this really the case? There are, however, certain aspects of a language that are systematically (and objectively) complex, but do we really know what an easy language is?

In reality, it will all depend on how you might feel about a language, your way of thinking, your learning methods and many other factors.

In this article, we will see and dissect together what are the 10 easiest languages for a French speaker to learn (from an objective point of view!).

Spanish

Since France shares a (very) large piece of border with our neighbors the Spaniards, I decided to put Spanish at the top of the list. Not because it would be the Romance language closest to French (this is not necessarily true), but because it is the first language that came to mind. French and Spanish share around 75% lexical similarity, which should not be overlooked.

The advantage of Spanish is that it is pronounced as it is written, which is not the case for many languages.

Italian

The closest Romance language to French (89% lexical similarity), Italian would therefore be the "easiest" language to learn based on this criterion. Indeed, the geographical proximity of Gaul to the Roman Empire meant that a large majority of the lexical background of the French language comes from Latin.

It is clear that for a French speaker, it can be very easy to understand simple sentences written in Italian, without necessarily having learned the language.

Portuguese

Portuguese would be for me one of the easiest first languages to learn for a French speaker (another Romance language!). Having kept its Latin roots in common with French, and also very close to Spanish, Portuguese can also be understood quickly in writing by a French speaker.

English

Although the English language has a very different syntax from the French language, it nevertheless remains one of the easiest languages to learn for a French speaker. Indeed, much of the English vocabulary is of French origin, and many words are similar.

One big advantage of English is that nouns have no gender. This will save you a lot of time because you don't have to find out whether the noun is masculine or feminine, nor to match adjectives and past participles!

German

One of the main advantages of German is that it too, is pronounced the way it is read. One of the difficulties would be the three grammatical genders to know: masculine, feminine and neuter. The structure of the syntax can be very different from French, especially if you decide to tackle the grammar of German, but when you are a French speaker with a minimum of English, things will be much simpler for you. !

Dutch

Very close to its cousin, German, Dutch is a "simplified" version of the latter. If you don't have the motivation to try German, Dutch might be the way to go. In addition, geographic proximity is a good point to keep in mind.

This is a good compromise between German, the Scandinavian languages and English.

Romanian

Have you ever thought about it? Romanian is a Romance language, also derived from Latin. This therefore makes it a language "close" to French. At first glance, it might seem like a long time ago, especially if you're just listening. But if you take a closer look at simple written sentences, you might be surprised at how close it is to French.

Swedish

A cousin language of English, Swedish is easier to learn than German. You might get confused at first because of some letters and their pronunciation, but nothing too bad! On the conjugation side, it requires much less effort than German or even Danish. So dare to innovate by choosing Swedish (or even Norwegian), especially if you already have some knowledge of English.

Catalan

Catalan is a Romance language spoken in Spain (especially Catalonia), France, Andorra and even Italy. Indeed, Catalan has an essentially Franco-Italian vocabulary, with a Hispanic side. It’s a subtle mix of French, Spanish and Italian.

Greek

On its own, Greek can seem like a complicated language to learn. But when you analyze all this more closely, it is a language closer to Romance languages than Germanic in some grammatical aspects. Its vocabulary is also easy to master because Greek is in fact the root of a large number of French and English words.

Are you looking for ways to practice? Read our article on how to find native speakers for practice.

Conclusion

It is still important to note that learning a language will depend on different factors concerning the learner. However, in this article, I wanted to underline the objective points on what could characterize a language "easy" to learn for a French speaker.

I hope that this has motivated you well and that you too, after perfecting your French, will decide to explore new horizons.