The 28 Easiest and Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers - Travel Lingual (2023)

Introduction: Learning a new language

In this post, we have put together a full and comprehensive list of the 28 easiest and hardest languages to learn for English speakers. In order to put this list together, we took into account the numerous factors which should be considered when deciding whether or not a language is difficult, or easy to learn.

These include, but are not limited to:

👍 Language types and writing systems
👍 Grammar and tones
👍 Physical and cultural differences

You’ll find all of this straight after the list! 😊

The easiest languages for native English speakers to learn

The 28 Easiest and Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers - Travel Lingual (1)
Spanish (575 – 600 hours) 🇪🇸

As a native English speaker, you will likely get on well with a language that uses the same alphabet as you. Enter Spanish. The Spanish language is phonetic (meaning the spelling tells you the pronunciation of the word).

This makes learning new vocabulary much easier because the letters are ones that you are already familiar with and you can figure out how to pronounce something with relative ease.

In terms of learning hours, it is thought that it takes you around 575 to 600 hours to learn Spanish to an intermediate level (this is more than enough to converse fluently in the language). However, it will take considerably less time to learn conversational Spanish.

Resources for learning Spanish are also very easy to come by, since it is so widely spoken all over the world. It is spoken in 21 different countries!

You may even know some Spanish from high school, meaning you have some basic knowledge to build upon. Oh, and it is also a Romance language, meaning it sounds oh-so-romantic.

Dutch (575 – 600 hours) 🇳🇱

Dutch is one of the most similar Germanic languages to that of English, so it is a great one to learn for native English speakers. There are many similar words and overlaps between the two languages, and many of our favorite English words are derived from the Dutch language.

This is because the Dutch were some of the first colonizers of the States. For this reason, they have had a lot of influence on English, particularly American English. For example, the word ‘frolic’ meaning to play and move around cheerfully (e.g. they frolicked in a field on a warm summer’s day) comes from the Dutch word ‘vrolijk’ which means happy and cheerful.

Also, ‘waffle’, those delicious breakfast-dessert foods, comes from the Dutch ‘wafel’.

French (575 – 600 hours) 🇫🇷

French is a language that has many similarities to English, and they share a large number of cognates. Cognates are when a similar-sounding word has an identical meaning. An example of this is musique.

Can you guess what English word this resembles? Of course, it’s music. This is just one of many cognates that the two languages share.

As well as looking and sounding similar, there are masses of resources out there to help you learn French, and it is spoken widely around the world. There are dialects of French even here in the States and of course, in Canada. Creole, for example, both Haitian and Louisianan are derived from the French language.

And of course, France exists! What better excuse to go to Paris and brush up on your French skills whilst you sip coffee and eat croissants?

By the way, why not check out our list of the best apps to learn French?

Portuguese (575 – 600 hours) 🇵🇹

As one of the Romance languages, Portuguese is certainly very beautiful. Some people even think it is one of the sexiest languages in the world.

There is a lot of overlap between Portuguese and English as they share many of the same cognates. It is similar in many ways to other languages that native English speakers find easier to learn, such as Spanish and French.

The word order, syntax, and structure of Portuguese when writing and speaking are similar to English and other Romance languages. This makes it easier to get to grips with if you already have prior knowledge of any of them.

They use nasal sounds which can be a little bit more tricky to master, but given the wide variety of resources out there, it is a modestly easy language to learn.

Italian (575 – 600 hours) 🇮🇹

Italian is yet another beautiful language, much like Portuguese and the other Romance languages.

Depending on where in the States you are, you may find that you are surrounded by Italian speakers thanks to the mass Italian immigration to places such as New York in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This has meant that Italian culture and the language have stayed very much alive in these places.

This beautiful language shares many similarities with English in terms of cognates and sentence structure. The rhythm of Italian when you are in a conversation also makes it a little easier to grasp for beginners.

The language sounds like ‘musica’. Of course, you also have the masses of Italian words that the English language has borrowed, such as pizza, pizzeria, stiletto, umbrella, and even words like dilemma and ditto!

Afrikaans (575 – 600 hours) 🇿🇦

Afrikaans is the native language of South Africa and is widely spoken all over the country. You may think, “how will that be similar to English, it’s on a different continent altogether?” but actually, Afrikaans is derived from none other than the Dutch language, and we all know how similar Dutch is to English.

Afrikaans is a beautiful language that is surprisingly easy to learn for native English speakers.

It has Dutch at its core but it is also intertwined with other dialects and indigenous languages from Africa. There are some shared cognates such as ‘ja’ which means ‘yes’ and ‘veld’ which means ‘field’.

