Nothing can beat the gains of learning a new language: you’ll be able to communicate with people from various countries and get drawn into new adventures.
To help you pick the next language to learn, here are the six easiest languages for native English speakers to learn. Tackling one of them will help you cross one resolution off your bucket list!
Learning a new language may feel daunting at first, just like all new beginnings in life. You may be wondering which language to choose and the most efficient ways to learn it. But the thing is, millions of native English speakers have had the same concerns and many of them have learned countless languages faster than they expected!
Here are the six easiest languages for English speakers to learn:
First, let’s give you a motivational boost and start with how learning a new language can change your life more than you’d expect – because it will!
The benefits of learning a new language
Today, the world is more interconnected than ever, and communication is not a preference but a solid need.
Whether you are aiming to advance in your career or planning to visit a foreign country for your summer holiday, there are countless benefits to learning a new language.
Communicating and engaging with other cultures
Imagine you are in Mallorca chatting with a local and they tell you about secret places to visit that are not listed among the “Top 10 things you must see in Spain” in your guidebook.
Or perhaps you are in a Dutch village and thanks to your incredible Dutch speaking skills, which flourished right after you made learning the language your priority resolution this year, you are able to hear incredible stories about the history of the place.
One of the most rewarding aspects of knowing a foreign language is simply being able to connect with others.
Languages open up your world and help you engage with different cultures.
This way, you can become part of a local community much easier, deepen your relationship with other cultures, and even build lifelong relationships.
Advancing your career
You are delivering a pitch to a Brazilian company. There is a moment where your team finds it hard to communicate the key messages, followed by an awkward silence. Unshaken by this, you stand up and start talking about the nitty-gritty of the long-awaited agreement in fabulous Portuguese… Wouldn’t that make a great movie scene? You shine, not only in that meeting, but also in your career.
Unarguably, one of the keys to success is effective communication. Knowing a foreign language gives you a competitive edge in your career regardless of your occupation and expertise.
According to New American Economy, between 2010 and 2015, the number of US job postings specifically geared toward bilingual candidates more than doubled.
In the upcoming years, we can definitely expect a need for a more international and language-proficient workforce.
Improving your cognitive skills
People who speak more than one language have better problem-solving, listening, and critical-thinking skills.
Their attention spans are also improved, as is their ability to multitask.
If you are seeking more creativity in your life, the answer could be to learn a new language. It will allow you to tap into unknown zones and unconnected areas of your brain.
The reason is that learning a language has a truly positive effect on creativity and originality. Moreover, it leads to more empathy toward others and builds a global mindset.
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The top six easiest languages for native English speakers to learn
English is a West Germanic language with borrowings from many languages, ranging from Latin and Ancient Greek to German and Dutch.
Despite its Germanic roots, English has a lot in common with Romance languages as well. Be prepared to hear more about some of these languages below.
We have compiled a list of the top six easiest languages for native English speakers to learn, based on language roots, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Here you go!
1. Spanish: ¡Hola!
There is a good reason why many people prefer to learn Spanish as a new language – it is practical, widely spoken, and sounds elegant.
Today, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, with over 400 million native speakers. Derived from Latin, Spanish is one of the Romance languages. Luckily, a sizable chunk of English words come from Romance/Latin sources, so there are a lot of similarities.
There are a large number of cognates between English and Spanish, which makes it much easier for native English speakers to learn Spanish. For instance, “actor,” “admirable,” and “chocolate” are spelled the same in both languages, although pronounced a little differently, so they are near-perfect cognates.
Can you guess what “confusión” or “subversión” mean? It shouldn’t take you too long to figure them out!
One of the pros of Spanish is also that the pronunciation is quite straightforward. On the other hand, we can’t quite say the same thing about the grammar. Although the tenses mostly align with those used in English, there are some exceptions and “fun” rules to learn.
According to the US Foreign Service Institute, Spanish is one of the fastest languages for English speakers to learn.
Google “the most beautiful places” in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, or the other 17 countries where Spanish is spoken as an official language, get your daily dose of motivation, and you are ready to start!
2. Dutch: Hallo!
If you hear someone speaking a language you do not know but that sounds like a mix of German and English, it is most probably Dutch.
