Easiest Languages To Learn For English Speakers, According To Experts: Top 10 Simplest Tongues To Master

Travel to any country these days and you’ll probably find people all over the place speaking various languages from around the world. It might seem that people who are able to master various tongues are far smarter than the average person, but it turns out learning new languages isn’t especially difficult, if you put the time into it. And there’s all sorts of benefits to being bilingual. So we got to wondering, which are the consensus easiest languages to learn for English speakers, according to the experts out there?

As mentioned, being able to speak another language can actually be quite good for your brain. One study finds that children who learn multiple languages are more likely to have stronger cognitive abilities in adulthood. As the authors explain, an early bilingual is someone who becomes fluent in multiple languages at an early age, perhaps even at the same time they started to learn their native tongue. Late bilinguals, on the other hand, are people who learn another language after they mature. Findings show that once they reach adulthood, early bilinguals are able to shift their attention much faster than late bilinguals. They are also quicker at noticing visual changes.

The benefits of being bilingual extend beyond childhood. In fact, older adults may be protecting their noggins too by taking on another language. Another report concludes that studying a second language can provide a serious cognitive boost for aging minds. Even better, you don’t have to be fluent. The very act of studying a different language is enough to reap the brain benefits.

In our search for the most agreed upon easiest languages to learn, we visited 10 “expert” sites and looked for the most recommended languages. We also took into consideration where these languages ranked on their list. Of course, you may disagree with this completely — and that’s perfectly OK! Let us know which languages you think are the simplest to take on for English speakers in the comments section below.

The List: Easiest Languages To Learn For English Speakers, According To Pros

1. Spanish

“As a native English speaker, you will likely get on well with a language that uses the same alphabet as you. Enter Spanish. The Spanish language is phonetic (meaning the spelling tells you the pronunciation of the word). This makes learning new vocabulary much easier because the letters are ones that you are already familiar with and you can figure out how to pronounce something with relative ease,” says Travel-Lingual.com. “In terms of learning hours, it is thought that it takes you around 575 to 600 hours to learn Spanish to an intermediate level (this is more than enough to converse fluently in the language). However, it will take considerably less time to learn conversational Spanish.”

Jumpspeak.com also ranks Spanish as its easiest language to learn. “As English speakers, we can be thankful that Spanish pronunciations are one of the easiest to learn.Overall, Spanish has a shallow orthographic depth – meaning that most words are written as pronounced. This means that reading and writing in Spanish is a straightforward task,” their list explains.

Adds VerbalCity.com: “Spanish may be the #1 easiest language to learn. Not only does Spanish share the same alphabet – with the sole addition of ñ – but it’s also phonetic. That makes figuring out new vocabulary easy, since the spelling tells you how to pronounce it. Atención: since it’s a Romance language, you can expect lots of cognates to boost your vocabulary too.”

2. French

“As approximately one-third of the modern English language has been influenced by French, it’s considered familiar territory for a native English learner. English has more in common lexically with French than with any other Romance language, meaning an understanding of French vocabulary will come easier than others,” writes Unbabel.com.

“While anyone who has struggled with masculine and feminine or verb conjugations in French might disagree, this is a very easy language for English speakers to learn. And for one important reason – vocabulary,” explains StoryLearning.com. “For nearly 1,000 years, French has heavily influenced the English language. And it’s estimated that almost a third of English vocabulary comes from French, giving you a huge head start when you begin learning it.”

Adds Travel-Lingual.com: As well as looking and sounding similar, there are masses of resources out there to help you learn French, and it is spoken widely around the world. There are dialects of French even here in the States and of course, in Canada. Creole, for example, both Haitian and Louisianan are derived from the French language.

3. Italian

“Like Spanish, many of the words in Italian are written as pronounced. Moreover, the Italian sentence structure is highly rhythmic, with most words ending in vowels. This adds a musicality to the spoken language which makes it fairly simple to understand, and a spunky language to use,” says Jumpspeak.

StoryLearning.com also points to the Romance language of Italian being similar to the first two easy language on our list. “There are very few unfamiliar sounds – the gli sound is probably the hardest – and it’s also written phonetically. So there are few traps once you know the rules,” their post explains. “If anything, Italian tenses are less complicated than in Spanish. And there’s not much other grammar that will cause you any bother. It’s also another very popular language, so there are plenty of resources to help you learn it.”

Berlitz.com sheds some light on how Italian carries over into the English language: “Italian vocabulary is widely used in English, and you’re probably already familiar with more Italian words than you may realise, from those relating to food, such as ‘gelato’ and ‘panini’ to others like ‘diva,’ ‘solo,’ ‘finale’ or ‘fiasco.'”

4. Portuguese

“Portuguese (particularly Brazilian Portuguese) is another language that gives learners the advantage of exposure. Brazilian food, drinks, music and films have been making frequent appearances in global pop culture, giving students of Portuguese plenty of opportunities to enhance their learning,” says Babbel.com.