Spellings are also relatively simple, with many words being pronounced how they are spelled. There are also fewer singular and noun genders to learn than other languages, which makes it easier to learn.

Norwegian (575 – 600 hours) 🇳🇴

Norwegian is another Germanic language just like English and so it is relatively easy to get to grips with as a native English speaker. There are many shared cognates between the two languages, making the words easy to recognize and pronounce, as well as having simple ways of creating tenses and possessives.

These grammatical constructs are often difficult to grasp for many languages but the simplicity of Norwegian grammar makes it a little easier.

Some shared cognates include ‘katt’ which of course means ‘cat’, ‘busk’ which means ‘bush’, and our personal favorite (because it is so simple but looks so much more pleasing to the eye than our boring spelling) ‘snø’ which means ‘snow’.

Swedish (575 – 600 hours) 🇸🇪

Similar in many ways to Norwegian, Swedish is yet another Germanic language that is a little simpler for native English speakers to learn. Like Norwegian, it shares many different cognates with the English language, and pronunciation can be guessed relatively easily when you look at the spelling of certain words.

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There is some memorization needed of their verb forming rules and their articles. However, when you have that down, the rest will come relatively easily, especially since there are so few of them (No, really! The only verb ending that needs to be used is -är!).

Romanian (575 – 600 hours) 🇷🇴

Surprisingly, another relatively easy language for native English speakers to get to grips with is that of Romanian. The Romanian language is a beautiful amalgamation of Russian sounds and Italian sounds, resembling each of them in different ways.

First and foremost, it is a Romance language, but you cannot deny its Slavic influences, especially when you consider that Romanian once used the Cyrillic script.

Nowadays, Latin script is used, which is why native English speakers find it a little easier. Because of its Latin roots, Romanian does share some cognates with the English language, and because of its phonetic form, pronunciations are easier to get to grips with.

Esperanto (575 – 600 hours) 🤔

Esperanto is a relatively modern language, as far as languages go. The main goal of the language was to create something that was universally simple. Therefore, it is relatively easy for all speakers to learn, regardless of their native language.

It was created by a Polish man in the late 1880s to make a phonetic language that would be predictable and easy to understand.

It is not widely spoken and resources for it are sparse compared to other languages on this list. But its simplicity warrants an inclusion. It is thought that the language may begin to rise in popularity, though, since it is featured on the popular language immersion app, Duolingo.

German (750 hours) 🇩🇪

Up until now, all the languages we have discussed have had estimated learning times of 600 hours or less. This is a rough estimate, whether you are learning in the classroom or learning from home.

The German language is thought to take slightly longer to learn than this.

This may seem strange since it is a Germanic language, and Germanic languages are meant to be easier for native English speakers to learn. However, this time frame is not because it is more difficult per se, but rather because of the grammar rules that need to be remembered.

German has masculine, feminine, and neutral nouns to learn, along with conjugating verbs and a syntax that must be followed, or else the meaning can be lost.

This is the part of the language that takes the longest to get to grips with, hence why it is a little further down the list. However, once you have the grammar down the rest is much simpler.

Pronunciation and spelling are, on the whole, much simpler to learn, and there are also many shared cognates such as ‘mutter’ which is ‘mother’, and ‘kaffee’ which is ‘coffee’. There are plenty of German language resources available online.

Swahili (900 hours) 🇰🇪

This toneless African language is thought to be one of the easier African languages for native English speakers to learn. This may be because it is influenced in many ways by English and some of the more familiar Romance languages.

A large portion of its vocabulary comes from Arabic, meaning that will be the main hurdle for non-native speakers to overcome.

However, if you are looking for a modest challenge then Swahili is a great language choice for you. Swahili does share some cognates with the English language such as ‘gereji’ which means ‘garage’ and ‘friji’ which means ‘fridge’. There is also a welcome lack of verb conjugation, which is great news for learners, especially since this means that the sentence structure stays simple and short.

Indonesian (900 hours) 🇮🇩

Indonesian is another language that is modestly easy for a willing learner who speaks English natively to pick up. The reason it is so simple to pick up is because of the similarities it shares with English.

Sure, it is a little more difficult because it takes around 900 hours, but the alphabet is Latin script, meaning it is something you will be used to, and the words are phonetic meaning they are said how they are spelled.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are also no tones used in the Indonesian language, so you will not have a difficult extra element to learn.

Welsh (1040 hours) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Welsh, the language of Wales (England’s neighbor) is a beautiful ancient language spoken by around 29% of the population in Wales. However, whilst it is very close to England, that does not mean the languages are similar.

