10 Languages that are Easiest for Native English Speakers to Learn

Languages are ranked according to the level of difficulty, and to say which ones are easiest for native English speakers to learn is subjective. It usually depends on the person learning the language, but according to the ranking made by Foreign Service Institute, here are the top 10 languages that are closest to English and therefore the easiest for native English speakers to learn.

 1.       Afrikaans

Surprisingly, Afrikaans ranked the first in the list. It used to be a dialect of Dutch until it evolved into a language of its own. It is the language spoken in some African countries including Namibia and South Africa. The simple grammatical structure and the absence of noun conjugations and genders, and the fact that it has only three tenses –past, present, and future, made it the easiest language for native English speakers to learn. Vocabulary and pronunciation are easy, thanks to its Germanic roots. However, the intonation might take some getting used to.

 2.       Dutch

Dutch is a West Germanic language and closely related to Afrikaans that learning one makes it easier to learn the other one. Although it uses gender on nouns and some complex vowel sounds, it’s still an easy language for English speakers to learn.

 3.       Danish

In this list, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish is all Scandinavian languages, also known as North Germanic languages. All three are mutually intelligible and very similar to each other that learning one makes it easier to learn the other two. Danish is spoken by six million people around the world and is relatively easy to learn. It has only nine verb forms and most words are similar to English.

 4.       French

Although French seems to be an extremely difficult language to learn for a Native English Speaker, because of some of its grammatical difficulties, including nouns with genders and multiple verb forms.  Pronunciation can also be especially challenging for how foreign it sounds to English because of its silent letters and variety of vowel sounds.

Nevertheless, French is one of the easiest languages for English native speakers to learn because it was derived from Latin and its lexical influence to English than other romance languages. According to linguists, it influenced up to one-third of English vocabulary.

 5.       Italian

Italian is another romance language. It is written as it spelled, which is great in terms of readability.

Italian words usually end in vowels, which makes it enjoyable to hear and pronounce. In terms of grammar, gendered nouns, and word order follows typical Romance structure.

One advantage of Italian over other romance languages is that it has fewer verb forms than French or Spanish.

 6.       Norwegian

This Scandinavian language is easy to learn due to its similarity in word order, syntax and simple verb conjugation. Its pronunciation is consistent.

 7.       Portuguese

Portuguese is similar to other Romance languages in terms of grammar. Prepositions in Portuguese are fewer than in English. However, it is a bit challenging and easy for English speakers to mix up because their uses are different than in English.

Pronunciation is easy for English speakers to learn, though it would need some practice to pronounce some nasal vowel sounds. Questions or interrogatives can easily be identified by intonation.    

 8.       Romanian

Romanian has preserved a lot of Latin’s grammatical structure because it is the closest living language to Latin. It may seem like it’s the most unpopular one out of the other 9 in this list, but there are around 26 million native Romanian speakers in the world.

 Articles are a bit of a puzzle in Romanian, with definite articles attached as a suffix to the end of nouns, while indefinite articles appear before nouns. Once you’ve learned how to pronounce the letters of the alphabet, it’ll be easier to pronounce the words. It’s usually spoken the way it is written.

 9.       Spanish

Spanish is somewhat a mandatory language to learn in America because the Latino community is the largest immigrant community in the country. Spanish is definitely not the easiest language to learn in terms of grammar structure. Its verb conjugation, gender and other irregularities in grammar can be a bit confusing.

Pronunciation is also challenging as native English speaker will find it hard to pronounce the rolling ‘r’ and.’ Pronunciation also changes depending on the dialect. There is Argentinean Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Chilean Spanish, and Spanish from Spain.

 10.   Swedish

Swedish is the most spoken of the North Germanic languages because of the similarity in syntax and vocabulary to English, which makes it rather easy to learn. Both languages share many cognates, and the word order structure and verb conjugations of Swedish language follow similar grammatical rules as those of English.

 

English is a Germanic language that is a part of Indo-European languages. This explains why most of the languages listed above are European languages. All of these languages belong to category 1, which is the easiest to learn, and would only take 575-600 hours for native English speakers to reach proficiency.

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