Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (2024)

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If you are looking to take on a second language, here's a list of some of the easiest languages to learn as an English speaker.

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (1)

By Ashely Gavilanes

Published January 9, 2024

Whether you are planning to study abroad, volunteer, or take a gap year, spending time overseas presents an excellent opportunity to learn a new language. While learning another language requires patience, persistence, and practice, there are some languages that English speakers can find relatively easier for English speakers to learn.

If you want to expand your ability to communicate and have a more immersive experience while traveling, we compiled a list of the languages you should consider.

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (2)

1. Afrikaans

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (3)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 24 weeks (600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 6 million
📍 Countries to visit: South Africa

It's the native language of South Africa and a West Germanic language similar to others mentioned on the list. It originates primarily from Dutch but has Portuguese, Malay, and French influence. With 6 million speakers, you will find that Afrikaans has been heavily incorporated into the everyday vocabulary of South African English.

✅ Pros:

  • 90% of Afrikaans words are of Dutch origin, making it a Germanic language, the same as English! You'll find similarities in vocabulary and pronunciation. Example: color is kleurand door is duer.

🟨 Cons:

  • Afrikaans has a limited reach compared to other languages; however, if you are traveling to the Netherlands, you may find communication easier due to its Dutch origins.
  • The trilled "r." How the letter is pronounced in Afrikaans has proven difficult for English speakers.

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2. Dutch

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (4)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 24 weeks (575-600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 23 million
📍 Countries to visit: Netherlands, Aruba, Northern Belgium

Dutch is a Germanic language, with around 23 million people speaking it as their native tongue and another 4 million as their second. Dutch is closely related to English, which is why it makes it to one of the top spots on our list. Dutch influence can also be found in Afrikaans, Flemish (Belgium), and Frisian (Friesland).

✅ Pros:

  • Vocabulary will be easier to understand than other languages due to the spelling of some words being exactly the same or closely related to their English counterparts. For example, water is the same in both languages, and other terms such as boek and appel are similar to the English counterparts book and apple.
  • Dutch has similar grammar to English and only two past tense conjunctions, making it easier to understand and use.

🟨 Cons:

  • Pronunciation can be deceiving. Although some words intuitively may look like English, and you'll want to pronounce them as such, there might be an emphasis on a letter you don't stress in English.

Read more: Should You Learn a Language in the Classroom or Through Immersion?

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3. Norwegian

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (5)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 4.4 million
📍 Countries to visit: Norway, Denmark, Sweden

At first glance, you might be thinking no way is Norwegian easy to learn! But it’s actually super similar to English, making Norwegian one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Although it does not have as broad of a reach as other languages, there are connections to Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark, making communication and travel more accessible, since you’ll be able to reasonably understand and communicate with speakers of those countries.

✅ Pros:

  • Norwegian shares similar vocabulary and sentence structure to English, and has even borrowed words from English. See if you can translate these words without Google—oransje, fantastisk, ankel!
  • Most pronunciation is straightforward.

🟨 Cons:

  • Special characters and occasional pronunciation difficulties
  • Gendered nouns

Read more: 5 Tips to Overcome Language Barriers

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4. Spanish

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (6)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 24 weeks (600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 595 million total speakers
📍 Countries to visit: Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica

Spanish is a widely spoken Romance language and the second-most spoken language globally, with over half a billion speaking it natively or as a second language. While many dialects differ by region and country, it has become a popular choice for many native English speakers for its practicality and presence in mainstream media and wide reach.

✅ Pros:

  • Spanish is easier for native English speakers to learn than many other languages, thanks to its Latin origins. English and Spanish have similar words such as attention means atención and camera means cámara.
  • Spanish is a phonetic language, making the pronunciation of most words direct. Once you understand the different accents, it will help with pronunciation and reading.

🟨 Cons:

  • Grammar can be challenging for English speakers due to several different verb tenses and the desire to mirror English grammatical structure when speaking.

Read more: 10 Best Places to Learn Spanish Abroad

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5. Italian

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (7)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 63 million
📍 Countries to visit: Italy, Switzerland, some parts of Croatia and Slovenia

Italian is one of the most popular romance languages, next to Spanish and French. Although it is not as widely spoken as the others and is mainly concentrated in Europe, it's the 20th most-spoken language, with 63 million Italian native speakers and an additional 3 million speaking it as their second language. Due to food and pop culture influence worldwide, some words or phrases you might already know. Does panini, gelato, or la dolce vita sound familiar?

✅ Pros:

  • Like Spanish and English, Italian has Latin origins. You might be able to figure out words in Italian without studying definitions, like the word generosità.
  • Pronunciation and spelling are direct, and there are very few tricks in pronunciation.