Welsh is a reasonably difficult language to get to grips with for native English speakers, even those English speakers who have lived in Wales for their whole life!

That being said, it is more than doable and there are a wealth of resources out there if you choose to learn this beautiful, song-like language.

You may assume that the Welsh language is Germanic due to being on the border of England and so close to the other countries with a Germanic language. However, it is a Brittonic language of Celtic origin.

It is full of mutations and consonants that are unfamiliar to an English speaker, but with some memorization and an eagerness to learn, it is certainly possible.

The hardest languages for native English speakers to learn

The 28 Easiest and Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers - Travel Lingual (2)

Icelandic (1100 hours) 🇮🇸

Iceland is known to have some pretty difficult words to pronounce, from place names to everyday words. Many of their words are very long with unfamiliar letters and letter sounds such as Þ and Ð.

As a country, Iceland is relatively cut off from other places and so they have been able to retain some of their traditional language and grammar rules.

For example, the noun system is different from most other languages you may have heard of since it has three genders and two numbers. To learn Icelandic you must be prepared to study, memorize rules, and really put in the work. This makes it a very unique language to write, speak and hear.

Nevertheless the language is a beautiful one, steeped in history. Furthermore, whilst it is known to be difficult to learn and takes a long time, the result makes it worthwhile.

Persian (1100 hours) 🇮🇷

Persian is most likely known to you under one of the names of its dialects. For example, it is spoken in Iran and called Farsi. In Afghanistan, it is called Dari, and in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, it is known as Tajik.

Persian is, first and foremost, an Indo-European language and so this makes it a little similar to English.

However, in general, it is much more difficult than other Indo-European languages because it uses a different alphabet or script system. The Persian language uses the Arabic script, something that native English speakers are unfamiliar with.

They also write right to left, which is very different from English writing.

There are also no capital letters in Persian writing, making it difficult to decipher as an English speaker. That being said, we do have the Persian language to thank for many words that we use in English such as kiosk and bazaar, so you may well find some similarities within this beautiful language!

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Georgian (1100 hours) 🇬🇪

Georgian is a language that is very unique as it has its own script. You would not be alone in assuming that it would be a Slavic language given its proximity to Russia and other Slavic countries.

However, the language family it belongs to is the relatively small Kartvelian. Georgian script is unicase, meaning there are no capital letters and it runs from left to right.

The latter fact will be a welcome discovery for those still reeling from the discovery that Arabic goes right to left! There are a number of different dialects of Georgian, depending on where you are speaking it, but the most common is the one spoken in Georgia itself.

Many of their words feature many consonants, as well as beginning with two consonants which can be jarring for a native English speaker. Nevertheless, Georgian is a beautiful language, particularly when listening to the music of the country.

Russian (1100 hours) 🇷🇺

Russian is the largest of all of the languages in the Slavic family and is spoken widely in the country and around the world. Nevertheless, it is very difficult for a native English speaker to learn Russian.

The main reason for this is because of the use of the Cyrillic script. Learners need to learn a whole new alphabet and character system to understand Russian.

In addition to this, they also feature ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sounds for each of the consonants, meaning that pronunciation can be difficult to get to grips with. The stress placed upon words and sounds is also important. A Russian word could look identical to another when it is written down, but may have two very different meanings.

An example of this is the Russian words замо́к and за́мок. These two words look almost identical, but notice the very small differences of the а and the о́. These minuscule differences can transform the meaning entirely. The first of the two means ‘a lock’ whereas the second means ‘a castle’.

Polish (1100 hours) 🇵🇱

Polish is a member of the language family known as the Slavic family, meaning it is similar to Russian. However, a welcome difference between Polish and other Slavic languages is the fact that it uses an alphabet that you will be more familiar with: the Latin script.

In their Latin script, they also include an additional nine letters, which look a lot like letters you are familiar with, but still require memorization and learning in order to fully understand and use them. These letters are ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź and ż.

These new letters and the fact that Polish words also have more consonants than English words can mean that pronunciations are very difficult to grasp for a beginner, and can make spelling difficult.

Their words also tend to have more syllables than English words. For example, the English word ‘ruthless’ has just two syllables, but the Polish word for ‘ruthless’ has a whole five different syllable sounds and an astounding number of hard consonants ‘Bezwzględny’.

Nevertheless, with lots of practice and a desire to learn, it is more than achievable.

Finnish (1100 hours) 🇫🇮

Finnish is an interesting language to feature on this list because most people may assume that it would belong to the Indo-European family. You might be surprised to find out that Finnish is a very unique language.

