If you have made up your mind to learn a foreign language, you may be proud of yourself. Either you decided to do it as a hobby or because you need it for your work or studies, this intention will bring you certain benefits in your life. Every beginning is difficult, so start with small steps. Thus, it will be wise to choose easy languages to learn.

You should bear in mind that this endeavour requires a lot of effort and persistent practice. Don’t overload yourself, however. To simplify the process, you may choose languages similar to English.

To encourage you, we can add that nowadays, to master a foreign language is much simpler than it was a few decades ago. You don’t have to scrutinize a paper dictionary rushing through the pages to and fro to find the word you need. You can easily find the translation in online versions instead and you can listen to the correct pronunciation right away. Internet makes studies easier and faster. There are a lot of forums to discuss the issue you doubt. Lessons on Skype are available to anyone. You have an opportunity to choose city teachers even if you live in a rural area with internet connectivity.

David Crystal, a British linguist, remarked, “Language itself changes slowly but the internet has speeded up the process of those changes so you notice them more quickly.”

easiest languages to learn for English speakers

Which languages are most similar to English?

To understand what may be the closest language to English, we should know that English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family. It falls into three groups, two of them survived till present: West Germanic (English proper, German, Dutch), North Germanic (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic). The third group – East Germanic – is now obsolete.

English is also greatly influenced by the Romance languages that originated from Vulgar Latin. (The list of Romance languages includes Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French). Latin roots and the alphabet (runes previously) are explained by the expansion of Romans in Europe. French borrowings assimilated into English significantly after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

According to the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, “A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas.”

When we compare different languages, we notice that these ‘differences in ideas’ refer to sounds, spelling habits, lexical units and grammar structure.

Getting into the details of some cool languages, you will realize that your mother tongue is not so complicated as non-natives may think. Arabic, Japanese or Chinese sound like tongue twisters to an untrained ear, and their alphabets are real brain teasers.

Comparatively not so long ago for language development – in the early 20th century, President Ataturk changed the Arabic script to Latin in Turkey, otherwise Turkish would be on the list, too.

A dramatically different grammar system of Oriental groups does not make them the top choice when English speakers seek the answer to the question “What is the easiest language to learn”.

For example, Turkish belongs to the Turkic family that is known as agglutinative. It means that it builds grammatical categories and forms by means of suffixes added to a word root – making the word rather long. For example, “May I take?” in Turkish translates as “Alabilir miyim?”, where ‘al’ is the root, ‘abil’ denotes modality, ‘mi’ forms a question and ‘im’ is for 1st person singular.

This may seem too complicated as English is a flectional analytical language: grammatical forms and categories are either obsolete or made through the system of flexions and separate words. So if you want to pick up one of the easy languages, you are most likely to skip the option with a different grammar system.

Top 7 easiest languages to learn for Anglophones

If you don’t have any major purpose to learn something difficult, the best idea for an English native would be to choose something similar to their mother tongue.

The table below specifies some features of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.

NoLanguageGeographyNative speakers in 2019 (mln people)Examples of similarity to English
Lexical unitsGrammar
1SpanishSpain

Gibraltar

Andorra

Switzerland

Americas

Africa

Oceania

480Similar roots from Latin:

mucho – much, octo – eight

suffixes for nouns sg and pl: las niñas

indicative, subjunctive, imperative mood for verbs

es for ‘to be’ 3rd person sg (cf. ‘is’)

fixed word order (SVO)

2FrenchFrance

Belgium

Canada

Africa

Americas

Switzerland

Middle East

Oceania and Australasia

77.2Numerous borrowings from French with the same spelling and meaning (agreement, behaviour, grandeur)

Spelling observes obsolete pronunciation rules

Definite and indefinite articles for nouns

indicative, subjunctive, imperative mood, present and past participle for verbs

fixed word order (SVO)

3NorwegianNorway

Sweden

USA

Canada

4.7Similar roots from Old Norse, e.g.: tu – two, tre – three, bok – books-variant of possessive: Jentas bil (girl’s car)

suffixes for nouns sg and pl: bat-bater (boat-boats)

fixed word order (SVO)

4DutchThe Netherlands

Belgium

Americas

South Africa

Australasia

23.1Similar roots of Germanic origin:

Zenden – to send

Breek – break

Latin and French borrowings

Past tense and participle are formed with suffixes similar to English irregular verbs:

zit-zat (sit-sat)

gebroken (broken)

grammatical cases are mostly obsolete

fixed word order (SVO)

5PortugueseSouth and Latin America

Africa

Malaysia

China

India

221Mostly Latin roots:

fogo – fire (from Latin focus)

razāo – reason (ratio)

irmāo – brother (germanicus)

Germanic borrowings:

suino – swine from ‘sweina’

gravar – to craft, graft, record -from ‘graba’

Lost case system for nouns, two numbers: sg and pl.

Verb: three tenses (past, present, future), three moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive), three aspects (perfective, imperfective, continuous)

mainly fixed word order (SVO)

6SwedishSweden

Finland

10Similar roots of Germanic origin (Old Norse in particular):
den – themus  – mousekung – king
Definite and indefinite articles for nouns

Using prepositions instead of grammatical cases

fixed word order (SVO)

7ItalianItaly

Switzerland

Eastern Europe

Africa

64.8Similar roots from Latin: settembre – September

secondo – second

studio – study

Noun suffixes for sg and pl – arte-arti (art – arts)

Indefinite and definite articles for nouns

Verbal conjugations by person/number (Indicative)

Note that each of them may be regarded as the easiest language to learn even just because you spell its words in the Latin alphabet like in English. Also, the following groups are mutually intelligible, so if you know one already, it will be simpler to master another kindred one:

  • Norwegian-Swedish-Danish (Germanic);
  • Spanish-Portuguese-Italian (Romance).

Why to learn a foreign language?

Whatever you choose as the best languages to learn, the reasons to master them are very similar – if not the same – in any particular case.

For example, being a professional website translator from English to Russian, around 15 years ago I decided also to master German. And now I am happy to offer German to Russian and to Ukrainian translation services as well.

English is the third spoken global language after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish due to the conquests of the British Empire and Columbus’ discovery of America. It is one of the six UNO languages and is taught as a second language in most countries worldwide.

However, there are certain benefits to master another one even if you are lucky to be an Anglophone, especially if this is one of the easiest languages to learn:

  • Personal development – you will get a wider outlook, learn about traditions in other countries, boost your memory and concentration skills, persistence and logics to apply grammar rules;
  • Courtesy – it is always more polite to communicate with people in their mother tongue;
  • Confidence while travelling – you will more secure in a foreign country when you know its language (the choice of destination depends on what climate and activities you prefer for holidays: if you like skiing – set off to the north, if you enjoy the seaside – go to Italy or Spain);
  • Studies and research – composing a thesis, you will get an opportunity to use more information sources;
  • Hobbies – either reading original books and watching films or just keeping yourself busy (as Sartre said, “To do is to be”);
  • Social skills – you will have an opportunity to communicate with new people (both for business and leisure);
  • Work opportunities – you can seek for a better job abroad;
  • Career prospects – if you professionally master a rare-known language, you have a greater chance to be in demand.

For some inspiration in conclusion, remember the theory of the American linguist Noam Chomsky. He states that humans have the so-called ‘language acquisition device’ and possess an innate ability for its learning.

 So, choose a language closest to English that appeals to you most and go ahead, everything is in your hands!