The 5 Easiest (And Cheapest) Languages To Learn Online - Language Hobo (2023)

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Choosing the “right” second language to learn is an important step in your language learning journey, and can determine how quickly you pick things up, how much you retain, and even how long you persevere with your chosen language.

You’ll want to take into consideration a number of factors that make the language right for you, and that can mean choosing a language for its ease and accessibility. Some of this will be subjective, depending on your language goals, your reasons for learning, your location, and access to resources.

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There are some things that do, however, make some languages easier to learn than others, and we’ll explore them now.

What makes a language easy to learn?


Definition: If a language contains many words that have the same root as those in your native tongue, i.e., if both languages derived from the same “parent” language, such as Latin, these are called cognates.

They usually have the same sound, similar spelling, and the same meaning in related languages, making it easy for a language learner to remember words.

Example:gratulieren in German; congratulate in English.

The same writing system

Definition: A language that uses the same or similar alphabet as your native language will be a thousand times easier to learn than one that doesn’t. Learning new writing systems on top of everything else you have to learn will bog down the learning process.

Example:manzana in Spanish; apple in English vs яблоко in Russian.

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Regular, easy to understand grammar

Definition: It’s important to note that all natural languages have some aspect of irregularity in their grammar. Some languages, however, use more complex grammar than others, and for a native English speaker, many of whom simply aren’t even taught the grammar of their own language, this can get very difficult.

(Video) The secrets of learning a new language | Lýdia Machová

Choosing a language whose grammar doesn’t differ too much from your native one will ease you into the learning process a lot more smoothly.

Example: Esperanto vs Latin.

Phonetic, easy to pronounce

Definition: A language is phonetic when its words are pronounced the way they’re spelt. Letters usually have just one sound, and don’t change depending on where they appear in a word. This makes the language easy to pronounce for newcomers, and makes it less daunting.

Example:“frutas” in Spanish; “früchte” in German vs “(des) fruits” French (although it’s spelt the same as its English equivalent, it’s not pronounced at all the same!).

Access to resources

Definition: Accessibility is a big one, particularly for those who are teaching themselves. A language becomes instantly easier to learn when there are plenty of resources available.

Courses on and offline, apps, reading material, media etc. And the more ubiquitous the language, the more likely you are to find cheap or free resources.

Example: French vs Irish.

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Many native speakers

Definition: This also concerns accessibility. When learning a language, it’s imperative that you seek out native speakers with whom you can practice your speaking skills. If you’re in a country where your target language is spoken, then you have ample opportunity to use what you’ve learned.

Problems can arise when you’re not in your target language country, there aren’t enough native speakers where you live, and, even worse, the language doesn’t have enough native speakers in general.

Example: English vs Estonian.

The easiest languages to learn, and why you should consider starting with one of them

A note about English

For obvious reasons, I didn’t include it on the list. If you’re reading this article, it’s assumed that you already know how to speak and understand English, and so it would make little sense to mention it here.

It does go without saying that due to English’s ubiquitous nature, and the fact that most native English speakers are monolingual, it would be at the top of the list in terms of ease and accessibility; any learners of the language would have plenty of opportunity to practice.

Languages in order, starting from the easiest

same writing system;
easy grammar;
plenty of resources
same writing system;
reasonable grammar;
many native speakers;
plenty of resources
same writing system;
reasonable grammar;
many native speakers;
plenty of resources
same writing system;
reasonable grammar;
many native speakers;
reasonable amount
of resources
same writing system;
many native speakers;
plenty of resources

1) Esperanto

Although Esperanto is a constructed language, and has the fewest number of speakers than any of the languages on the list, it’s a great language to start with because it’s super easy to learn.

(Video) How to learn any language in six months | Chris Lonsdale | TEDxLingnanUniversity

In terms of grammar and vocabulary, you can learn the grammar in a week (seriously!), it’s very easy to pronounce, and most of its words derive from other European languages.

It’s also agglutinative, which basically means words are stuck together to form new words. This makes longer, more complex words easier to understand if you know the smaller words used to construct them.