Travel-Lingual.com also has it ranked as fourth overall on their list. “The word order, syntax, and structure of Portuguese when writing and speaking are similar to English and other Romance languages. This makes it easier to get to grips with if you already have prior knowledge of any of them,” their post notes. “They use nasal sounds which can be a little bit more tricky to master, but given the wide variety of resources out there, it is a modestly easy language to learn.”

Adds StoryLearning.com: “Portuguese is the last of the ‘Big Four’ Romance languages. And like the others, it’s easy for English speakers to learn. Written Portuguese looks similar to Spanish. But when you hear it, some say European Portuguese sounds more like Russian. However, the sounds are not particularly hard to master. And the grammar is no more difficult than in Spanish or Italian.”

5. Dutch

Interestingly, Dutch only appeared on seven of the 10 expert sites we referred to, one less than Portuguese. Yet it ranked first or second easiest language to learn on four of those. “Dutch is one of the most similar Germanic languages to that of English, so it is a great one to learn for native English speakers. There are many similar words and overlaps between the two languages, and many of our favorite English words are derived from the Dutch language,” says Travel-Lingual.com.

Berlitz.com offers some examples: “For instance, words like ‘plastic,’ ‘water’ and ‘lamp’ are identical in both Dutch and English. The most challenging aspect of this language for English speakers will likely be the pronunciation.”

And FluentU.com calls Dutch the easiest of all languages to learn, also pointing to its closeness to English. “Dutch is practically English’s first cousin,” their list explains. “Dutch is full of English cognates—drinken (to drink), kat (cat), week (week), licht (light) and hundreds more. Once you’ve got the fundamentals down, you should be more than ready for basic conversations and children’s books.”

6. Norwegian

“This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language to learn for English speakers. Norwegian is a member of the Germanic family of languages — just like English! This means the languages share quite a bit of vocabulary, such as the seasons vinter and sommer (we’ll let you figure out those translations),” writes Babbel.com. “Another selling point for Norwegian: the grammar is pretty straightforward, with only one form of each verb per tense.”

Berlitz.com says putting sentences together is also fairly easy for English speakers because they are structurally similar. “For the most part, the sentence structure is also quite comparable to English, although not identical. For instance, ‘He comes from Norway’ translates to ‘Han kommer fra Norge,'” they write.

7. Swedish

Appearing in six lists across the sites we used, Swedish only made the top five easy languages to learn list on one of them — Babbel.com. They write: “Our second easiest language to learn also comes from Scandinavia and the Germanic family of languages. One reason Swedish is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn is the large number of cognates the two languages share (cognates are words in different languages that stem from the same ancestral language and look and/or sound very similar to one another). For instance, “grass” is gräs in Swedish — a clear cognate.”

FluentU ranks it fourth overall on their list. “Many native speakers of Swedish can speak English quite fluently,” they say. “Part of this is because Swedish and English are both Germanic languages, so they have similar sentence structures and even some shared vocabulary.”

8. German

“It’s not called the Germanic language family for nothing. English and German overlap quite a bit, especially in nouns. In fact, one linguistic study found that 40% of German words sound similar to their English equivalent,” writes VerbalCity.com, which ranks the language as third easiest to learn. That said, the site does warn that some larger or compound words might quickly turn you away. “To say speed limit in German, it’s this mouthful geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung.”

Jumpspeak notes that German also involves combining words with actions. “For many English speakers, German is a difficult language to pick up. Its long words, four noun case endings, and rough pronunciation gives your tongue quite the workout each time you speak,” their review says. “On the other hand, German can be a fun language to learn and the grammar’s considered to be quite logical, with many overlapping words in English.”

9. Afrikaans

“It is one of the world’s youngest languages and it is spoken by around 8 million speakers in South Africa and Namibia,” says MimicMethod.com. “It is a West Germanic language and most of its vocabulary comes from Dutch, even though there are words borrowed from Portuguese and Malay. As a matter of fact, Afrikaans can be considered to be a simplification of Dutch, having a more regular morphology, grammar and spelling.”

Afrikaans appeared on only six sites we visited, but actually ranks as the simplest language to learn of them all on Unbabel.com. “It’s considered the easiest language for native English to learn, as it shares many Germanic-derived root words with English, which helps with pronunciation, and it has a logical and non-inflected structure, meaning most of its words don’t change based on gender, number, and tense,” their review explains. “Additionally, it only has three tenses: Past, present, and future, so learners don’t have to tackle cases like imperfect, pluperfect, and subjunctive.”

10. Romanian

Appearing on half of the reviews we used, Romanian’s highest ranking came on StoryLearning.com where it was listed as fifth easiest language to learn. “Romanian is closely related to French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. And like its sister languages, it’s not hard to master. It might seem superficially unfamiliar. But once you start studying it, you will soon see how similar to the others it really is,” they write.

“People may not be aware that Romanian is one of the Latin languages because it’s not as popular as the other more commonly learned ones. Phonetically speaking, once you’ve learned how to pronounce the letters of the alphabet you’re pretty much set when it comes to pronouncing words. Unlike English, there aren’t several pronunciations of a singular letter or letter combination. You say what you see,” says FluentU.com.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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