What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers?

Is learning a new language on your bucket list? Frankly speaking, it can be pretty challenging.

My eLearning World: Training Techno...
My eLearning World: Training Technology Without Borders

Although every learner is unique and the difficulty level in learning a particular language is not easy to ascertain, some languages can be easy to learn, while others can be hard. The trick is to start with the easiest.

But what is the easiest language to learn for English speakers?

For native English speakers, Spanish is the easiest language to learn because it shares similar characteristics with the English language, the pronunciation of the words is straightforward, and it has a highly structured grammar.

But while Spanish is considered the easiest language to learn for English speakers, it’s not the only “easy” second language to pick up. There are several other languages that are fairly easy to learn for many people.

Learning a foreign language is one way of taking advantage of what globalization offers. It will enable you to understand other people’s cultures better and improve your linguistic skills in your first language.

Most importantly, it will help advance your career. Bilingual and multilingual professionals across various fields are in high demand. So if you have been looking for a reason to start, there you have it!

If you want to tick this off that bucket list, keep reading this article to find out more about why Spanish is easy to learn, the length of time to proficiency, and other languages that will be easy for you to acquire.

 

How Long Does it Take to Learn Spanish?

According to the language ranking by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), it takes about 24-30 weeks for English speakers to learn Spanish.

The institute is responsible for training foreign affairs professionals in the U.S government to gain specialized skill sets, including linguistic expertise, diplomatic competence, and leadership capabilities.

Their timelines emanate from 70 years of experience teaching languages to U.S.diplomats.

Spanish falls under Category I of the ranking of FSI. This classification shows the average amount of time it will take to get to the level of professional working proficiency.

This is equivalent to Speaking-3/Reading-3(S-3/R-3) on the Interagency Langage Roundtable scale.

According to this classification, it takes 24-30 weeks or 600-750 class hours to reach this S-3/R-3 proficiency level. But for other languages in other categories, it takes more than that.

Based on their study, if you dedicate 3 hours every day to learning Spanish, it will take about 5-6 months to gain a professional mastery of the language.

This, however,  may sound cumbersome, considering that you have to juggle work and adulthood, but it is not impossible. And that is all the motivation you need to know to make it work.

Their ranking is based on their observation over the years on the average length of time it will take a student to achieve proficiency in a foreign language.

 

Why is the Spanish Language Easy to Learn?

Below are some reasons why Spanish is easy to learn for native English speakers

Similar characteristics to the English language

Spanish possesses similar characteristics to the English language. Even though they do not belong to the same language family (English is Germanic, while Spanish is Romance), they share specific characteristics.

Some of these similarities include:

Lexical cognates

Spanish and English share numerous cognates. Cognates are words that have the same origin, similar meanings, and sometimes identical spellings in two different languages.

Here are some of them:

English Spanish
Cancer Cáncer
Hotel Hotel
Actor Actor
Explosion Explosión
Religion Religóin
History Historia
Controversy Controversia
Family Familia
Radio Radio
Class Clase

Alphabet similarity

There is a similarity between the Spanish alphabet and the English alphabet. They almost look the same if you are not paying enough attention.

English Alphabet Spanish Alphabet
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z a(á), b, c, ch, d, e(é), f, g, h, i(í), j, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o(ó), p, q, r, rr, s, t, u(ú, ü), v, w, x, y, z

As you can see, safe for a few alphabets, they look pretty much the same, and it wouldn’t take time for you to start reciting it the way you recite your English alphabet.

 

Easy to pronounce

Spanish is a phonetic language, meaning the words are pronounced the way they are spelled. 

How cool can it get? This makes the words so easy to pronounce. 

However, there are stresses, accent marks, and pitches, but it still doesn’t change the fact that there is a direct relationship between the written form and the spoken form.

 

Simple grammar rules

Unlike some languages, there are many regularities in the Spanish language, which is why the grammar is pretty straightforward.

For the nouns, there are two genders, just like in the English language, and the rules distinguishing them are not complex.

Additionally, they have the same sentence structure as the English language, following the Subject-verb-object format.

 

What Makes a Language Easy to Learn?

Many factors can make a language easy to learn and can affect how long it takes to learn a new language, some of which are listed below.