There’s a large online community of learners, experts and even native speakers (denaskuloj) from all over the world, all excited to meet and speak with you. And the community is so dedicated to getting more people speaking, that they’ve created lots of free resources. Check out the online community Lernu!

Though media is scarce, there’s more than enough out there to get you fluent in no time.

Read my postWhy you should learn Esperanto, where I go into greater detail about the benefits of learning the language.

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2) Spanish

Spanish is my second choice. 30 – 40% of English words have Spanish cognates. This will help with remembering vocabulary. It’s also highly phonetic and won’t present you with too many pronunciation issues (minus the rolled R) .

There are nearly 500 million native Spanish speakers worldwide, with close to 100 million more who speak it as a second language. Almost a whole continent (a beautiful one at that) speaks Spanish. You’ll always be able to find speaking partners.

There’s plenty of cheap and free content for all learning levels. If you’re in the US, or have access to a VPN, you can watch Latin-American TV shows all day long on sites like Telemundo. Many games and movies have been dubbed and/or translated into Spanish.

Cheap novels can be purchased from Amazon, both physical books and eBooks.

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3) French

Although French isn’t very phonetic, there are aspects of it that make it relatively easy to learn compared to other languages:

Roughly 30% of English has French cognates. English even uses full French words that many native English speakers might not know are French! Example: the French word for “to remember” is souvenir. Sound familiar?

There are 275 million French speakers across the world. You can find native speakers on 3 continents — Europe, Africa, and North America (Canada).

(Video) Top 3 Hardest Languages to Learn

The more global speakers a language has, the more diverse the content available. There are a plethora of free and cheap resources online, plenty of native media on Youtube and some of the big streaming services.

Check out the cool, free streaming app Arte, which not only has French content with subtitles, but offers content in 5 other European languages.

If you were born or raised in the UK, the proximity to France, and the two countries’ long shared history means that most adults will have been exposed to French from childhood – whether in school, or on short breaks to France. Thus, you’ll likely know more French words than you realize, giving you a head start.

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4) Italian

It should come as no surprise that yet another Romance language makes the list. This is due to it sharing the same parent language in Latin. Pronunciation-wise, Italian isn’t as phonetic as Esperanto or Spanish, but it also isn’t as bad as French!

There are 64 million Italian speakers, the vast majority of whom live in Italy. You’ll be able to find speakers in neighboring European countries, like Switzerland, some in North America, and even a small community of retirees in Malindi, Kenya.

Unlike with most of the other languages on the list, the vast majority of native Italians don’t speak English, so if you have to communicate in Italy, you’ll be forced to use the Italian you’ve learned. A plus.

There are enough online resources available that won’t break the bank, though many of the Italian streaming services are country locked, meaning if you’re outside of Italy, you might have to use a VPN to access them.

Italian just sounds melodic! Okay, so that might not be as important as some of the other aspects contributing to a language’s ease, but it does help. I’d go so far as to say the more melodic your target language is, the more memorable it will be.

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5) German

I know what you’re thinking: German? Are you insane? German’s hard!

Yes, some aspects are. But, there are plenty of things that make it more accessible to English speakers than you might think:

Roughly 25% of English shares cognates with German. There are many words, for example, that are identical, or extremely close in the two languages. Vater/father, Mutter/mother, Apfel/apple, etc.

And consider the phrase “Blut ist dicker als Wasser”. When pronounced, it sounds almost identical to its English meaning – “Blood is thicker than water”.

(Video) How to learn any language easily | Matthew Youlden | TEDxClapham

German grammar, whilst not very easy at first glance (there are 6 ways to say “the”. Yes, 6!), is pretty regular once you learn it.

German, just like Esperanto, is agglutinative and highly phonetic. So all of those incredibly long German words you’ve seen are simply a combination of smaller, easier words. Everything is pronounced as it’s written.

For example, Einbahnstraße – one-way street.

A neat feature that no other language has, is that all nouns are capitalized, making them instantly identifiable, thus making sentences easier to parse at first glance.

