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10 Easy languages to learn for English speakers

Updated on November 1, 2010

Learning a new language is one of the most satisfying experiences in life, and it definitely changes not only the way you think, but also how you look at the world. Research has proven that learning a new language significantly reduces the risks of aging-related diseases like dementia.

So now that you have made a decision to learn a new language, here is a list of languages that you might chose from, in increasing order of complexity. This list is for native speakers of English. While language complexity is an important factor that affects the time you take to master a language, your interest in it is another important factor too.

  1. Spanish - Simple grammar, several concepts common to English, and most importantly, very easy pronunciation.
  2. French - Shares a lot of vocabulary with English, and basic grammar is easy to grasp, though it has some very complex grammatical constructs. While it is easy to learn to read and write, pronunciation and listening require more time and effort.
  3. Portuguese - French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese are all considered sister languages, as they are derived from the Latin language. Portuguese is rated a little harder because of the phonetics.
  4. Italian - Again, very similar to English. However has an extra gender compared to French and Spanish, leading to a slightly increased time and effort.
  5. Danish/Swedish - The languages though distinct are very similar to each other and hence I compare them together. They are very similar to English in grammatical concepts and vocabulary too. The hardest parts are the pronunciations.
  6. German - English has most of its grammar derived from German. But, that does not mean German grammar is easy. With several constructs and a considerably different vocabulary this language is not as easy as the ones listed above. Pronunciation on the other hand is straight forward and very easy to learn.
  7. Japanese - This is very different from the languages listed above because it is not an Indo-european language. This being the case, it has almost no common vocabulary or grammatical concepts. However, the grammar is very simple and vocabulary too consists of short words often with 2-3 syllables. The hardest part is learning to read/write Japanese as it uses a very different script.
  8. Russian - Despite being an Indo-european language, the number of grammatical constructs and the complexity of forming even the simplest sentences makes this a hard language to learn. The script is different, but very similar to the Latin script.
  9. Arabic - Well, a beautiful language with a beautiful script. But tough and irregular grammar makes it hard to master this language.
  10. Chinese - Being a tonal language and using an iconographic script, this is among the hardest to learn. Go for it only if you are really adventurous and are looking forward to some challenging learning.

There you have it. All the languages I have listed above are popular and will surely be of use to you, in your work/travel.


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    • profile image

      Anna 

      3 years ago

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    • profile image

      Moises 

      3 years ago

      First off I want to ay wonderful bl g! Ihad a quick quieostn which I'd like to ask if you don't mind.I was nterested to know how you cente you s lf and lea your mind before writing.I've had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Many thanks!

    • profile image

      M.E.Simpson 

      5 years ago

      I've actually read many "hardest languages to learn" lists, and most of them list Hungarian and Basque as the most difficult, with Finnish and Russian usually also being in the list. As one who has studied Russian, I can tell you that much about it is very non-intuitive to English speakers. Not only does it require learning Cyrillic, but its extreeeemely complex grammatical system requires serious brain power. There are well over 50 variations of any one adjective or noun (which sound very different from one another to a non-native speaker) due to six grammatical cases, noun declension, three genders, singular and plural noun forms, as well as six ways to conjugate verbs in the present tense and several more for past tense - and all that is just for beginners.... yeah.

    • SotD and Zera profile image

      SotD and Zera 

      6 years ago

      It's really interesting that you list Danish as one of the medium-easy ones. I read somewhere that Danish pronunciation is really tricky- tricky enough that the Danes used certain phrases to identify non-native-speaking spies in WW2. Individual experiences will probably vary, though. I have a way easier time with Japanese than with German (to my German friend's despair).

      Totally in agreement with Chinese being #10, though. I'm bad with pitch, so I really have problems with tonal languages. Anyway, thanks for the list.

      -Zera

    • Bharatthapa profile image

      Bharat Thapa 

      6 years ago from NEW DELHI

      I am learning spanish on my own and i think spanish has much harder and complex grammer than english.

      How? Well basics of spanish makes it similar to english but later the more you progress than more it gets difficult.

      (lo estoy practicando de cuatro meses por mi mismo. dejame verlo)

    • profile image

      Maher 

      7 years ago

      I can fluently speak Arabic, English, German and Turkish

      As you have said Arabic grammar is very hard. Even though it's my native language I still cannot figure out what makes out the grammatical constructs (although I can speak them). Moreover, the formal language is actually dead and is very different from spoken dialects that differ from each other greatly. For example in Formal written Arabic ''this'' is ''Hatha'', in Lebanese ''Hayda'' in Egyptian ''Da'' and in meghrebi ''dyeli?''

    • profile image

      Peter - englisch lernen 

      7 years ago

      Young people should learn more than one language in the school. It is easier to learn a new language when you are young!.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 

      7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Both of us studied French at school, and can just about buy groceries.

      When Pat's son was a University student he studied Spanish as he hoped to work there. By a strange set of events he now lives in the Czech Republic - and has language coaching at least twice a week. However, he does say that it is easier to learn a language when you hear it spoken every day.

      Thanks for an unusual hub.

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