Let’s be honest, learning a language is no small or simple task. However, some are easier to master than others. So what are the easiest languages to learn? For this list, we’ve based “easy” on availability of quality resources, similarity to your native language (for the purposes of this list we will assume you only speak English), and the script the language uses. So if you’re wondering which language to tackle next, check out the these 25 easiest languages you could be learning today.
While Mandarin is one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn, the first several languages on our list are here not because they are fundamentally easy to learn, but rather because the languages are large enough to easily find learning resources.
For example, while Bengali is more closely related to English (they are both Indo-European), it isn’t a global language and therefore not many quality learning materials exist. (The keyword is “quality.”)
Along with Mandarin, Arabic is one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. Go to any bookstore or foreign language section, and you’ll find several methods and resources to tackle this language. Many colleges also offer Arabic classes.
Arabic isn’t the only Semitic language on our list though. Hebrew will be coming along in a bit (#19).
So Farsi is the first Indo-European language on our list. As you can guess, the Indo-European language family is divided into two branches – European and Indo-Iranian. Farsi falls under the second. (It’s spoken in Iran). One cool thing about Farsi is that it uses the Arabic alphabet. So if you’ve studied Arabic at all, it will come in handy here as well.
Although both India and Pakistan like to pretend as though they speak different languages, Urdu and Hindi are about as far apart as American English and Scottish English. There is actually far more linguistic variation in German. Having said that, the main difference is that Urdu uses the Arabic script while Hindi uses the Devanagari script. Also, along with Punjabi and Bengali, Hindustani constitutes most of the “Indo” portion of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.
So now we have switched over to the European branch of the Indo-European language family. To be more specific, BCS is a South Slavic language. Variations of this language are spoken throughout Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. It’s worth noting that BCS is written both in Cyrillic and Latin scripts. This is another thing we considered in making this list…how easy is it to read the language? The faster you can pick up the alphabet, the faster you can learn the language.
Along with Finnish and Estonian, Hungarian is actually a Uralic language. The crazy thing is that Uralic languages aren’t Indo-European. That’s right, Hungarian is farther from English than far-off languages like Bengali, Farsi, and Punjabi. It might as well be Mandarin…and it kind of is. So why does Hungarian rank higher? The big one here is simply the alphabet. Since it uses the Latin script, it’s a bit easier to jump into.
Note: there is a strong argument to made, however, that Hungarian is more complex than even the most obscure Asian languages. So it’s kind of a pick-your-poison situation.
Remember what we said about Hebrew. Well, here it is!
So why would Hebrew rank higher than Arabic? Well, there are two main reasons. First, Arabic has more dialects and can therefore be harder to master. Second, thanks to a relatively widespread English speaking Jewish diaspora, there are more quality Hebrew learning resources available than there are Arabic learning resources.
Although Greek uses its own alphabet, we’re once again safely back within the Indo-European language family, so words and structure will be a bit more familiar. Also, Greek has a solid number of resources available for instruction.
Our second Slavic language on the list, Polish is part of the West Slavic branch of the Slavic language family. Once again, a combination of being Indo-European, having Latin script, and the existence of a decent amount of resources put Polish where it is.
Czech makes up the other major part of the West Slavic language family. Given that the Czech Republic is the most economically dynamic of the few advanced Slavic speaking nations, Czech is the most popular choice for people wanting to visit Central Europe. This means that you should be able to find a decent number of resources. It also uses the Latin script and is extremely phonetic.
Bonus: it is mutually intelligible with Slovak.
Due to sheer size and geopolitical dominance, Russian has plenty of learning resources available. One downside people note is that it uses the Cyrillic script. However, the Cyrillic alphabet is surprisingly easy to learn. It’s also very phonetic. You could learn the alphabet and roughly “read” anything; you’ll just need more work to understand what it is that you’re reading.
Remember how we were saying that German is more linguistically diverse than Hindustani? Well, it’s actually more linguistically diverse than almost any other language. In fact, if any language should be split up…it would be German. It would be borderline impossible for a north German to understand Walser German (from south Switzerland). Although they both fall under the same linguistic umbrella, they are effectively different languages. Having said that, as with Arabic, you should learn Hochdeutsch (high German). The only languages with more resources available are French and Spanish.
So now we’ve reached our first Romance language. You may be thinking, if English is a Germanic language, shouldn’t it be more closely related to German than Romanian? The answer is yes. It is more closely related to German. The thing is though, English is one of the simpler Germanic languages, while German is one of the harder ones (as you now know) so many of the Romance languages are actually easier to learn due to their simpler structure and grammar.
Another Romance language! Portuguese ranks higher than Romanian for the simple fact that it has more pull on the world stage, and therefore, more resources are available to learn it.
There shouldn’t be much of a surprise here. Italian is a popular language among students, so resources abound. It also has straightforward pronunciation which most people are familiar with due to Italy’s strong cultural influence.
The next three are all North Germanic (Scandinavian) languages. There are two more – Icelandic and Faroese – but we won’t include those because so few people speak them. Danish is the first to be mentioned, just because most people claim it is the hardest Scandinavian language to learn.
Norwegian is similar to both Danish and the next language, Swedish. It is considered to be easier (relatively) for English speakers simply because its verb conjugation forms are so straightforward.
Swedish is sometimes considered the easiest of the Scandinavian languages, just because it is the most accessible. (It has the most speakers.)
Apart from French, Spanish is one of the easier non-Germanic languages for English speakers to learn. A major positive is its fairly consistent pronunciation.
This made up language was designed to be easy to learn. Although its usefulness is limited, if you speak an Indo-European language, you should be able to pick this one up to some extent.
French is the closest non-Germanic language to English just because there are so many cognates. Due to geographic proximity, the two languages have been influencing one another for years.
Along with Flemish and Africaans, Dutch is part of the low franconian branch of the west germanic language family. In terms of major world languages, Dutch is probably the most similar to English, at least in terms of phonology (sound). Of course, there are a few new sounds that will give you a run for your money.
English, Scots, and Frisian make up the Anglo-Frisian branch of the West-Germanic language group. This language has the most “English” pronunciation of any language but is relatively useless as far as foreign languages are concerned. It’s only spoken by about 500,000 people in the Netherlands.
Although its status as a language is debatable, Scots is English’s closest relative.
It’s basically a simplified version of Dutch as it doesn’t have any verb or pronoun conjugations.
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25-1. pixabay (public domain)