Learning a new language as a native English speaker is a great way to enhance your education. Many companies prefer a bilingual or multilingual potential employee over those with no secondary language skills. It is also a fantastic idea to learn a new language if you are considering travelling to the region that speaks it. Not only will this enhance your trip abroad by connecting you to the culture on a deeper level, but you will not look like that tourist jerk who neglected to learn anything about the language.
Learning a new language and travelling to the region is also really helpful in furthering your education on it. You cannot teach dialects from a book and you may even pick up some handy new words from talking to people. Those who natively speak a language are more than happy to help a student of it learn a thing or two.
However, not every language is a piece of cake for native English speakers. Nor is every language frustratingly hard either. In fact, between the many different languages, there is a wide variety that are easy and a variety that are hard.
If the ease of learning is a factor into what language you want to learn, it is best to pick a language that is similar to English. A lot of languages share common words with English mostly because, well, English stole them from that country. However, most people do not look for an easy language. They look for a language because they:
- Want to visit the county
- A lot of people speak it and it would be useful to know
- It does not take a lot of 'in class time' or 'hours' to become proficient in it
- Have a passion for a TV show / Book / Movie from that country and hate subtitles / translations.
- If you are looking for an easy language to learn, here is a helpful break down to help aid your choice.
Note: No language is "super easy, master in a night", like when you learned English it takes time and practice. So do not think by picking a language below you can learn it in a week. It takes months of hard work and practice.
In comparison to English, Spanish is relatively simple to learn and understand. In ways, it is even simpler than English. For example, English has around 20 different vowel sounds, while Spanish has around 10.
Like many European languages, Spanish is often pronounced just as it is written making it simple to read then speak words. The grammar system is relatively similar to English, if not simpler and easy to understand. However with Spanish you have to watch out for words that sound like an English words, but mean something completely different. You will have to remind your brain about those to prevent slip ups.
You should also keep in mind that Latin American Spanish and European Spanish do have some differences so you should be sure you are learning for the proper region.
French, in my opinion, is probably the most difficult of all the "easy" languages to learn. there are more verb forms and gendered nouns in comparison to English. French also can be a task because of its difficult to master pronunciation. There are a lot of different vowel sounds and silent letters run rampant. It is more difficult to learn how to speak it by reading it, unless you have learned the vowel sounds and know the silent letters.
The good news about French that makes it relatively easy to learn is that the French language has influenced a large portion of English vocabulary. It has been argued that is has actually influenced English the most. So many of the words English speakers will find familiar and easier to remember.
Italian is often mocked by English speakers. For example, "It'sa me! A-Mario!" from the classic Super Mario video games is a jest towards the Italian language. While possibly offensive, it is not entirely without merit. Much of the Italian language ends with vowels. This makes it an extremely fun and lyrical language to speak.
Italian is similar to English and other European languages because it essentially follows the same structure. It has similar word order and grammar to English making it fairly easy to pick up. You will find many multilingual Europeans because of this. Once you know French or German, picking up Italian isn't that different. Though it does have less verb forms than French.
Learning Dutch has many different difficulties, however it is mostly being able to practice. Many Northern European countries speak English fluently and Dutch is not a language that is used a lot anymore. Dutch is often more difficult to learn because it is spoken both very quickly and very quietly. It does not help that it is more monotonous than English either.
However, if grammar is the bane of your existence, Dutch is not a bad language to learn. There are only 9 verb forms which are very easy to remember. Many English speakers will also be able to draw similarities between Dutch words and English words as many of them sound similar.
A lot of people believe that if you can learn Spanish, you can learn Portuguese. This is not true, mostly because of pronunciation. While Spanish pretty much pronounce words like they are written, Portuguese do not. Which can make it confusing at times. However once you learn the vowel sounds and other bits of the pronunciation, you are just about set. Especially if you are learning Portuguese just so you can ask questions in Portugal or Brazil. Interrogatives in Portuguese are so simple that if you can speak it, you can ask.
The other great plus to Portuguese is that they have less prepositions than English and it is very easy to remember. However their prepositions do not always mean the same as English ones, so you have to watch that.
Afrikaans, spoken by the people of South Africa is surprisingly the easiest language to learn out of the bunch! Shocker, I know. It is actually a language after my own heart too. Afrikaans has no gender ( like her or his), no conjugation of verbs (write, written, wrote), or pronouns (my or mine).
After just a wee bit of vocabulary memorization you can start building sentences in the most basic and logical of sense. As a person who is not always the greatest with grammar, I appreciate Afrikaans because it throws grammar to the wind in favor of a very logical language!
Though there are a few little differences in pronunciation. The language is very comfortable and natural for English speakers..