English speakers the world over enjoy the luxury of being fluent in the world’s most international language. No matter where you go in the world, no matter what the predominate language is in the area you are traveling in, English will almost always be the default language to break through those pesky language barriers.
However, many English speakers aren’t content with only knowing how to speak English and are constantly on the lookout for new languages to learn that may help them while traveling, or to simply keep their minds sharp.
Today we are going to take a look at the top 7 easiest languages to learn for English speakers.
1. SpanishAside from being one of the most widespread languages in the world and one of the common second languages, Spanish has been proven to be quite simple for English speakers to learn. One of the easiest things about Spanish is its shallow orthographic depth – or put more simply – words are written like they are pronounced.
English speakers can often forget how our own language is very confusing in the transition from text to speech and back again, due to the English language’s incongruent spelling patters. Learners of Spanish will be delighted to know the language is much easier in that department.
Pronunciation for Spanish tends to be quite straightforward for English speakers too, although they will want to practice rolling their “R’s” correctly, to get the speech down like the locals.
2. FrenchAnother language that is very common – it is taught in schools all over the world – French has had quite a large global influence. Upon learning a bit of French, most English speakers realize how much of our own language has been influenced by French, which in turn makes learning French all that much easier.
French does introduce gender nouns which we don’t have in English (how can the chair and table both have a gender?!?!?!), but French presents itself in a fairly simple manner and is a good stepping stone for language learners looking to eventually tackle languages with more complicated gender nouns.
3. PortugueseGrammatically similar to the other romance languages, Portuguese has become a favorite among language buffs looking for some quick progress. Many habits that English speakers use on a daily basis, such as using an upward inflection at the end of a sentence, can easily turn a statement into a question, meaning it won’t be difficult for English speakers to grasp.
As an added bonus, if you can already speak Spanish, you will find Portuguese to be highly similar, with many of the words being exactly the same. The accent and pronunciation might be slightly different, but if you are already a Spanish speaker then you will find the biggest hurdle – gaining a wide vocabulary – to be mostly a nonissue when learning Portuguese.
Portuguese is spoken not just in Portugal, but also in Brazil which currently has the world’s 6th best economy and growing, so proficiency in Portuguese could easily become a great asset for you.
4. Indonesian/MalayWhile these are two separate and distinct languages, they are closely related, enough so that they can be placed in the same category. The Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) is based off of, then expanded upon from the Malay language (Bahasa Malay).
Visitors to Indonesia and Malaysia often find they are able to gain conversational fluency in just a couple of months due to the language’s relatively easy learning curve. In both languages there are no tenses, past, present or future, and generally no genders used, even when saying words like “he” and “her”, which uses the same word for both genders – “dia”.
The ease of learning both languages is made even more fun by the fact that the people of both countries are generally happy and end even excited when foreigners make an attempt to learn their language. Using a few of the words you know while out to lunch can result in an instant friendship with locals and even an impromptu lesson.
5. AfrikaansWhile it’s name may not suggest it is one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers, there are several things about the language that make it incredibly simple to learn.
The main benefit is the lack of a confusing grammatical structure (think English) with the grammar being very logical. With Afrikaans, there is no need to conjugate verbs, denote gender and the use of pronouns is minimal.
Once you gain a vocabulary in the language, you will find that you can pretty much just start stacking words on top of each other and it will still make sense and be grammatically correct.
6. ItalianBeing another one of the romance languages, it is no surprise how many similarities can be found between Italian and languages like Spanish and Portuguese. Many of the words in Italian are also just variations of English words, usually with a vowel like “a” or “o” added on at the end.
Italian is an especially easy language to read, since like Spanish, it has a shallow orthographic depth. There is also a musical aspect to the language that makes it a joy to hear and even more fun to pronounce yourself.
7. DutchFor English speakers, Dutch will prove to be quite familiar both structurally and syntactically. The vocabulary and pronunciation also mimics English in many ways, although there will be a slight learning curve when trying to perfect your accent.
Being a Germanic language, many of the words should be familiar to those who speak other Germanic languages, and speakers of Indonesian should also recognize many words, due to the previous Dutch colonization of Indonesia.
Those who have struggled to learn German, may find that Dutch is the perfect balance because while it is similar to German, the grammatical system is much less complicated to understand.
While everyone’s mileage and opinion of what is the easiest language to learn for English speakers will differ, most would agree that the above languages are great starting points if you’re looking to pick up a second language. As an English speaker, you are already at a great advantage compared to non-English speakers, but only because non-English speakers the world over have mastered English as a second language.
So which language are you planning on learning next? Also, don’t forget to check out our list of the 10 Hardest languages for English Speakers to learn.