ECTACO Info | The 10 Easiest Foreign Languages For English Speakers To Learn
Unlike English, its structure won’t make your head spin. A great feature of Afrikaans, especially for grammar-phobes, is its logical and non-inflective structure.
Unlike English, there is no verb conjugation (swim, swam, swum). Unlike Romance languages, there is no gender (un homme, une femme in French).
Linguists estimate that French has influenced up to a third of the modern English language, from the language of the courts in the 11th century to modern terms like je ne sais quoi, après-ski, and bourgeois. For language learners, English has more in common lexically with French than any other Romance language.
This means that French vocabulary is more familiar, recognisable, and easy to comprehend. Advanced French learners may struggle with its gendered nouns and 17 verb forms, but for conversational learning, it’s relatively facile.
This means that reading and writing in Spanish is a straightforward task.
Spanish is an official language on three continents, and with growing economies in Latin and South America, it’s a valuable professional skill. In a Telegraph survey, 37 per cent of employers rated Spanish as a useful language to know.
In terms of pronunciation and vocabulary, it parallels English in many ways, such as groen (green) or de oude man (the old man).
In addition to familiar Germanic root words, the Dutch language adopted many loan words from French, with familiar words like drogeren (drug) and blok (block).
Norwegian and English have very similar syntax and word order. Verbs are an especially simple feature, with no conjugation according to number or person.
The rules of conjugation are particularly straightforward, with a simple –e suffix for past tense, and –s for passive verbs.
In Norway’s top-ranking education system, English is taught nationwide, starting at the primary school level, and most Norwegians are near-fluent.
Portuguese is grammatically similar to other Romance languages.
One attractively simple feature is its interrogative form, which is expressed by intonation alone, not through rearranging phrases.
In Brazilian Portuguese, questions can also be posed through one catchall question tag: não é?
The syntax is also familiar to English speakers, with a Subject-Verb-Object structure, and verb conjugations which follow the same patterns and rules as in English grammar.
What’s more, Swedish verbs are uninflected and normally constant, which makes for wonderfully simple conjugation. “I speak/ You speak/ He speaks” would translate into Swedish as jag pratar / du pratar/ han pratar.
Once a learner can master the four extra vowels (like ö or å) and the uniquely Scandinavian “sje,” Swedish can be a melodic language that is easy to listen to and fairly easy to reproduce.
The most romantic of Romance language, Italian has a Latin-rooted vocabulary which allows for many Italian/English cognates, including foresta (forest), calendario (calendar), and ambizioso (ambitious).
Like Spanish, the shallow orthographic depth of Italian makes it a highly readable language, especially since the Italian alphabet, at 21 letters, is actually simpler than English.
Uniquely Italian phonemes like –ace or –ghi are regular and quite easy for English speakers to master. What’s more, Italian sentence structure is highly rhythmic, with most words ending in vowels.
This adds a musicality to the spoken language which makes it fairly simple to understand, and undeniably fun to produce.
Esperanto advocate Leo Tolstoy claimed to have learned it in four hours.
Most linguists class it among the easiest languages to learn, especially for Indo-European language speakers.
Created in the late 19th century, this nationally and politically neutral language was constructed for easy acquisition. What makes this man-made language so simple to learn? The spelling system is regular and phonetic, and the rules of grammar are simple and designed without irregularities.
Words are constructed building-block style out of regularised prefixes, roots, and suffixes. Words compound logically, as we see in birdokanto (birdsong), akvobirdo (waterfowl), akvomelono (watermelon).
The two parted ways, so to speak, when Old English and Old Frisian started evolving independently around the 8th century. Despite their geographical and historical separation, the similarities between English and Frisian are uncanny, with near-identical vocabulary, structure, and phonetics.
There’s a linguistic saying, “Good butter and good cheese” (Goed bûter en goed tsiis) is good English and good Fries.” Spoken aloud, the Frisian and English versions of the sentence are interchangeable.
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