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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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