When you live in a world where cultures are as diverse as the people themselves, there is a need to be versatile enough to fit in anywhere. One way of fitting in easily is to understand some of the most popular languages. After years speaking only your native language, you discover learning a new one is less trivial than expected. Choosing the easiest language to learn depends heavily on your base or native language. In this article, we take a look at some of the easiest languages to learn.
Top 10 Easiest LanguagesTip: This is an interactive chart. You can click to sort languages
|Spanish||2 - Very Easy||1 - Very Easy||2 - Very Easy||3 - Easy||470||Compare Courses|
|English||3 - Easy||3 - Easy||4 - Moderately Easy||3 - Easy||720||Compare Courses|
|Italian||3 - Easy||3 - Easy||3 - Easy||4 - Moderately Easy||85||Compare Courses|
|French||5 - Moderate||5 - Moderate||5 - Moderate||4 - Moderately Easy||260||Compare Courses|
|Hindi||5 - Moderate||3 - Easy||5 - Moderate||7 - Difficult||270||Compare Courses|
|Portuguese||5 - Moderate||5 - Moderate||5 - Moderate||5 - Moderate||220||Compare Courses|
|Arabic||6 - Difficult||8 - Very Difficult||5 - Moderate||8 - Very Difficult||290|
|Chinese||8 - Very Difficult||7 - Difficult||7 - Difficult||8 - Very Difficult||1300||Compare Courses|
|Japanese||8 - Very Difficult||8 - Very Difficult||7 - Difficult||7 - Difficult||130||Compare Courses|
|Korean||9 - The Hardest One||8 - Very Difficult||9 - Very Difficult||9 - Very Difficult||75|
*Data was gathered from various academic and commonly trusted online sources (Wikipedia, academic websites, learning communities, etc.)
- Number of speakers (in million): Refers to the total number of people worldwide that speak this language. Obviously, these results may be subjective. The numbers below include native (L1) and second language (L2) speakers.
- Speaking: This is based on the ease with which learners are able to pick up this language.
- Grammar: Different languages have different grammatical structure, some of which are easy to learn, while others are not. Grammar was chosen as a criterion when ranking a given language as easy, moderately easy, or difficult to acquire.
- Writing: With some languages, learning to speak first and write later makes the journey smoother. Other languages are equally easy to speak and write. This item spells out the easiest languages to write alongside the most difficult. As with speaking, easy, moderately easy, and difficult were used to qualify each language.
- Difficulty: A rating of 1 to 5 was used to reflect the level of difficulty that learners found acquiring a particular language, 1 being easiest and 5 being hardest. Generally, students of languages with a similar origin to their native language found this language easy, as compared to those who had no prior background on a particular language or language of similar origin.
- Learn: These links take you to language-specific comparisons of language learning software and online courses located on www.languagesoftware.net, a review site managed by Laurianne Sumerset (linked with permission).
Before jumping into what makes a given language easy to learn, there are some important points that everyone looking to learn a new language should keep in mind:
Avoid the use of idioms, as they may mean different things depending on a speaker’s background. To make learning easy, sentences that possibly add to the complexity of the language should be avoided, especially in the early stages.
Word-for-word translations don’t often work for many languages, as there are languages that can use one word to express and idea that would be expressed in at least two sentences in another language.
Speaking is your best bet to learning any new language fast. As you go about each day, try to recite the names of some common items. If possible, hold conversations with people who have a good grasp of the language of interest. If you can’t find someone to speak with, hold a monologue – speak to yourself.
When possible, read any articles you can find in the language you are learning and immerse yourself completely in it.
Recommended read: What type of language learner you are?
Information About Languages:
1) Spanish: It is one of the romance languages, covering 22 countries with a minimum of four hundred million speakers worldwide. By many standards, it is very easy to learn as the vocabulary is simple and straightforward. It is also easy to write, as it is entirely based on phonetics, meaning that words are written exactly as they are pronounced. It is as popular as the English language.
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2) English: It is admittedly a very easy language, spoken by millions of people worldwide. The fact that it is readily available everywhere you go has helped in making it one of the most sought after languages. There are at least 600 million people who speak English as a first language and many more who speak it as a second language. It has generally straightforward and forgiving syntax, although phonemes may be difficult to master, creating some spelling speaking and spelling difficulty. Its vocabulary is rooted in French and German, and comprises over four hundred thousand words. It is one of the easiest languages to learn due to its prevalence, and especially because many listeners can tolerate bad English, as long as the speaker is understood.
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3) Italian: This is another romantic language with very easy vocabulary. It is a very rhythmic language that has most of its words ending in vowels. Since its vocabulary is rooted in Latin, it makes it easy for people who speak the Indo-European Latin-influenced languages to learn it. In Italian the verbs follow a recognized pattern, and the few that don’t are so weird the learner is bound to remember them. Another language based on phonetics, spelling remains easy as long as you pick up the basic rules.
4) French: You really don’t have to live in France to speak French, as there are many countries that use French as a first language. If you are one who travels a lot, this is a language worth learning. At least seventy five million people speak French natively, and an additional fifty million who use it in communicating. It has held international acceptance for a while as one of worldwide discourse. It is a fairly difficult language to learn, at least for people who haven’t mastered any of the romance languages. Conjugation can be very confusing for learners but the vocabulary is not hard to grasp. Pronunciation and spelling are also relatively difficult. The French are very sentimental about their language and don’t take too kindly to people speaking poorly, however, if you are recognized as a non-native speaker, the chances of them helping you is quite good. Check out the 6 day trial French course. It’s on your right side, just leave your name and e-mail and you will get the course for FREE.