It has no cognates or loan words, and you are highly unlikely to draw similarities between Finnish and English. It technically belongs to the Uralic family, just like Hungarian and Sami (the indigenous language of Lapland).

The grammar used in the Finnish language is complex, with around 15 grammatical cases and countless word endings. The Finnish language often uses just one word to say a whole sentence, which can be confusing for those used to the complex sentences of the English language. That being said, perhaps that is a good thing…

Gaelic (1100 hours) 🇮🇪

Like Welsh, Gaelic is another language that comes from Britain and so is very close geographically to England. However, it could not be further from English. Gaelic has two common types: Scottish and Irish.

The family they belong to are the Goidelic languages which, in turn, makes them a part of the Brittonic language family, like Welsh.

They do use Latin script, but there are many grammatical cases that can make it much more complex to get to grips with than English. The sounds they use are also very different from English and can leave you feeling tongue-tied. For example, the combination of letters ‘bhF’ makes a sound.

On the bright side, the spellings are largely phonetic, and once you have learned the grammar rules the language becomes easier.

Hungarian (1100 hours) 🇭🇺

Hungarian is a language with a reputation for being notoriously difficult to learn. Hungarian belongs to the language family known as Uralic (this also includes Finnish). Members of this language family tend to have complicated grammatical rules and more than double the amount of vowels that the English language uses.

There are a whole 35 different cases in this language; they also follow the unfamiliar concept of ‘vowel harmonies’. This is where, to keep the sounds in harmony, suffixes are added to words.

However, something that may soothe the pain of all these complex grammar rules is the fact that in Hungarian there are only three verb tenses to learn: the past, the present, and the future.

Turkish (1100 hours) 🇹🇷

Whilst Turkish has used the Latin script for almost 100 years, it is still a very difficult language to grasp for English speakers because of the sheer volume of learning and memorization of grammatical rules required.

The Turkish language features an unfathomable 30 verb tenses compared to just 3 in English!

As if that wasn’t hard enough, they also use 6 noun cases and make use of vowel harmony, which is where vowels can sometimes shift in order to sound harmonious. Because of this, many words can change meaning entirely when a suffix is added!

Mandarin Chinese (2200 hours) 🇨🇳

Chinese is a very difficult language to learn (whether Mandarin or Cantonese) due to the use of tone and of course the unfamiliar script. The tonal element of this language is perhaps the hardest aspect to get to grips with.

The letters can be learned and memorized, as can pronunciations, but the tone can take a little while for native English speakers to get right, especially if you have no native Mandarin speakers around to hear your tone and correct you if needed.

The language is also full of idioms and homophones which, without prior experience, can also be very confusing.

That being said, it is one of the widest spoken languages in the world, with over 900 million people speaking it daily. So if that is not enough motivation to learn we don’t know what is! There are many Mandarin Chinese language resources available online.

Hindi (2200 hours) 🇮🇳

The Hindi language is a relatively challenging one and takes hours to perfect to even an intermediate level. This is because the grammar, pronunciation, and even writing of Hindi is very difficult to get to grips with as it is so unfamiliar. Like the Persian language, Hindi has no capital letters, which in itself is very unfamiliar to native English speakers.

As well as this, the grammar rules are different from what we may be used to, as they follow the Subject Object Verb writing and speaking order. The script that they use (Devanagari) is vastly different from Latin and even Arabic script.

It has 47 different characters that must all be learned before you can fully get to grips with the language. On the bright side, it is phonetic, which means it is spelled how it is said and vice-versa.

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Arabic (2200 hours) 🇦🇪

We have mentioned Arabic many times already as the Arabic script is used in many different languages. However, did you know that Arabic is also a language in its own right? There are over 30 varieties of Arabic worldwide. For this reason, it is considered a ‘macro’ language because its reach is vast and extensive.

As you likely expected, Arabic uses Arabic script. This means that in order to learn Arabic you have to learn a whole new bunch of letters and characters. They also read and write right to left, which is unfamiliar for most native English speakers.

The sounds created in the language are challenging for beginners as it is so culturally distanced from what you may be used to.

On the bright side, because it is so widely spoken with many different varieties there is a wealth of resources out there to help you.

Korean (2200 hours) 🇰🇷

Korean has a reputation for being notoriously difficult for a native English speaker to learn. It is a beautiful language from a country steeped in history and, as such, many of the traditional ways of speaking still stand. For example, the language register used by the speaker depends on who he or she is speaking to. A person of authority will have a different word ending to a normal person when someone is addressing them.

