What makes a foreign language easy to learn?
Did you know that there are nearly 7,000 languages spoken thoughout the world? The ability to speak a foreign languagecan be very useful — for business, travel, or education. Not all languages are equal, however. Some languages are very common, while others are obscure or limited to only one region. If you already know that you want to travel to a specific area, it obivously makes sense to study the language spoken there.
But, what if you haven’t yet decided which language to learn? What are the easiest languages to learn?
The easiest language to learn is one similar to your native language. Why? The human brain is very good at noticing patterns and similarities. When learning new things, your mind likes to connect similar ideas. You can use this to your advantage, and choose a second language that is related to what you already know.
Language experts split the world’s languages into three groups. Category 1 Languages are the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Category 2 Languages are somewhat more difficult, and may take more time to learn. Category 3 Languagesare the most difficult, because they have very little in common with English.
Afrikaans is possibly the easiest language to learn for English speakers. Why? It is a West Germanic-based language, which means that it is in the same language family as English. Many Afrikaans words are recognizable to English listeners. Examples? “Indeks” means “index.” “Bakker” means “baker.”
The grammar is very simple and logical. Unlike other languages such as English or Spanish, Afrikaans doesn’t conjugate verbs. So what’s the catch? Well, Afrikaans is mainly spoken in Africa,which is not on most tourist vacation lists. If you’re interested in adding an easy language to your list or visiting Africa, however, Afrikaans is a great way to start. Read more about Afrikaans here.
Considering that Afrikaans evolved from Dutch, it’s no surprise that this language is high on the list. The structure of Dutch is very similar to English. As with Afrikaans, many Dutch words are instantly recognizable to English speakers.
Dutch is spoken primarily in The Netherlands, as well as several islands in the Caribbean. Around 28 million people speak Dutch throughout the world. More Dutch language info is here.
Of the five languages on this list, Spanish is arguably the most useful. It is spoken by an impressive500 million people throughout the world, including a large percentage of the United States. If you are fluent in English and Spanish, you have a sizeable chunk of North and South America covered — plus Spain, of course!
In addition to being useful, Spanish is also relatively easy to learn. Words are usually written the same way they are pronounced, and you can often correctly guess at the meaning of a word. Modern English borrows many words from Spanish and Latin, so Spanish feels somewhat familiar. Read more Spanish details here.
Parlez-vous français? Around 220 million people speak French throughout the world. Of all the Romance languages, French is the most similar to English. This makes it fairly easy to learn. There are literally hundreds of French words that sound similar to English, such as “colour” and many others.
The French language is widely spoken in many different areas of the world, making it a smart choice for travellers. It is, of course, the native language of France — and it is also common in other areas of Europe, along with parts of Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean. More French information is here.
Ah, Italian. Like Spanish and French, Italian is a Romance language and is somewhat familiar to English speakers. Around 85 million people speak Italian. Most of these speakers are in Italy, but Italian is also spoken by people in Switzerland, Croatia, and other countries.
Italian is generally more simple than English. The Italian alphabet has only 21 letters, compared to the 26 of English. The language is also rhythmic, which makes it easy to speak and listen to. More Italian information is here.