There are nearly 100 million native speakers. Though the majority reside in Europe, you can find small communities of German speakers in America, where Amish communities speak it fluently.

Resources and content abound. There are plenty of German soaps and dubbed cartoons on YouTube (check out Verbotene Liebe. An oldie but a goodie). As the language is so popular, many of the free language apps offer German courses. Duolingo’s German course, for example, is pretty good.

Second-hand and digital books are available to buy from eBay and Amazon, and are downloadable from major eBook stores. There are lots of audiobooks, many of which you can find on Youtube by searching for “hörbücher”.

For a break down of the German language, check out the post German Language Basics For Beginners.

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This list, while subjective, does illustrate some of the things that make a language easy, and should be taken into consideration when choosing a new language to learn. The worst thing that you could do as a newcomer to foreign language learning, is choose a language that has, by its nature, created multiple barriers to entry.

The great thing about the languages on this list is that if you learn one, it will give you a “language discount”, making other similar languages somewhat intelligible.

So if you haven’t yet decided which language to learn, maybe try one of these five out for size. You can always move on to more complex ones once you’re fluent in your first.

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What are the top 5 most easiest languages to learn? ›

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.
Feb 29, 2016

What is the easiest language to learn online? ›

This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language to learn for English speakers. Norwegian is a member of the Germanic family of languages — just like English!

What is the simplest and easiest language to learn? ›

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

Which is the cheapest language in the world? ›

Coming in at second place as the overall cheapest language was Portuguese, with a total cost of $7626.
Difficulty (Hours)900
Ave cost per hour$7.89
Overall cost to fluency$7101
27 more columns

What is the 1 easiest language? ›

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.

Which language is best for beginners? ›

The 5 Easiest Programming Languages
  • HTML and CSS. HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language, is one of the most common programming languages for beginners, as it's often seen as the most straightforward programming language to learn. ...
  • JavaScript. ...
  • Python. ...
  • C, C++, and C# ...
  • Java.

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.

What is the most used language online? ›

English as the leading online language

USA and India, the countries with the most internet users after China, are also the biggest English- speaking countries in the world. As a result, most of the information online is created in the English language.

What is the most used language in the world? ›

These are the most spoken languages in the world
  • English – 1,121 million speakers. ...
  • Mandarin Chinese – 1,107 million speakers. ...
  • Hindi – 698 million speakers. ...
  • Spanish – 512 million speakers. ...
  • French – 284 million speakers. ...
  • Arabic – 273 million speakers. ...
  • Bengali – 265 million inhabitants. ...
  • Russian – 258 million speakers.
Jun 4, 2022

Can you learn 2 languages at once? ›

Answer: Thankfully, your brain can definitely handle learning two (or more!) languages at once! (Two down, 6,998 to go.) But there are also some ways you can make this linguistic task easier on yourself.

What's the hardest language to learn? ›

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.

How can I learn a language fast? ›

Tricks of Tongue
  1. Take risks and speak the language whenever you can.
  2. Read children's books and comic books in the foreign language.
  3. Consume foreign language media.
  4. Immerse yourself in the local culture.
  5. Make use of free foreign language podcasts and apps.
  6. Don't practice in isolation; get feedback from native speakers.
Mar 3, 2015

Which language is worth learning? ›

English is one definitely one of the most important languages to learn in 2021 and beyond. It is used in global business, worldwide travel, diplomatic affairs, and in computer technology. Not only that, but many of the top global economies are English-speaking ones — the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

Which foreign language is in high demand? ›

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is consistently ranked as the foreign language that is most in demand among employers.

Can you learn a language by listening to it while you sleep? ›

Second, this study showed people may be able to aid vocabulary learning in their sleep, but picking up a new language involves much more than that. More complex parts of a language, such as grammar and conjugation rules, are out of reach, so it's probably not possible to learn an entire new language this way.

What is the least used language? ›

Also known as Tetawo, the Tanema language is again only spoken by one person, Lainol Nalo, on the island of Vanikoro, in the easternmost province of the Solomon Islands. The population of the island is around 150, most of whom speak the related language of Tetau and speak some Tanema as a second language.

