If you have thought about crafting a vigorous self-improvement regime during isolation, you’re definitely not alone. There has never been a better time to learn a language than in a global lockdown, when free language-learning technology is readily available to anybody with a smartphone.
If you have considered a language, you will know that narrowing down which language you want to learn can be daunting. The first step is to decide why you want to learn a language, is it to connect better with family members? To further your career prospects? To travel the world with ease? Each of these outcomes will promote a different answer. While Mandarin Chinese is the most useful business language beside English, Spanish is the most useful travel language.
One way to simplify your choice is to go with the language that will be easiest for you to learn by yourself. This depends primarily on your native tongue.
Are you familiar with the grammatical structure of the language? Will it be exceedingly difficult to manage a new structure? For example, the subject-verb-object structure, instead of saying ‘the red chair’ as in English, you would say ‘the chair red’ as ‘la sedia rossa’ in Italian. That ingrained structure can be difficult to unlearn.
There are also a few objective tests to help you determine the easiest language to learn. Some languages are easy to write, but difficult to speak. Would it be difficult for you to pronounce a rolled ‘R’, a guttural Germanic note or the complex French vowel sounds?
Don’t worry, you don’t need to sort through the world’s 6,500 languages to pinpoint the one that’s right for you. We have done the hard yards in determining three of the easiest languages for the two main language families.
With over 4.6 billion speakers, the two largest language families are Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan. If your native tongue belongs to one of these groups, you will by extension have more success learning another language in that group.
Easiest languages for the Indo-European group
Indo-European languages have 3.26 billion speakers worldwide. Some of these include:
All of these languages (and many, many more falling under the Indo-European language group) stem from a single prehistoric source. If you are a native speaker in this category, you’ll have the best success studying another language from this category. Even better if you speak English and want to learn a Latin-root language like Italian, French or Spanish as 50 percent of English words stem from either Latin or French.
According to language experts, these are the overall easiest languages for English speakers to learn:
If you have ever wanted to stroll through IKEA and understand every furniture label, you’re in luck. Scandinavian languages have the closest similarity to English word order. As the popular language app Babbel writes, 'Can you help me?' translates to 'Kan du hjelpe meg?'.
Simple grammar structure, Latin root, easy pronunciation from an English native tongue - check. Spanish is also incredibly useful for avid travellers as it’s found throughout Latin America, Mexico, the United States and of course, Spain!
Dutch is a simple language to learn from Indo-European starting point as it has the highest number of words spelled the same as English words. The only thing to watch out for is pronunciation.
Easiest languages for the Sino-Tibetan group
Sino-Tibetan languages are the second largest language group. Main languages include:.
If you are a native speaker of or have learned Mandarin, you will find it easier to learn these ‘linguistic neighbour’ languages by yourself:
Korean draws 60% of it’s vocabulary from Chinese language. It can be confronting at first when learning how to view three ‘letters’ in one letter block but once you get the hang of it, Korean is simple.
Japanese is another language that is influenced considerably by Chinese languages. Japanese has the added benefit of kanji, a logographic writing system adopted from Traditional Chinese.
Malay is spoken by 270 million people around the world, it has no grammatical categories for number, tense or gender. No need to split words into masculine or feminine camps and certainly no need to go into the pesky details of past, present and future tense. Each word is simply interpreted based on context.
Have you found the perfect easy language for your native tongue? Let us know!