When you are considering learning a second language, one of your initial questions might be, “Is it easy?” The answer to that is simple: not really. There are no “easy” languages, especially if you are learning a second language. However, there are some that are easier than others. In the end, however, it solely depends on the person, their learning style, and their commitment to learning how to speak in a new tongue.
Take me, for example: a native English speaker who grew up with a hearing Spanish spoken on one side of my family all the time. Naturally, when high came around I decided on Spanish as a foreign language. Why not? It is one of the ten easiest languages to learn! Plus, I hear it all the time! Instead, Spanish for me turned out to be the “Mount Everest” of languages. Sure, I got through it (although I never really started speaking full sentences until college), but it was not easy – not by a long shot. On the other hand, there were plenty of people in my classes who excelled in Spanish, and this was their third language! Again, it all depends. Because the playing field is so varied, we are going to go over some of the easiest languages to learn and how you can go about learning them. Start exercising your language tongue because you are going to need to use it!
Choosing the Right Language
Before you get your list of possible languages that you can choose from, you are going to want to consider certain factors before you take your pick. Here are some things you should think about to help determine which language will be the most beneficial to you:
- Learning: Ask yourself this – how am I going to learn my new language? If you are currently enrolled in school, you definitely have the most options available. Check to see which language classes are offered. If you are not in school, check out some local community colleges to see what they have available. On the other hand, a classroom setting might not be for you. It is important to take into account the type of learning style that you have. You may excel better in some online courses, or at your own pace with a language software program.
- Resources: Learning a new language is tough if you do not have someone to practice with. If you are considering enrolling in a class, finding people to speak with will be easy. However, if you choose to take a class online or on your own, you might have a hard time finding someone to practice with in person. Of course this will not determine everything, but having someone to speak with is helpful to have.
- Interest: It can be hard to learn a new language if you are not also interested in the cultural background of the language. If you have taken a language course before, you would know that a good amount of time is spent studying the habits and culture of the people from the language you are learning about.
- Travel: If you are thinking about traveling to a certain foreign country in the near future, then go ahead and try to pick up their language! Chances are, you are going to want to communicate while you are over there, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get used to their vernacular.
- Career: Think about your career and what language might be helpful for you. For instance, if your company has an office in Tokyo, then consider learning Japanese. Also, if you happen to have a minor in European studies, for instance, go ahead and try out a European language. Knowing a second language always looks good on a resume; especially if it is goes in line with your work!
- Your Heart: Sometimes, despite all other circumstances, there might be one language that you fell you absolutely need to immerse yourself into – and we are all for that! Learning a new language will likely take you over a year to become fluent, so be sure that you are doing it for the right reasons!
Easiest Nine Languages to Learn
Now, let’s take a look at some of the easiest languages to learn! You have nine to choose from, so consider carefully. Keep in mind that they are listed in no specific order!
Afrikaans: You might not hear much about this language in the United States, but its phonetics and pronunciation are very similar to English speakers, and many people who already speak English are very comfortable when learning this language. Like English, Afrikaans is from the West Germanic language family. However, it is not inflective, which means it is a very “logical” language. As long as you are able to memorize vocabulary well, you can build your sentences yourself because there is no conjugation. Here are a few facts about Afrikaans:
- There are no verb conjugations.
- There are no genders.
- There are no pronouns.
- The one thing to watch out for is the “g” is pronounced as a “ch”, like in “Bach”.
Danish: We love pastries! However, that is not the only reason we are advocating this Scandinavian language. Grammatically, Danish is rather simple, as it has only nine verb forms that are familiar to English speakers. Additionally, it carries Germanic-based cognate vocabulary, such as their days of the week. However, the hardest thing about learning to speak Danish is finding someone to practice with. If you have to practice by yourself, remember these things:
- Danish is spoken quickly and softly.
- It is more flat and monotonous than English.
French: Amour, Amour! This love language has Latin derivatives, which makes a lot of its vocabulary familiar to people who speak English. However, French does have 5 more verbs than English (for a total of 17), and it has gendered nouns. At first, pronunciation might be difficult because of the vowel sounds and silent letters, but if you give this language enough love, you will get the hang out it!
Norwegian: This language’s pronunciation is familiar to English speakers because of its “pitch accent” and its stresses on the first of second syllable of a word. Verb forms in Norwegian are easy to learn because there is no conjugation necessary, and past, future, and passive tense are formed by simply adding an “-e”, an auxiliary “vil”, and a “-s” respectively.
Portuguese: Also a Romance language, Portuguese is considered “easy” because of its few prepositions. It’s most attractive feature, however, it that its interrogatives are expressed beautifully and easily. This means that if you can say it in Portuguese, you can ask it, such as “You love me”.
Romanian: Although it sounds like it might be hard because of its Slavic influences, Romanian is actually the closest living language to Latin. As such, it carries a lot of its grammatical structure. There are certain articles attached to the end of nouns, but overall, it is about 80% Latin-based.
Swedish: Another Germanic language, there is some vocabulary in Swedish that is common to English as well. Although there are nine vowels, the language is actually easy to pronounce because of its melodic nature. Also, it has the standard Subject-Verb-Object pattern that English speakers are used to. The verb patterns are also very similar to English. If you need any practice, just go to Ikea!
Italian: The land of pasta! The best thing about this language is its level of readability. In other words, it is written just as it is spelled, and reading can come very fluidly. The language’s structure is fun overall because its words often end with vowels. For instance, “That’s-a my-a house-a”. Also, Italian has less verbs than both French and Spanish. Just go to your nearest pizza parlor for some practice!
Spanish: Of course, I saved my favorite for last! Spanish pronunciation is known to be easy for English speakers, as it has only ten vowels and diphthong sounds. Also, it is very clear and simple to pronounce, which makes reading easy for most people. The best part about Spanish is it is the most popular language on this list, with about 330 million native speakers; you will always have someone to practice with!
Get out and Get Speaking!
As you can see, there are a lot of good choices when it comes from choosing an “easy” language to learn. Just be sure to choose your particular language for the right reasons. While you are considering your options, go ahead and browse Udemy’s online language courses to get a feel for some of the different language you might be interested in. As always, be patient, be persistent, and get ready to be exposed to a whole new world of opportunity, culture, tradition, and delicious food with your new language!