Aloha! Are you wondering what is the easiest language in the world? Since we have so many languages globally, there must be some relatively easy ones, right? If you are looking for a language to learn and wish to start off with one of the easiest (by easy we mean you can probably learn them fast), you’ve come to the right place. This article will offer you some useful information.
First of all, it’s important to note that the difficulty level of these languages can vary from person to person, based on a number of factors like your mother tongue, your previous language learning experiences, your motivation to learn a language, etc.
So in this article, we’ll go through 15 languages that are generally considered easy to learn for English speakers. All of them are classified by FSI as Category I and Category II, which are the easiest groups of languages for English speakers to learn, requiring less than 36 weeks to acquire “Professional Working Proficiency.”
So what are these easiest languages to learn? Let’s see!
Norwegian is spoken by around five million people today, primarily in Norway. In many ways, Norwegian is a language that feels familiar to English speakers. If we think of the language system as a large tree, then English and Norwegian are both fruits of the Germanic family branch. Thus, the two languages share quite a lot of vocabulary.
According FSI, Norwegian grammar is supposedly the easiest for English speakers to learn. Furthermore, English and Norwegian have almost the same word order and sentence structure (SVO), making it easy for you to understand the logic of the language. For example, “There are five members in my family” translates to “Det er fem medlemmer i familien min.” Notice any similarities?
Romanian language is another Romance language quite similar to English. Though less popular than French, Portuguese, and Spanish, Romanian is also quite easy for English speakers to learn.
About 24 million people speak Romanian as their native language. Romanian is the single official language in Romania and Moldova, although in some regions, it shares the official status.
As a result, 63% of the Romanian vocabulary is Romanian, and 11.5% is Slavic. Since many loanwords from the Romanian language group are also present in English, you will feel some familiarity when learning Romanian.
Danish has about six million native speakers, mainly in Denmark. Like their geographical relationship, Danish is closely related to Swedish and Norwegian. English speakers will find Danish also has relatively easy grammar rules and quite a lot of familiar vocabulary.
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, the languages mentioned above are not phonetically interchangeable. However, the writing systems are quite similar. It could be said that if a person is fluent in either language, they can read the other two easily. Thus, the 3 Scandinavian languages are so common can almost be seen as dialects.
Even though FSI considers Danish a category1 language, I would say that Danish is seen as a language that is not easy to understand and learn because of its complex phonology. Many sounds may be weakened or dropped in Danish. Danish was heavily influenced by the Low German language in the Middle Ages and was influenced by English from the 20th century onwards.
Danish verbs are also quite straightforward. Many verbs are conjugated by tense, but there is no change in person or number. For example, the simple present tense of the verb spise (to eat) is spiser, and it doesn’t conjugate whether the subject is in first, second, or third person, singular or plural. This can certainly save you a lot of time when learning Danish.
Thanks to IKEA’s exposure, you’ve probably already heard of some Swedish words, like “hej” meaning hello.
Swedish has about 10 million native speakers, with 9 million in Sweden, and the rest mainly in Finland. Swedish belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic language family and is an East Scandinavian language, along with Danish.
Like Norwegian, Swedish shares a similar word order with English (subject-verb-object) and has pretty simple grammar rules. For example, Swedish conjugation rules are quite simple, with very few changes just like Danish. And there are only two types of nouns in Swedish: common and neuter, with 3/4 of them being common nouns.
The only slightly tricky part in Swedish is probably pronunciation. Swedish has 20 consonants, 9 vowels, and 17 phonemes, which means it has more vowel phonemes on average than any other major language worldwide. So once you’ve mastered its tricky pronunciation, Swedish can be very easy to learn.
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Portuguese is one of the most prevalent languages in the world, with around 230 million people speaking it. It is the second most widely spoken Romance language after Spanish because it spread to the four corners of the world during the colonial period. As a result, Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, and six other countries.