Linguistic structure

The linguistic structure of a language can influence its learnability. This study found that languages with regular and highly structured grammar are easy to learn by adults.

Simply put, languages with simple grammar rules are easier to acquire by second language learners.

 

Shares certain similarities with your native language

You have the chance to learn a language faster if it shares similar characteristics and fundamentals with your mother tongue, such as grammar rules, cognates, gendering, and formality levels. 

That is why you sometimes see some non-native English speakers doing word-for-word translations when they encounter problems expressing themselves.

It is even better when it shares certain features with your native language.

 

Exposure to multiple foreign languages

Interacting and living among speakers of foreign languages is one of the things that make a language easy to learn. 

As a child, you learned how to speak your mother tongue simply by listening, observing, and mimicking your parents or guardians.

Although learning a second language as an adult is more challenging, you can pick up some words in another language by simply listening to the speakers.

That way, you can intensify your learning by building on existing knowledge.

 

Natural ability

The individual learner’s natural ability can impact the amount of time it takes to learn a new language. 

Our personal learning strengths combine our talents, abilities, and existing skills to assimilate new knowledge. Some people are fast learners, which plays a role in the length of time they acquire a new language.

We all know that one person that anytime you travel on vacation with them to a different country, they are usually quick to pick up some lines that will help them get by, such as ordering food, drinks, or coffee and asking for directions.

Some people have an ear for language; they easily pick up patterns and nuances in a foreign language. And if this is you, learning a language will be a piece of cake.

 

Interest

Personal interest is one factor that makes a language easy to learn. Not having an interest in learning something new will make it look like a chore or punishment.

If you want to learn a new language, you must first develop an interest and put in the work.

The tower of Babel phenomenon will not have a repeat, so you must be dedicated and committed to giving it your all.

 

Other Easy-to-Learn Languages for Native English Speakers

There are other languages that are easy to learn for native English speakers. Below you can read about some of them.

Italian

So many words in English come directly or indirectly from Latin. And just like every other Romance language originating from Latin, the Italian language shares similarities with English. 

Many English words we use today originated from Latin, similar to their Italian equivalents.

The two languages share the same sentence structure, following the subject-verb-object format.

Also, some English words such as fiasco, finale, piano, and concerto are derived from the Italian language.

 

Dutch

Dutch is a Germanic language that falls under Category I of the FSI ranking. This means that it will take approximately 24-30 weeks for a native English speaker to reach the S-3/R-3 proficiency level.

It has certain features in common with English, including grammar, linguistic roots, and vocabulary.

The language also shares the same cognates as English.

English Dutch
Wolf Wolf
Water Water
Cat Kat
Rose Roos
Boss Baas

French

French is easy to learn for native English speakers because it shares similarities with English. According to the FSI ranking, it also falls under category I.

Most French words have the same Latin root as English. They also have similar cognates.

English French
Extravagant Extravagant
Elephant Éléphant
Telephone Téléphone
Professor Professeur
Restaurant Restaurant

Romanian

Romanian also falls under the same category as English in the FSI ranking. It shares the same vocabulary as Italian, French, and Spanish, so it would be easy for native English speakers to learn.

If you can learn these three other languages easily, Romanian would also be easy peasy.

 

German

German belongs to the Germanic family but falls under Category II of the FSI ranking. It is the only language in its own category and will take 30 weeks to learn. 

However, it shares certain features with English, including vocabulary and sentence structure.

 

A Final Word on the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers

Overall, learning a new language requires commitment, interest, and strategy. The right online learning platforms and language learning apps, like PimsleurRosetta Stone, and Babbel, can also be very helpful in mastering a new language.

So, if you want to embark on this journey, select a language that will be easy for you to master. And that is why you should go for Spanish.

Spanish is the most straightforward language to learn for native English speakers because it has certain characteristics in common with the English language, the words are easy to pronounce, and the structure of the grammar is regular. 

So get to work! And make sure you utilize a learning strategy that will enable you to learn better, like learning a new language online if you’re someone who’s self-motivated.

Still have questions about the easiest language to learn for English speakers? Let us know by commenting below so we can help.

Lorea Lastiri

Leave a Comment