🟨 Cons:

  • Some verb conjugation can be challenging as some endings change completely and follow specific rules. The same goes for plurals; instead of adding an 's,' some endings must be changed entirely.

Read more: What to Know Before Learning Italian in Italy

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6. Portuguese

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (8)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 260 million
📍 Countries to visit: Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Macau, Mozambique

Portuguese is the official language in Brazil and Portugal, but the language reaches beyond that to countries in Africa. It is the world's third most spoken romance language, with just over 250 million speakers worldwide. One of the benefits of learning a romance language is that it helps create a solid foundation to understand others, like Spanish or French.

✅ Pros:

  • As a Latin language, it shares the same alphabet as English.
  • There are also some similarities in intonation and pronunciation.

🟨 Cons:

  • Due to some differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, if you plan a long-term stay, such as studying or moving abroad, you should focus on pronunciation and vocabulary specific to the region.
  • Some vocabulary words will be very similar to Spanish, and you'll desire to pronounce them as such; however, they have their own pronunciation and slightly different meanings. For example, biscoito means cookie in Portuguese, but in some Spanish-speaking regions bizcocho means cake. Both sweets but ultimately different foods.

Read more: The 6 Best Places to Learn Portuguese Abroad

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7. French

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (9)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 24 weeks (575-600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 320 million total speakers
📍 Countries to visit: France, Belgium, Switzerland, Ivory Coast, Morocco, and Canada

French is the official language of 29 countries across Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa, making it one of the most popular languages to learn for its global reach. Ranking as the 5th most spoken language in the world, learning French has many benefits, especially if you are interested in pursuing a career in international affairs or humanitarian work. International organizations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, and The International Red Cross use French as their official or working language.

✅ Pros:

  • Being a language with Latin roots means that many vocabulary words are similar or the same in English.
  • Due to its influence in cuisine, culture, and mainstream media, some vocabulary, such as à la carte or c'est la vie, are probably already familiar to you without realizing it.

🟨 Cons:

  • French pronunciation is tricky compared to other Romance languages, where most words are pronounced as they appear. It will require practice to understand pronunciation rules and use them correctly.

Read more: The Top 6 Countries to Learn French Abroad on a Budget

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8. Romanian

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (10)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 24 weeks (575-600 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 28 million total speakers
📍 Countries to visit: Romania and Moldova

Most people don't realize that Romanian is also a romance language that has similar vocabulary to French, Italian, and Spanish. Compared to other Romance languages, especially the ones listed above, it has the smallest reach, with over 15 million native speakers and 28 million total speakers around the world.

✅ Pros:

  • Romanian is a phonetic language, the same as Spanish, meaning that the words are spelled out how they are pronounced.
  • Latin roots allow for a similar structure, meaning you can intuitively guess many vocabulary words.

🟨 Cons:

  • There are grammatical challenges when learning Romanian, such as the form of nouns may change in relation to the verb in a sentence. Although a romance language, this grammatical rule is similar to Russian and Polish, which are more challenging to learn.
  • Due to Romania being surrounded by various Slavic-speaking countries, like Bulgaria, some words may be incorporated into local dialects.

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9. Swahili

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (11)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 36 weeks (900 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 80 million total speakers
📍 Countries to visit: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique

Swahili is the official language of four countries, including Kenya and Tanzania, and it is widely spoken in other countries in East Africa, making up 80 million speakers. The Swahili language has influences from Arabic, German, French, and English.

✅ Pros:

  • Pronunciation of words is relatively straightforward as there are no silent letters or accents. Some vocabulary sounds similar to their English equivalent, such as hoteli is hotel.
  • Thanks to The Lion King, a childhood favorite of many, you might even know some words already! Simba means lion, Rafiki means friend, Pumbaa means silly or careless person, and the famous phrase Hakuna Matata means without trouble.

🟨 Cons:

  • Sentence structure and the use of participles at the beginning of words may be challenging for some language learners.

Read more: A Guide to Navigating the Stages of Language Learning

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10. Tagalog

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (12)

🕐 Approximate time to learn: 44 weeks (1100 hours)
🗣️ Number of speakers: 45 million
📍 Countries to visit: Philippines

Closing out our list of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn is Tagalog, a language part of the Austronesian group, along with other languages such as Malay and Sudanese. It is one of the Philippines' official languages, with 28% of the population speaking it as a first language. However, a very widespread language of the Philippines (although not officially recognized) is Taglish, the mixture of Tagalog and English.