Likewise, some words get added onto names as a term of endearment, respect, or politeness. There are some key grammatical rules that must be followed, such as the inclusion of suffixes on words, particularly verbs.

There are also connectors that can make sentences long, meaning they are even more complex to understand and translate.

Then, of course, there is the Korean alphabet and writing system to consider. The Korean hangul will need to be memorized when you first begin to learn the language. For all its challenges, though, it is a worthwhile language to learn with some interesting conventions.

If you are interesting in learning Korean, it is worth looking at the Rocket Korean language course, part of the Rocket Languages series.

Japanese (2200 hours) 🇯🇵

The last language on our list is Japanese. This is because Japanese has long been thought to be one of the most difficult languages ever to learn, whether you are native English speaking or not. This is because of the complex writing systems in Japan.

Yes, that is systems, plural. There are three writing systems, kanji, katakana, and hiragana. It is the former two that are most commonly used.

Kanji is a character-based system with thousands of characters to learn. Over 2000 of them are commonly used, so you need to know at least all of those. This means you will have to work hard to memorize the way words are written.

As you are getting to grips with the writing of the language, you will also need to familiarize yourself with the cultural aspects of the language.

Like Korean, there are many different ways of addressing someone. Politeness is very important in Japan and so this must be demonstrated through language in the way you address people.

Many Japanese language apps teach users the various fascinating aspects of Japanese culture whilst also teaching the Japanese language.

What factors influence whether a language is ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ to learn?

There are many reasons for which certain languages can be easy or hard for an individual to learn. For example, tonal languages can be difficult for someone who has no prior experience of tonal languages (for example, most of us English speakers).

However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and there are also many other contributing factors.

In this section, we are going to be exploring some of the main reasons why you may find a certain language easy to learn, or indeed very difficult.

This will help you to work out whether a particular language is right for you or whether you may want to start with the one that is more similar to your native language.

Language Types

Many languages are similar to other languages. English, for example, has many similarities to other Germanic languages (think German and Dutch). For this reason, many native English speakers may find that these languages are a little easier to learn than a language such as Chinese Mandarin or Arabic.

That being said, several different factors may affect how easy or difficult a person finds it to learn a specific language.

Some tonal languages may be particularly difficult for English speakers, as this is not something that they are used to. However, for someone who has a tonal native language such as Thai, they may find it easier to learn other tonal languages – an example of this is Vietnamese.

The writing system

A large part of learning a language is learning how to write it. This can help you practice more and learn it far quicker.

However, if the writing style is very different from what you are used to then you may well struggle to get to grips with this at first.

Some languages do not use the alphabet as we know it. By this, we mean some may not use what is known as the Latin alphabet (A, B, C, D, etc.), using the Cyrillic, Arabic, or Kana System (among many others) instead.

Some writing systems require writing from right to left, as opposed to the left to right method that Germanic languages (English, German, etc.) use. Obviously, this can be confusing to someone who is new to learning languages.

If the writing style is very different from what you are used to then you may well struggle to get to grips with this at first. This problem is observed among many students, so they often turn to services like Thesis Rush, which helps with all kinds of writing theses, dissertations, or papers.

Services such as Custom Writings can also help with these learning these methods, as well as provide assistance with college or university assignments.

Grammar

One important concept that can affect whether a language is learned easily by a native English speaker is the grammatical framework. If the grammar structure of the language you are learning is similar to your native language, it will undoubtedly be easier for you than if it were not.

Many popular world languages have very different grammatical structures to English. These differences include word order differences, tenses, and even the inclusion of gender into language.

This can be difficult for a learner to get used to, especially if it is not something that they have ever come across before.

The language family

Language families are languages that are grouped because they are related in some way through descent. They often descend from the same common parental or ancestral language and can branch off to form many other unique languages.

An example is the large group of languages called the Indo-European language family. This family contains sub-groups of languages, namely the Germanic languages, the Romance languages (Spanish, French, and Portuguese among others), and Balto-Slavic languages (Prussian, Russian, Czech, Latvian, and more) to name but a few.

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Typically, it is thought to be easier to learn a language that is in your language family or sub-group. This is because there may be similar cognates and some loan words that you will recognize.

You may even find that some of the vocabulary words are easily identifiable because they are similar to words in your native language.In comparison, a language that is not in your language family may be more difficult to get to grips with.

Physical and cultural distance

How far away the country that the language belongs to (both physically and culturally) can also be an influencing factor in how easy or difficult a language can be to learn.

This is because you have less chance of being able to interact with other speakers as you go about your daily life, and also because the language may incorporate cultural concepts that you are not familiar with.

