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Top 10 Easiest Languages to Learn

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Sophie Breuleux.

There are a million reasons why you should learn a new language. But how hard is it to pick up a second language? Well, some languages are easier than others for native English-speakers to learn. Whether it’s a Romance language like Portuguese, a West Germanic language like Dutch or a constructed language like Esperanto, these dialects are more straightforward for Anglophones to grasp. WatchMojo counts down ten languages that are quick for English speakers to pick up.

Special thanks to our users MikeMJPMUNCH, CoreyMcc11, governmentfree, c64audio, Joshua Philip, Otavio Fornaciari Fraga, Alpha Creature, governmentfree and Freelancer353 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Easiest%20Languages%20to%20Learn

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Transcript
Script written by Sophie Breuleux.

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English-Speakers to Learn


Whether it’s to settle in another country, expand your mind or impress the new girl in accounting, there are a million reasons why you should learn a second language. Now if you’re wondering which one, you came to the right place. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 easiest languages to learn.

For this list, we’re focusing on real spoken languages that are relatively easy for native English speakers to pick up as a second or third language. Sorry, Klingons, but you’re left out today.

#10: Norwegian

The first of a few Scandinavian languages to make this list, Norwegian is one of many languages whose word order and ways to pronounce words may be familiar to English speakers. Plus, verbs are a snap: you don’t even have to conjugate them based on person or number, and conjugating for tenses usually only means adding one letter! Put that all together and that means this North Germanic language is relatively simple for Anglophones to pick up. Though it began as Old Norse in roughly the 8th century, Modern Norwegian dates back to the 16th century, and today roughly 5 million people across the world speak it. Just think of all the new friends you could make if you spoke norsk!

#9: Swedish

No, not that kind of Swedish! Spoken in Sweden, parts of Finland and probably by some overzealous Ikea employees, Swedish actually shares some characteristics with English: both are Germanic languages, both have two genders and both use a similar Subject-Verb-Object syntax. What’s more, both languages share many similar words, like “absurd,” “December” and “orange.” What is different about Swedish is its use of a pitch accent, meaning you can differentiate between different words based on the tone or pitch in which they’re spoken – which makes it sound kinda singsong-y. Okay, the pronunciation can be kinda tough, but even so it’s estimated by some that it’d only take an English speaker about 24 weeks, or 600 hours, to learn Swedish.

#8: German

Admittedly, German sounds pretty intense, but thankfully, it’s not as hard as it seems. Like most of the languages on this list, German uses the same alphabet as English. Both languages also use comparable stress and intonation patterns, and share a number of vocabulary words. If you’ve ever ordered a pretzel or a bratwurst from a delicatessen, you’ve already got a few German words in your arsenal! One thing that might pose a problem, however, is the grammar – especially word genders: for example, a spoon is masculine, a fork is feminine, and a knife is neutral. There doesn’t seem to be any logic to it, but you’ll probably forget once you get to Oktoberfest anyway.

#7: Dutch

Sort of a midway point between English and German, this West Germanic language is both structurally and syntactically familiar to English speakers. In fact, it’s been said that learning Dutch is like learning German, only easier. There will be some sounds in Dutch that English speakers will find difficult to wrap their mouths around, but the fact that there are so many relatively similar words in English and Dutch makes up for that. For example, in Dutch, “day” becomes “dag,” “world” becomes “wereld,” and so on. That’s not so hard, is it? Now get on a plane to Amsterdam, and explore the wereld to-dag!

#6: Afrikaans

Used mainly in South Africa and Namibia, Afrikaans is spoken by an estimated 15-23 million people around the world. It’s actually a descendant of the Dutch language, with roughly 90-95 percent of its vocabulary coming from Dutch. However, all things considered, Afrikaans is a simpler language than either Dutch or English: there are no verb conjugations, like speak, spoke and spoken, or noun genders as in a language like French, and its sentence structure is relatively logical. So, once you have a few words memorized, you’ll be able to start building sentences in no time! Good luck (or geluk)!

#5: Esperanto

Created in 1887 by Polish Doctor L. L. Zamenhof, Esperanto was intended to be a bridge between people of different nations, cultures and native languages. The idea was that this constructed language could easily be learned and spoken around the globe, enabling people to communicate through a neutral tongue. And, it really is simple: the spelling is intuitive and the grammar rules are a breeze, since it was planned without irregularities. Today, it’s spoken by about two million people worldwide to varying degrees, and aside from being easy to learn, it’s also been shown that learning Esperanto makes it easier to learn a third language. So, if you’re interested in expanding your vocabulary significantly, Esperanto is a good start!

#4: Portuguese

It was called “the sweet and gracious language” by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes – well, that’s a ringing endorsement! This Romance language is already spoken by over 250 million people in the world, and – alongside Spanish – has been pegged as the fastest-growing European language after English, according to UNESCO data. One easy thing about Portuguese is the fact that if you can say something, you can ask it as a question – all you have to do is change your intonation: for example, “we’re here” becomes “we’re here?” Plus, its close relationship to Spanish means that learning Portuguese would give you a leg up to learn it as a third language. Win-win!

#3: French

Français: la langue d’amour – or the language of love if you don’t speak it yet! Spoken by 220 million people worldwide, this romantic romance language has a lot in common with English; in fact, according to some experts, almost half of all English words – or roughly 80,000 words – have their roots in French. This is a result of the Norman Conquest of 1066, when William the Conqueror of Normandy invaded and became the first Norman King of England. So, today, French is quite familiar to Anglophones, and therefore easier to learn. Yes, you’ll have to power through the grammar, phrase structure, word genders and weird accents, but isn’t it worth it? French just has that certain je ne sais quoi.

#2: Italian

Bellissimo! Arguably the second language of love, Italian has this melodic quality to it you can’t help but fall in love with. Compared to English, Italian verbs can seem a little more complex, but don’t worry: there are some words in common to help you out – minute and minuto, paradise and paradise, impossible and impossibile, and many more! The fact that the Italian alphabet only has 21 letters to the English alphabet’s 26 makes the language that much easier to master, as well, with the letters J, K, W, X and Y only being used in imported words and names. And don’t forget: you also have to learn the hand gestures!

#1: Spanish

One of the Iberian Romance languages, this Latin-based tongue is spoken by almost 600 million people worldwide, and is recognized as an official language in more than 20 countries. With so many people speaking Spanish, it makes for a very appealing option when it comes to choosing a second or third language, because you’ll be able to communicate with that many more people. What’s more, it’s also fairly easy for Anglophones to learn, as about 30-40 percent of English words have a similarly spelled and pronounced Spanish equivalent that means the same thing – like family and familia. So what are you waiting for? You probably learned some in high school, so brush up – it’ll be no problema.
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