On top of being one of the easiest languages native English speakers can pick up, Dutch is the third most-spoken Germanic language.
It is spoken in the Netherlands, parts of Belgium, Suriname, and on some gorgeous Caribbean islands. Just like Spanish, Dutch shares a high number of cognates with English, but here comes the same friendly warning: the pronunciation can be quite different, so be prepared to focus on pronunciation.
Another interesting fact is that along with the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese), Dutch requires about 600 hours of study to reach a general level of professional proficiency in speaking and reading. If you love riding “fietsen” (bikes), eating “wafels” (Can you guess what that could be?), and want to learn a language as fast as possible, Dutch could be the one for you!
3. Swedish: Hallå!
Before diving into the roots of the Swedish language, let’s solve a mystery that has existed since the beginning of time itself – “IKEA” is an acronym that stands for “Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.” “Ingvar Kamprad” is the founder’s name; the rest refers to the names of Kamprad’s farm and the village he grew up in.
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken natively by around 10 million people.
One advantage for an English speaker learning Swedish is that the grammar and sentence structure are quite similar to English.
Another advantage for native English speakers is that Swedish also has lots of cognates that make it much easier for you to build your vocabulary. So, we believe “you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life,” and learn Swedish in the meantime!
4. Portuguese: Olá!
Portuguese is a member of the Romance language family, just like Spanish, Italian, and French, and is spoken in Portugal and Brazil.
It is also the official language in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Did you know that it is also the official language of the Chinese autonomous territory of Macau? So, it should come as no surprise that Portuguese is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world!
What makes Portuguese relatively easy for English speakers to learn and speak is a concept which you should be familiar with by now: cognates.
In some cases, however, cognates can have totally different meanings – these are known as “false friends.” For example, in Portuguese “pasta” means a folder, whereas the delicious Italian staple is known as “massa”!
If you want to understand classic Brazillian bossa nova songs or elegant Portuguese fado folk lyrics and dream of visiting places where Portuguese is spoken, then it seems you’ve already made up your mind about the next language to learn. Good luck and enjoy!
5. Italian: Ciao!
Wouldn’t knowing a language spoken by 63 million people and being able to confidently pronounce the dish you want in an Italian restaurant feel great? We think so too.
As mentioned earlier, Italian is a Romance language. It has many cognates that you, as a native English speaker, will quickly recognize and pick up right away, which makes it even easier to learn.
One friendly tip: If you visit Italy, keep in mind that in Italian culture salutations and introductions are a sign of showing respect.
Learning to say “Buongiorno” (“Good morning”) and “Ciao” (“Hello”) is your first homework! This will pay off with lots of sympathy from the recipient.
Sounds good? Bellissimo! Why not get started today?
6. French: Bonjour
We know what you are thinking: “Wait, what? What about the pronunciation?”
As one of the Romance languages, French is spoken by approximately 76 million people as a first language, and by 274 million people as a first or second language.
The francophone world includes parts of Canada and Belgium, some Caribbean and South Pacific islands, a number of West African countries, French Guiana in South America, and (surprise, surprise) France! It is an official language in a whopping 29 countries around the world.
Although it is not as easy for English speakers as Spanish or Italian, there is still a large amount of cognates and shared vocabulary. Do “la communication,” “avant-garde,” or “journal” sound familiar?
When it comes to pronunciation, there are countless ways to enhance your speaking skills. Watching French movies, listening to French songs, or having chats with “copines” (female friends) and “copains” (male friends) would definitely help!
Where to start?
Just as every good plan starts with a clear goal, first define yours – why do you want to learn a new language?
- Is your goal solely to advance in your career?
- Are you preparing for your next holiday?
- Are you planning to move to a foreign country?
- Do you want to improve your cognitive skills?
- Do you want to deepen your relationship with a particular culture?
Once you make up your mind about what you want and why you want it, the next step is to come up with a strategy on how to learn this new language in the most effective way.
In other words, you need to find a practical and smart language learning app to help you learn what matters most, such as Lingvist!
Download the Lingvist app today and start building your vocabulary in 7 languages, including Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese, so that you can:
- Learn the words that you really need to know.
- Improve your vocabulary in as little as 30 minutes per day.
- Enjoy learning a new language on desktop or mobile, depending on your preferences!
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