Related French Articles:
Is French hard to learn? (for English Speakers)
5) Arabic: Arabic is a combination of written and spoken languages. Note, however, that when you set out to study Arabic, your aspirations should be clear. Written Arabic is mostly written, as most of the supposedly Arabic states use a different Arabic dialect in speaking. That said, it is a beautiful language that is spoken in at least 25 different countries, albeit with slight variations. It has a complex vocabulary and grammar. Although the alphabet is relatively easy, putting words together can be difficult without the utility of clear-cut vowels.
6) Hindi: It is one of the most spoken languages in the world, although its writing may seem difficult at first sight. The language is based on Urdu which is an Arabic script. It is widely spoken in India and Pakistan. This language has a lot of complex rules and a very rich vocabulary that can make learning demanding.
7) Portuguese: Portuguese is a language that is spoken by at least 160 million people, mostly in Brazil and Portugal. The motivation for most people to learn Portuguese is for travel and making new friends. Its syntax is very close to that of other romance languages as well as the phonemes. It is also relatively easy to spell except for the silent consonants that may take a bit of time to get used to.
8) Chinese: Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world with at least eight hundred million speakers. As china grows in economic strength every day, it is regarded as the language of the future. It is generally considered a difficult language to learn, with grammar complementary to the English language. The most difficult part of learning this language is getting a grasp of the vocabulary and writing. Writing is entirely memorization, with a preferred stroke order and without an alphabet; pronunciation presents a challenge with four tones to master, and slight variations when certain tone combinations arise. The intensity and variety of dialects may make Mandarin Chinese daunting to early learners, as it can be hard to understand folks from different regions and cities within China and/or Taiwan. Interestingly, conjugation never changes as words are verbs remain practically the same.
9) Japanese: If you are a foreigner dealing with Japanese, you’ll realize that many of them don’t speak any other language and if they do, it’s likely to be English with a heavy accent. That means that learning Japanese gives you an edge when it comes to communicating with Japanese. At least 125 million people speak Japanese, and Japan being a world economy to reckon with, it is necessary to learn some Japanese if you intend to communicate clearly with the locals.
This language is relatively difficult to learn especially due to the way it’s written. It may be easier for people to learn how to speak first. The grammar is not exactly different from English, only arranged differently. People who speak Chinese will do well learning this language as the characters are very similar, however, the Japanese have adopted a phonetic alphabet that doesn’t exist in Chinese.
10) Korean: This is a fairly difficult language to learn but compared to Chinese and Japanese, it’s easy to pronounce. It has a very complex structure for conjugation, with a word having possibly more than five hundred conjugations depending on age, seniority, and level of politeness. Formally, it is a combination of alphabet and Chinese characters, however nowadays, the alphabet takes prominence. The fact that it has some borrowed words from English makes its vocabulary more speakable to foreigners. However, it may be difficult to deal with the non-borrowed words.
General Tips When Learning a New Language
It can be very demanding when you decide to learn a new language. Most people retard their learning speed by being afraid to speak for fear of speaking incorrectly. And yes, it can be frustrating not to have the same facility as your native tongue. However, when you want to learn a new language, the fastest way is to speak – take chances, make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if a language is considered to be among the easiest language in the world. You get better by speaking and practicing. As a learner, you are bound to err, and these mistakes can only be corrected if you speak out. That said, a factor that will aid how fast you master a new language is your own native language. If you speak one of the Indo-European languages, you will probably quickly succeed learning languages that are rooted in Latin. Also, always try to keep an open mind when learning. Be patient and allow your curiosity to run wild. Don’t only depend on one learning method, as different people learn better through different channels. No matter whether a language is easy or difficult to learn, it helps to stay interested and be consistent throughout the learning process. It helps greatly to spend time listening to the new language so you get used to the way words are pronounced and how the natives speak. There are a lot of instructional CDs, along with audio and video files that may help, and also instruction manuals. However, speaking is likely to be the best and fastest way to your goal. Another method that can be helpful, but that most people tend to find boring, is to read and write out the language. This will help to make the learner become fluent in the language. Also of great help is the need to be very clear about why you are learning any particular language. Are you learning for business, for travel, for work, or for day-to-day interactions? Knowing why you want to learn this language will act as a motivating factor, and you can target your practice accordingly.
Best way to learn a language?
The best way is undoubtedly “full immersion”, meaning: travel, talk with locals, just try and go ahead, immerse yourself and don’t cheat talking your mother tongue with the locals (like English, which many are able to speak as a second language nowadays). Besides that – and fully aware of the fact that most of you guys probably don’t have the time for full immersion – there are language learning programs, which mostly come as an online version or a CD/DVD version. One of them, and my personal favorite, is Rocket Languages (check out my review here). Hint: On my review page you can click on your desired language in the first chapter “Product Specifications”. That will take you to a sign-up page for their free 6 days course program. Their lessons are downloadable and work on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices too, which is awesome.