The sounds and tones of the language

The tones and sounds of a language can have a direct impact on how difficult you find it to learn. Tones are very important in some languages and are used to alter the meaning of the same sound.

Other languages may have unique and new sounds, compared with the sounds you know from your own language and alphabet. Different languages may use breathing and throat noises as part of their words which can be difficult to master for those new to the language.

How to learn a language faster

As we highlighted in our introduction (remember that, it seems like ages ago, so you can skip back to the beginning of the article for a refresher if you wish) there are many reasons why a person may want to learn a new language. Ask yourself some questions:

Why is it important to you that you embark on this learning journey?

What will help you to persevere even when it starts to get difficult?

These things will help you to stay focused and will motivate you to keep going, even when there are days where the learning is less enjoyable.

Find a buddy

As we just mentioned, it can be very rewarding to make a friend who is on the same language learning journey as you. However, not only is it rewarding to form a friendship in this way, but it can also be beneficial to your learning journey. You and your buddy will be able to help each other.

For example, you may seek out a language teacher who specializes in your chosen language or may start to visit a store where a staff member speaks the language. Ask them honestly whether they would mind helping you as you learn their language. You could even hire a teacher or tutor for yourself, or attend language classes to help you along with your journey.

Practice daily

Daily practices will help you to form your language learning into a habit. Even if it is just ten minutes a day, it is enough to keep what you have learned fresh in your mind. Try one of the countless language learning apps, watch online videos of people teaching the language, or challenge yourself to read a chapter or an article in your chosen language.

You could even try changing the language on your cell phone! It is no good attempting to learn a language but only practicing once or twice a week. Practice little but often and you will likely find that things stick in your head much faster and more easily. This will boost your confidence and enjoyment of the language, making you want to learn more.

Speak it out loud

When you are learning a language alone, it can be difficult to find the time to practice speaking it. Especially if you have no one around you who speaks it. Speak aloud to yourself or record yourself doing it using your smartphone, computer, or a recording device. By doing this you can hear whether you are pronouncing things correctly and will be able to compare them to audio of native speakers.

This is especially important if the language you are learning is a tonal one.

Watch some TV

Yes, we are being serious! One of the best ways that you can learn a language is to fully immerse yourself in all aspects of it, including different types of media in that particular language. For example, if you are learning Korean, find yourself some Korean movies or TV shows to watch. If you are learning Spanish, get some Spanish music on or tune into a Spanish soap opera.

You can also find some of your favorite movies and shows that you already know well and watch them in another language. Sure, they will likely be dubbed, but it will be extremely beneficial as you will already know what is going on and you will have a chance to hear the language in a familiar setting.

Easiest and Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers: Bottom line

The most important thing that we want you to take away from this article is that even though some languages may be easier for a native English speaker to learn than others, it does not mean the ‘harder’ languages are out of your reach.

With dedication, motivation, lots of passion, and enthusiasm to learn, you will be able to master any language you want. The only barrier you need to overcome is yourself.

Follow our tips in the section above to help you learn your chosen language a little quicker, and always keep in mind that good things take time. You will have noticed that even the ‘easiest’ languages on this list can take between 575 and 600 hours.

That is a huge amount of time, and even then you will only be at intermediate, conversational level.

Learning a language is a lifelong skill and you will be learning it forever – but guess what?

That is what makes it so wonderful. It is something you can keep on developing over time… and once you have learned a second language, you will have an appetite for learning more, which will become even easier when you have more languages under your belt!

Above all, have fun. There will be times where you feel like giving up, but keep persevering. You will be glad you did when you hold your first conversation in your new language with a native speaker!

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FAQs

What is the easiest language for English speakers to learn? ›

And The Easiest Language To Learn Is…
  1. Norwegian. This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language to learn for English speakers. ...
  2. Swedish. ...
  3. Spanish. ...
  4. Dutch. ...
  5. Portuguese. ...
  6. Indonesian. ...
  7. Italian. ...
  8. French.
Nov 9, 2021

What are the top 10 easiest languages for English speakers? ›

10 Easiest Languages for English Speakers to Learn
  • Spanish. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Swedish. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • Romanian. ...
  • Hindi. Hindi is an official language of India, where at the last count more than 500 million people (over 50% of the population) spoke Hindi as either their first or second language.
Nov 3, 2022

What language is hardest to learn for English speakers? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

What is the 3 easiest language to learn? ›

Easiest (about 600 hours of study)

Of these, Spanish and Italian are the easiest for native English speakers to learn, followed by Portuguese and finally French.

