Learning a new language may lead to a plethora of new experiences and opportunities, ranging from meeting new people and learning about different cultures to furthering your profession and studying and working overseas.
But, with so many languages to pick from, how can you know which one to devote your time to learning?
Despite the fact that each foreign language presents its own set of hurdles, fluent English speakers will find that some languages are just easier to learn.
Why? Languages with a close relationship to English share some aspects and characteristics that make them easier to learn for English speakers. Sentence structure, vocabulary, tones and sounds, and writing system are all examples of this.
As a result, the ease with which you can learn a language will be determined not only by the language itself, but also by the languages in which you are already fluent or at least familiar.
Remember that the length of time it takes you to learn a language is determined by a variety of factors.
Do you want to discover which languages have the best potential of becoming second nature to you?
Here are 15 of the most simple languages to learn for English speakers. You can, however, use this as a broad guide. We ranked them from easiest to slightly more difficult using data from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI).
1. The Frisian language
Frisian is regarded to be one of the most closely related languages to English, making it one of the easiest to learn for English speakers. Frisian was originally the primary language of what was known as Frisia during the Middle Ages. Although Frisia no longer exists, areas of the Netherlands and Germany still speak Frisian, which is made up of three dialects.
In terms of sentence form and vocabulary, English and Frisian are very similar. “Good morning,” for example, is translated as “Goeie moarn” in West Frisian.
Unfortunately, with just about 500,000 people speaking and understanding Frisian, there’s little motivation to learn it unless you plan to relocate to the Dutch province of Friesland or Germany’s Saterland or North Frisia areas.
Dutch is closely linked to English, as is Frisian. It has a lot in common with English, notably in terms of vocabulary. Words like “plastic,” “water,” and “light” are, for example, equivalent in both Dutch and English. The pronunciation will most likely be the most difficult component of this language for English speakers.
Flemish, the dialect spoken in the Flanders region of Belgium, is actually identical to Dutch. Even if there are certain differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, and idioms, Dutch speakers can understand Flemish and vice versa.
Dutch is spoken by over 24 million people globally, and it is worthwhile to learn if you intend to live and work in the Netherlands or one of the other nations where it is an official language, such as Suriname, Aruba, or the Dutch Antilles.
Norwegian, or “Norsk,” is a Germanic language like English, making it easier to learn for English speakers. It has a lot of terminology in common with English, and unlike some Germanic languages, most Norwegian words are simple to pronounce.
The sentence structure is, for the most part, similar to that of English, though not identical. “He comes from Norway,” for example, is “Han kommer fra Norge.”
Norwegian is spoken by around 5 million people, the majority of whom live in Norway. It can be an interesting language to study because of its Old Norse roots, and knowing Norwegian can provide you more access to the country’s rich literary culture and mythology.
Despite the fact that Spanish is a Romance language rather than a Germanic language, it is very straightforward to learn for English speakers because many English terms have Latin roots. The Spanish alphabet is the same as the English alphabet, and many words are pronounced exactly as they are written.
Another advantage of Spanish for English speakers is that the sentence structure is not only similar to English, but it is also less rigorous, which means that a sentence can be constructed in a variety of ways.
Learning Spanish online is an excellent option if you want to improve your travel experiences and increase your employment. It has over 534 million speakers all over the world, making it one of the most frequently spoken languages on the planet.
Around 234 million people speak Portuguese around the world. It is the official language of Portugal and Brazil, as well as six African countries, including Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique, making it a very useful second language.
Portuguese, like Spanish, is based on Latin and uses the same alphabet as English, giving English speakers a modest advantage when learning the language.
One thing to keep in mind is that European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese have some notable characteristics. In fact, depending on whatever sort of Portuguese you are studying, everything from pronunciation to vocabulary may differ. Of course, the one you should concentrate on is determined by where and how you intend to use it.
Italian is another Romance language that English speakers may learn quite quickly. In reality, Italian vocabulary is extensively utilized in English, and you’re probably already familiar with more Italian phrases than you realize, ranging from food-related terms like “gelato” and “panini” to more general terms like “diva,” “solo,” “finale,” and “fiasco.”
In most circumstances, Italian and English have a similar phrase structure, and the pronunciation is reasonable. Once you’ve learnt a few basic rules, you’ll be able to read and pronounce most words correctly.
Although it is not as extensively spoken as Spanish or Portuguese, Italian is still spoken in numerous countries outside of Italy, including Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, and even Argentina.
With about 77 million first-language speakers and 203 million second-language speakers, French is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Seychelles, and Rwanda are among the 29 nations that speak it as their official language.
Due to its slightly more difficult pronunciation than other Romance languages such as Spanish and Italian, French can be a little more difficult to learn. “Et tois?” for example. (And you?) is pronounced “Ay twah,” and “Pouvez-vous?” is pronounced “Pouvez-vous?” (Are you able to?) is pronounced “Poo vay voo.”
Despite this, French and English have a lot in common, especially when it comes to vocabulary. This means that once English speakers have had the opportunity to understand some basic rules, they can usually pick it up quickly.
