What is the easiest language to learn?
It’s a question many people ask me. Many people want to know what the easiest language to learn is before they start learning their first foreign language. Other people may be wondering what the easiest language to learn is when choosing their second or third foreign language.
It’s a very important question. But it’s also a very difficult one to answer. Let’s have a go at answering it, though – shall we?
Before we do that, though, I just want to let you know that if you prefer, you can watch the video below instead of reading the post if you’d like to find out what the easiest language to learn is.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the 5-Minute Language Youtube channel as well, to make sure you don’t miss similar videos in the future!
If you’d rather read the post than watch the video, here we go!
Learning foreign languages is not easy
Let’s get some misconceptions cleared up first. Learning a foreign language is not easy. It requires a lot of work and commitment. You need to keep yourself motivated during the process and you need to try out different techniques before you find the one that works for you.
You may find, however, that learning some languages seems more straightforward, or ‘easy’. Note that I put ‘easy’ in inverted commas…
What makes a language seem ‘easy’ to learn?
My main message for you in this post is that difficulty and ease are relative. So, if you ask me what the easiest language or languages are, I’m going to refer to relative ease in my answer.
Whether or not you will find a language to be ‘easy’ will depend on a number of factors. It will depend on:
– What your native language is
– What other languages you know
– What your learning style is and how you like to learn
– How much internal and external motivation you have to learn the language
– How similar the language is to your native language
– The complexity of the sound system in the language you’re learning, and
– The complexity of its grammar
I could tell you for example that Russian is an easy language. But then, I can speak Polish, which is quite similar to Russian so it would be relatively easier for me.
For you, if you’re a native speaker of English or Japanese, it will potentially seem like a very difficult language.
Similarly, I could say that Italian is a difficult language because it shares very little vocabulary with Polish, but you could tell me it’s easy because your native language is Spanish, and Spanish does share a lot of vocabulary with Italian.
See? There are quite a lot of factors at play when trying to answer the question of ‘what is the easiest language to learn’!
So what is the easiest language to learn?
To make things a little bit more straightforward, let’s talk about what the ‘easiest’ language to learn would be for somebody who already speaks English.
You’re reading this post in English, which means you’re either a native English speaker or you can speak English quite well.
There have been a couple of studies into this recently where researchers scored languages for difficulty based on how easy or difficult it would be for English speakers to learn them. Or, in other words, how quickly on average English speakers would be able to learn them.
Based on the scores, the ‘easiest’ languages were Romance and Germanic languages, including:
These languages take English speakers the least time to learn. It’s because of their similarity to English. They share a lot of vocabulary with English, their grammar is pretty similar, and their sounds are fairly similar to the sounds that exist in English.
Other languages don’t have as much in common with English linguistically or culturally. For example: Polish, Czech, Turkish or Vietnamese.
There are also languages that use a completely different script and structure such as Japanese or Arabic. These languages are likely to take English speakers longer to learn.
Familiar languages will be easier to learn
So, the bottom line is, the easiest language to learn will be the one that shares something with either your native language or another language you already know – vocabulary, sentence structure or grammar.
And, learning a language is not easy so don’t get me wrong! It’s definitely possible, though. And you can do it, as long as you commit to it and find a way to motivate yourself.