Due to the French and Latin influences on English, Portuguese contains tons of vocabulary that English speakers would immediately recognize, like most Romance languages. Therefore, if you speak English, you should be able to learn to read some Portuguese easily. Moreover, if you know another Romance language, you can probably read a lot of Portuguese even if you haven’t studied it.
Did you know that French is not only the official language of France but also of the other 29 countries, including Canada, Belgium, and various African countries? It’s estimated that there are between 100 and 120 million native French speakers. In addition, there are between 150 and 190 million second-language speakers. French is a vital language of international diplomacy and was once the primary global lingua franca.
The English and French languages have a lot in common. Because a great deal of French vocabulary is of Latin origin, English speakers will certainly notice a number of French words that seem like English words. Furthermore, the word order of French in simple SVO phrases is nearly identical to that of English. It could be said that French is both practical and straightforward for English speakers to learn.
The official language of Spain is Spanish, also known as Castilian Spanish. With about 500 million native speakers and another 100 million who use it as a second language, Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages on the planet. It is very significant for many international organizations as one of the six official languages of the UN and one of the 24 official languages of the EU.
Like Romance languages in general, the Spanish language shares a lot of related vocabulary with English. You can figure out and remember them more quickly if you associate them with the corresponding English words. Another benefit of learning a Romance language for English speakers is that the basic syntax is very similar to English.
Dutch is mainly spoken in Europe, although it is also spoken in a few other parts of the world. It has 25 million native speakers and roughly 30 million speakers in total, including second-language speakers. There’s also a language called Afrikaans which you may have heard of before. Afrikaans is a sublanguage of Dutch prevalent in South Africa and Namibia. It’s worth mentioning that Dutch and Afrikaans are mutually intelligible to some extent.
As an English speaker, you will notice related vocabulary and similar grammar in Dutch if you disregard pronunciation and spelling and simply look at the most basic sentences side-by-side. Occasionally, some sentences in Dutch might be strangely familiar to English speakers. For example:
My name is Paul – Mijn naam is Paul
I am a student – ik ben een student
Italian doesn’t receive as much attention as French, Spanish, or Portuguese because it’s mainly spoken in Europe rather than in former colonies. However, it’s still one of the most widely spoken languages in the world with over 70 million speakers. The majority of its speakers (60 million) live in Italy, but it is also an official language of Switzerland, Vatican City, and San Marino. Furthermore, there are almost 70 thousand people who speak Italian in the U.S.
Italian has had a major cultural impact on the rest of the world. For example, Italian composer’s developed the current system of musical notation. Hence, Italian is a language of art, and learning Italian is like wandering through the streets of Rome and experiencing magnificent classical beauty.
Although German is not classified by FSI as Category I, but as Category II (taking around 36 weeks). Nevertheless, I think it is still easy for English speakers, especially compared to Chinese and Japanese, which are classified as category IV.
With three types of nouns, various verb conjugation forms and extremely strict syntax, German is considered as quite difficult to start with for many people.
However, being in the same language family (Germanic language) with English means German shares a lot of vocabulary with English, making it relatively easy to acquire for English speakers from this perspective. Also, you can see why German people are quite patient when you speak: they are waiting to hear the verb at the end of the sentence.
German is also a very useful language to learn. It is spoken by 95 million native speakers and an additional 11 to 15 million second-language learners, especially in Eastern Europe. What’s more, in both the U.S and Europe, German comes fourth when it comes to the most popular languages to learn. If you are a researcher, knowing some German can also help you a lot because of the many scientific papers documented in German.
At last, we want to say that even if there are some universally “easy” languages to learn, it shouldn’t be your sole factor to consider when choosing which language to learn. There are far more important factors like motivation, which is best maintained by interest in a culture or wish to communicate with someone.
Language learning probably takes more effort than you think no matter which one you choose. But thankfully, with apps like LingoDeer, it’s a lot easier and fun with bite-sized lessons and various exercises. Give it a try today!
Which language(s) are you learning or wish to learn in the future? Leave a comment and let us know!