Swedish is spoken by around ten million people, the most of whom live in Sweden, although a small minority also lives in Finland, where Swedish is also a national language.
Because it is a Germanic language, Swedish is relatively easy to learn for English speakers. Swedish grammatical rules and sentence construction are not unduly hard, despite the fact that pronunciation takes some time to perfect.
Of course, there are also more difficult parts of learning this Scandinavian language, such as getting used to the three extra vowels. You’ll also need to learn new compound words like “jordnötter,” which means “dirt nuts,” or “kofngare,” which means “bumper” but means “cow catcher.”
You might be surprised to learn that Romanian is on this list. Despite the fact that Romania is surrounded by Slavic-speaking countries, Romanian is a Romance language that shares a lot of vocabulary with Italian, Spanish, and French.
For instance, the goodbye phrase “La revedere” is similar to the Italian “Arrividerci,” while the apology “Scuză-mă” is comparable to the French “Excusez-moi.” It’s also a phonetic language, which means that most words are spelled exactly as they’re said.
Of course, this language has some more difficult characteristics, such as grammatical peculiarities and letters with “diacritics.” However, Romanian is a surprisingly simple language to learn. It is spoken by around 30 million people, mostly in Romania and Moldova.
Danish is a Germanic language that is spoken by around 6 million people, the majority of whom reside in Denmark. It has similar grammar principles to Norwegian and Swedish, as well as a large vocabulary that will be familiar to English speakers.
“Gode tidende,” for example, sounds a lot like “Good tidings,” while the term “dyre,” which meaning “expensive,” sounds a lot like “dear,” which is used in English to describe anything that is excessively expensive. Danish, on the other hand, isn’t the simplest Scandinavian language to learn due to its more difficult pronunciation.
Even so, learning the local language is the greatest approach to fully immerse yourself in the country’s distinct culture and build deeper ties if you plan to stay in Denmark for an extended amount of time.
German is a Germanic language, as the name implies. It has several features in common with English, including as a similar alphabet, sentence structure, and vocabulary. Everyday German words like “Wasser,” (water), “Apfel,” (apple), and “Fisch,” (fish) are extremely similar to their English counterparts.
Pronunciation is one part of German that English speakers struggle with, especially when it comes to lengthier compound terms like “Fremdschämen” (cringe) or “Verschlimmbessern” (improve) (to worsen or exacerbate).
While German may not be as easy to learn as Dutch or Norwegian for English speakers, it is a very useful language to learn because it is spoken by over 100 million people in Central Europe, including Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.
With about 40 million native speakers and more than 150 million non-native speakers, Indonesian is one of the world’s most commonly spoken languages. Although Indonesian differs significantly from the Germanic and Romance languages on this list as an Austronesian language, it is surprisingly simple to learn for English speakers.
This is due in part to the fact that Indonesian is a phonetic language, meaning words are spelled in the same way they sound. The form of Indonesian sentences is similar to that of English, and its grammatical rules are straightforward.
For example, all you have to do to make a singular word plural is repeat it or add an extra one. So “anak” means “kid,” and “children” means “anak-anak.” Isn’t it simple?
Malay is a Southeast Asian language spoken by around 200 million people. It’s an Austronesian language, like Indonesian. Because a comparable variation of the language is used in Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore, it bears many similarities with Indonesian.
However, while Malay and Indonesian speakers can generally communicate, there are notable discrepancies in spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary, with Malay relying more on English loanwords and Indonesian relying more on Dutch loanwords.
Malay is usually regarded as one of the easiest Asian languages to learn due to its basic grammar rules and easy pronunciation. Of course, there will be a lot of new terminology to learn, as with any language, but if you need to spend any time in Southeast Asia, it’s a great second language to know.
Swahili is a Bantu language that is widely spoken in East Africa, including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. It is a useful second language to have. Swahili is spoken as a first language by roughly 16 million people and as a second language by up to 80 million people, according to various estimates.
Indeed, if you’ve seen the Disney classic “The Lion King,” you’ll recognize a lot of Swahili phrases like “rafiki” (friend) and “simba” (lion) (lion). “ Most Swahili words are simple to pronounce, and many are extremely similar to their English counterparts. “Polisi” means “police,” and “baiskeli” means “bicycle.”
Of course, there are some major distinctions, but if you’re trying to learn one or more African languages, Swahili is a great place to start.
Tagalog is a Filipino language.
Filipino Tagalog is an Austronesian language and one of the Philippines’ official languages. On the one hand, it’s not a difficult language to learn because the pronunciation is simple and most of the vocabulary is borrowed from other languages such as English, Spanish, and Malay.
Tagalog, on the other hand, has a sentence structure and verb concentration that is considerably different from English, making it the most difficult language on this list. However, as with many foreign languages, obtaining some practice is typically all that is required.
With roughly 45 million people using Tagalog as a native language, learning it, or at least some of the essentials, will make your stay in the Philippines a lot easier.
So there you have it: the 15 simplest languages to learn for English speakers. Why not have a look at some of Berlitz’s language courses if you’re thinking about learning a new language?
Are you looking for something a little more tough because this one is a little too easy for you? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our list of the top 15 most difficult languages for English speakers.