So you want to learn a new language, but there are a lot of options. So why not tackle a language that will be relatively easy to learn? With the help of language guru Benjamin Davies, who is one of our +150 language experts working at Babbel, we’ve compiled a list of the five easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Hopefully, this will help you narrow down your options, so you can start learning right away!
This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language for English speakers to pick up. Norwegian is a member of the Germanic family of languages — just like English! This means the languages share quite a bit of vocabulary, such as the seasons vinter and sommer. Another selling point for Norwegian: The grammar is very straightforward, with only one form of each verb per tense. And the word order closely mimics English. For example, “Can you help me?” translates to Kan du hjelpe meg?
Finally, you’ll have a lot more leeway with pronunciation when learning Norwegian. That’s because there are a vast array of different accents in Norway and, therefore, more than one “correct way” to pronounce words. We even asked a native-English speaker about his experience learning Norwegian over seven days, and he wrote about how easy it was here. Sound appealing? Lace up your snow boots and give Norwegian a try!
Alternatively: If you’re keen to learn an easy Scandinavian language but don’t like Norwegian, try Swedish! Its verb forms aren’t quite as straightforward as Norwegian, but hey — it has the benefit of being more culturally relevant through IKEA and all those Scandi dramas.
Our second 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. Plus, it’s also one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn!
For one, English and Spanish already share a lot of vocabulary. Correcto means “correct,” delicioso is “delicious,” and so on. Spanish pronunciation is also fairly straightforward, as its words are mostly pronounced the way they’re spelled. But perhaps the biggest pro to choosing to learn Spanish is its prevalence in our everyday lives. You’ve probably heard Spanish spoken on TV, on the radio and even by members of your community. It’s everywhere and our experts say that only need to dedicate 15 minutes a day to start learning!
Alternatively: If you love the sounds of Spanish but want to set yourself apart, try learning Portuguese! It’s 89% lexically similar to Spanish, but opens up a different part of Latin American (and Iberian) culture to you.
Chances are, you probably don’t know much about our third pick, so here’s a quick introduction: Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands, as well as in a large portion of Belgium. It’s also the third most-spoken Germanic language after German and English, which makes sense because Dutch often sounds like a combination of German and English!
A really interesting characteristic of Dutch is that many words are spelled exactly the same as they are in English, more so than in almost any other language. And that’s not just coincidence. Dutch is English’s closest major language relative, so that’s a huge advantage for learners!
Next up is another Romance language. Though not as widely spoken as Spanish or Portuguese, Italian still has more than 63 million native speakers! Perhaps the best part of choosing Italian is the possibility to learn with food! Italian cuisine has become a staple of many Western countries, bringing a number of Italian words into our regular vocabularies. Penne all’arrabbiata translates to “angry pasta” (presumably because it’s spicy!), and farfalle (the pasta shaped like bow ties) actually means “butterflies.” Doesn’t learning Italian sound delizioso?
There’s one more major Romance language on our list, and this one is often a fan favorite. Although it’s not as easy to learn as some of its language cousins, the biggest benefit to choosing to learn French is the large amount of shared vocabulary. But this isn’t solely due to its linguistic roots.
During the lengthy history of wars and conquests between France and England, key vocabulary and phrases were passed from one country to the other. This mostly came in the form of French vocabulary added to the English language, such as avant-garde and à la carte, although the word-sharing went from English to French as well (e.g. week-end). French pronunciation is also a bit tricky at first, but we often hear French accents in pop culture, making them easier to replicate than you may think!