What is the closest language to English? ›

Except for Frisian, Dutch is linguistically the closest language to English, with both languages being part of the West Germanic linguistic family. This means many Dutch words are cognates with English (meaning they share the same linguistic roots), giving them similar spelling and pronunciation.

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

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

Which language has hardest grammar? ›

The grammar of Hungarian is significantly different from that of Indo-European languages such as English. The language has no grammatical gender and it uses suffixes instead of prepositions which makes Hungarian one of the most difficult languages in the world.

What are the 8 hardest languages to learn in the world for English speakers? ›

Let's explore the 10 hardest languages for English speakers to learn, and the challenges they deliver:
  1. Mandarin. Mandarin is spoken by 70% of the Chinese population, and is the most spoken language in the world. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. Japanese. ...
  4. Hungarian. ...
  5. Korean. ...
  6. Finnish. ...
  7. Basque. ...
  8. Navajo.
Sep 16, 2022

What is the 7 hardest language to learn? ›

7 Most Difficult Languages to Learn for Native English Speakers
  • 1 – Chinese (Mandarin)
  • 2 – Arabic.
  • 3 – Japanese.
  • 4 – Korean.
  • 5 – Hungarian.
  • 6 – Finnish.
  • 7 – Xhosa.
Feb 7, 2020

What is the hardest language to speak fluently? ›

Mandarin

As mentioned before, Mandarin is unanimously considered the most difficult language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system.

What is the 3rd most useful language? ›

Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world after Chinese and English. It's also the native language of more than 400 million people across 44 countries, which makes it one of the most useful languages to know.

What is the easiest language to understand? ›

We've used data from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) to rank them from the easier to the somewhat more challenging.
  • Frisian. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
Oct 24, 2021

What is the simplest language? ›

Riau Indonesian is different from most other languages in how simple it is. There are no endings of any substance, no tones, no articles, and no word order. There is only a little bit of indicating things in time.

Is English closer to French or Spanish? ›

For Spanish and French, their lexical similarity is about 75%. In comparison, Spanish and English have a lexical similarity of only 30-50%, and French and English of only 40-50%. That's because not only are the Spanish and French languages neighbors, but from the same family of romance languages.

What foreign language is most like English? ›

However, the closest major language to English, is Dutch. With 23 million native speakers, and an additional 5 million who speak it as a second language, Dutch is the 3rd most-widely spoken Germanic language in the world after English and German.

Is English closer to German or Latin? ›

English vocabulary comprises 29% French, 29% Latin, 26% Germanic, and 6% Greek.

What is the best language for an American to learn? ›

If we consider the number of speakers, location, career possibilities and ease of learning, the overall three best languages for Americans to learn are (drum roll, please): Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese.

What is the most useful language? ›

1. English. English is one of the most important languages for business, as it's spoken by around 1.35 billion people around the world as a first or second language. Many top economies also use English as an official language, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

What is the sweetest language in the world? ›

According to a UNESCO survey, Bengali has been classified as the sweetest language in the world. As a language, Bengali is widely spoken all over India, including Assam and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The sweetest language in the world is also recognized in the Constitution of India.

What is the most complex human language? ›

With less than a thousand speakers, Tuyuca is considered the world's most complex language. It is named after the ethnic group whose people are its native speakers. It is spoken in a few areas of Brazil and Colombia. It has up to 140 noun classes and each of them are indicated by a different suffix and prefix.

Can you learn a language while sleeping? ›

A new study suggests some language learning can take place during sleep. Researchers from Switzerland's University of Bern say they discovered people were able to learn new language words during deep levels of sleep. Results of the study recently appeared in the publication Current Biology.

What is the 20 hardest languages to learn? ›

The Hardest Languages to Learn for Native English Speakers
  • Hindi (17/30) Number of native speakers: 260 million. ...
  • Polish (17/30) Number of native speakers: 45 million. ...
  • Czech (17/30) Number of native speakers: 10.7 million. ...
  • Persian (18/30) ...
  • Gaelic (18/30) ...
  • Arabic (19/30) ...
  • Korean (20/30) ...
  • Mandarin Chinese (21/30)

What is the hardest language to master? ›

The 9 Hardest Languages to Learn
  • Chinese – the most spoken language in the world and the hardest language to learn for English speakers. ...
  • 3. Japanese. ...
  • Korean. ...
  • Polish. ...
  • Finnish. ...
  • Hungarian. ...
  • Turkish. ...
  • Russian. Boasting more than 150 million speakers around the globe, Russian is certainly one of the most used languages in Europe.
Feb 27, 2019

Is Japanese hard to learn for English speakers? ›

The Japanese language is considered one of the most difficult to learn by many English speakers. With three separate writing systems, an opposite sentence structure to English, and a complicated hierarchy of politeness, it's decidedly complex.