✅ Pros:

  • Pronunciation is fairly straight-forward and vocabulary has similarities to English, Spanish, and Malay.
  • There are many words borrowed from English with slightly different spelling. For example, doctor is doktor and computer is kompyuter in Tagalog.

🟨 Cons:

  • The main difficulty and the reason it is the hardest one on this list is that the sentence structure and verb conjugation is different to English, and some words do not directly translate to English.

Read more: The 10 Best Languages to Learn in 2024 (and where to learn them)

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Start your language learning journey

Remember, practicing is the best way to learn, so don't be afraid of making mistakes! Practicing frequently and immersing yourself in the language, you'll develop your skills and become more confident in your speaking abilities.

Top 10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn (2024)

FAQs

What is the easiest languages to learn if you speak English? ›

Spanish. This pick should come as no surprise. Spanish has always been a go-to language for English speakers to learn due to its practicality and wide reach. Well, it's also one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.

What is the #1 hardest language to learn? ›

1. Mandarin Chinese. Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is challenging for a number of reasons.

What is the 20 hardest language in the world? ›

Top 20 Hardest languages to learn for english speakers
  • Criteria for ranking language difficulty. The task of ranking languages by difficulty is a complex endeavour that requires careful consideration of various linguistic factors. ...
  • Mandarin. ...
  • Arabic. ...
  • 3. Japanese. ...
  • Korean. ...
  • Russian. ...
  • Cantonese. ...
  • Hungarian.
Feb 19, 2024

What is the best 2nd language to learn? ›

The 7 Best Languages To Learn
  1. Spanish. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin, and not a surprise at the top of languages to learn. ...
  2. German. ...
  3. Arabic. ...
  4. Mandarin. ...
  5. Portuguese. ...
  6. Russian. ...
  7. French.
Oct 19, 2022

What is the hardest word to say? ›

7 most difficult English words that will let you forget what you wanted to say
  • Rural. ...
  • Sixth. ...
  • Sesquipedalian. ...
  • Phenomenon. ...
  • Onomatopoeia. ...
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. ...
  • Worcestershire.

What is the oldest language in the world? ›

World's oldest language is Sanskrit. The Sanskrit language is called Devbhasha. All European languages ​​seem inspired by Sanskrit. All the universities and educational institutions spread across the world consider Sanskrit as the most ancient language.

Which language has hardest grammar? ›

The top 10 hardest languages in the world include Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Georgian, and Navajo. These languages are renowned for their intricate grammar systems, complex writing systems, and significant differences from English.

What's the least spoken language? ›

According to UNESCO, the least spoken language in the world is Chana. Only one native speaker of Chana is still alive. The correct answer is Chana, or the King's English.

Which language is mother of all languages? ›

In the beginning, Sanskrit stood as mother of all languages and encouraged all languages and was the reason for their growth and prosperity.

What is the most useful language to learn after English? ›

Conclusions. The 3 best languages to learn (after English) are: Spanish, French, and Chinese. Naturally, if you're going to work in a specific country, you don't need to think twice about what language to learn next.

What is the most tricky language? ›

Mandarin is unanimously considered the most difficult language to master and is spoken by over a billion people in the world.

What is the sweetest language in the world? ›

One of the reasons why Bengali is regarded as the sweetest language in the world is because of its simplicity. It is very easy to speak and comprehend. The words and tonality are known to be absent of harshness and roughness. Additionally, Bengali also has simplified consonant and vowel sounds.

Why is English so hard to learn? ›

English has borrowed words from multiple languages, resulting in multiple pronunciations for the same spelling. Additionally, the same pronunciation can have different meanings depending on the context. Furthermore, English has various intonation patterns, stresses, and accents that can alter the meaning of a sentence.

What is the hardest language to learn if your English? ›

Generally, if you're an English speaker with no exposure to other languages, here are some of the most challenging: Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Finnish, Japanese, and Korean. Here's the good news; when you're excited to learn a new language, even the hardest ones can simply seem fun.

What is the hardest language to learn if you speak English? ›

Mandarin, the hardest language to learn for English speakers, spoken by over a billion people, is particularly valuable for business in Asia, where China's GDP presents a massive market.

What is the hardest language to learn if you re not English? ›

Arabic as a language

The Arabic language is considered tough to learn due to various factors, including its right-to-left syntax, letters changing shapes depending on the position within a word, and the complex pronunciation of short vowels that are not written in full letters while writing the language.

What's the closest language to English? ›

Exploring the Closest Languages to English

Dutch, Frisian, and German stand as the nearest kin to English, with Frisian holding the strongest resemblance. The syntax, lexicon, and phonetics of both Frisian and English demonstrate their shared lineage.

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