What are the 8 hardest languages to learn? ›

8 Hardest Languages to Learn In The World For English Speakers
  1. Mandarin. Number of native speakers: 1.2 billion. ...
  2. Icelandic. Number of native speakers: 330,000. ...
  3. 3. Japanese. Number of native speakers: 122 million. ...
  4. Hungarian. Number of native speakers: 13 million. ...
  5. Korean. ...
  6. Arabic. ...
  7. Finnish. ...
  8. Polish.

What is the 20 hardest language in the world? ›

25 Hardest Languages to Learn, Ranked
  1. Mandarin. No. of speakers: 1.3 billion.
  2. Arabic. No. of speakers: 274 million. ...
  3. Japanese. No. of speakers: 126 million. ...
  4. Korean. No. of speakers: 80 million. ...
  5. Thai. No. of speakers: 60 million. ...
  6. Vietnamese. No. of speakers: 77 million. ...
  7. Hindi. No. of speakers: 615 million. ...
  8. Icelandic. No. ...
Jan 25, 2023

What is the 5 hardest language? ›

5 of the most hardest languages to learn in the world
  • Mandarin.
  • Japanese.
  • Arabic.
  • Xhosa.
  • Russian.
Apr 13, 2022

How long does it take to become fluent in a language? ›

True language fluency requires consistent effort and time, and while 500 – 1,000 hours may seem like a lot, a typical person could probably invest that level of time over 12 – 18 months, with the right study schedule.

How hard is Russian to learn? ›

Russian is allegedly one of the most complex languages to learn; its Cyrillic alphabet is enough to scare you away. In fact, the Foreign Service Institute classifies it as a category-four language. But don't let that intimidate you. Learning the Russian language is far from impossible.

Why is English hard to learn? ›

So many things make learning English difficult and confusing. Its grammar structure, its spelling, meanings and rules that contradict existing rules are difficult to master. But remember that the situation is the same for English speakers trying to learn a foreign language.

What is the most understood language in the world? ›

1. English (1,452 million speakers) According to Ethnologue, English is the most-spoken language in the world including native and non-native speakers.

Is Navajo harder than Chinese? ›

There are very few similarities when it comes to pronunciation, grammar and speech levels. If your mother tongue is a Romance Language, Chinese will be harder for you.

Which is the easiest language to learn in the world? ›

5 easy languages to learn
  • English. It's the most widely spoken language in the world, making practice possible. ...
  • French. French has over 100 million native speakers and is – as the official language in 28 countries – spoken on almost every continent. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • Swahili.

What is the simplest language in the world? ›

Riau Indonesian is different from most other languages in how simple it is. There are no endings of any substance, no tones, no articles, and no word order. There is only a little bit of indicating things in time.

Which languages are worth learning? ›

The Most Important Languages To Learn In 2021
  • Mandarin Chinese. With over one billion Mandarin Chinese speakers in the world, of course it tops the list of most important languages to learn in 2021. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • German. ...
  • French. ...
  • Arabic. ...
  • Russian. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • 8. Japanese.

Is it harder to learn Spanish or English? ›

To conclude, we can say that 1) Spanish grammar is more complicated to learn than English grammar (if your mother tongue is not a Romance language) and 2) the pronunciation and spelling in English are more complex than in Spanish.

Which is easier Spanish or French? ›

Spanish grammar is considered more difficult to understand than French grammar. The vocabulary of the French language is less challenging because of the similar words French and English share. Vocabulary is harder to learn in Spanish because there are less similar words to the English language.

What is the rarest language in the world? ›

What is the rarest language to speak? Kaixana is an unknown language spoken because it only has one speaker left today. Kaixana has never been very popular. But it had 200 speakers in the past.

What is the most rarely used language? ›

Current data states that there are only 7 remaining speakers of the language. Written records are available, such as a dictionary and several books that show the grammar and syntax of the Dumi language. Dumi is the world's least spoken language and one of the rarest.

What is the slowest language? ›

They found Japanese and Spanish, often described as “fast languages,” clocked the greatest number of syllables per second. The “slowest” language in the set was Mandarin, followed closely by German.

What is the most straightforward language? ›

1. Spanish. Speak English or one of the romance languages. You will find it very straightforward to study, understand, talk, and write in Spanish.

Can you learn a language just by listening? ›

Generally, you do have the ability to learn a language just by listening. You can see evidence for this in children: kids start comprehending language even before they speak it. The good news is that you can apply a similar strategy in your own studies.

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