What are the top 3 languages on the Internet? ›

Content languages for websites
35 more rows

Where is the best place to learn a language online? ›

Best Online Language Classes of 2023
  • Best Overall: Rosetta Stone.
  • Best for Sign Language: ASL Connect (Gallaudet University)
  • Best for Spanish: Babbel.
  • Best for French: Wyzant.
  • Best for German: Lingoda.
  • Best for Mandarin: Verbling.
  • Best for Cantonese: Preply.
  • Best for Japanese: italki.
Feb 23, 2023

What are the three most studied languages in the world? ›

All things considered, it's not entirely surprising to find out that the most studied language in the world is English, followed by: Spanish. Chinese. Italian.

What is the number 1 language in America? ›

English is by far the most prominent spoken language in the U.S., with over 239 million English-speaking people across the country.

What is 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.

How many hours a day should you study a language? ›

For most people, around 30 minutes of active study and 1 hour of language exposure a day is a schedule that will give you great results. It's a model that's sustainable over a long period to help you reach fluency.

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

According to FSI research, it takes around 480 hours of practice to reach basic fluency in all Group 1 languages.

What is the 2 hardest language to speak? ›

The Hardest Languages To Learn For English Speakers
  1. Mandarin Chinese. Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. Polish. ...
  4. Russian. ...
  5. Turkish. ...
  6. Danish.
Feb 25, 2021

What is the 2 hardest language? ›

2. Arabic. Arabic is the queen of poetic languages, the 6th official language of the UN and second on our list of toughest languages to learn.

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

Can you learn a language in 5 days? ›

FSI research indicates that it takes 480 hours to reach basic fluency in group 1 languages, and 720 hours for group 2-4 languages. If we are able to put in 10 hours a day to learn a language, then basic fluency in the easy languages should take 48 days, and for difficult languages 72 days.

What's the most beautiful language? ›

Here are (in no particular order) the 10 most beautiful languages in the world, according to Busuu's experts
  • Italian. When it comes to the most attractive languages, for many people the native language of Italy likely springs to mind. ...
  • Arabic. ...
  • English. ...
  • (Brazilian) Portuguese. ...
  • 5. Japanese. ...
  • Turkish. ...
  • French.
Jul 1, 2021

What are the top 5 most spoken languages in order? ›

The most spoken languages in the world
  • English (1.132 million speakers)
  • Mandarin (1.117 million speakers)
  • Spanish (534 million speakers)
  • French (280 million speakers)
  • Arabic (274 million speakers)
  • Russian (258 million speakers)
  • Portuguese (234 million speakers)
May 31, 2021

What is the 4 most spoken language? ›

The 4 Most Common Languages Spoken Around the World
  1. English. While only about 360 million people are native English speakers, 1.5 billion people worldwide can speak English. ...
  2. Mandarin Chinese. Over 1.1 billion people speak Mandarin, but Chinese is not a single language. ...
  3. Hindustani. ...
  4. Spanish.
Jun 19, 2019

Which foreign language is in demand in USA? ›

French is considered somewhat similar to English making it much easier to learn for those that can already understand this (English) article, and remains a favorite among American college students as the second most-studied foreign language.

Which language has best future? ›

In this article, we will talk about top 10 programming languages of the future : 2050 outlook.
  • Python. Python is a server-side language that has a wide range of applications to boast about. ...
  • JavaScript. ...
  • Golang (Go) ...
  • Java. ...
  • C# ...
  • R. ...
  • C++ ...
  • Swift.
Nov 27, 2022

What language pays most jobs? ›

Here is the list of highest-paying programming languages in 2023, predicted based on salary data from the previous year:
  • Objective-C. ...
  • Kotlin. ...
  • Ruby on Rails. ...
  • Perl. Average Base Salary: $117,595. ...
  • C# Average Base Salary: $108,902. ...
  • Python. Average Base Salary: $116,394. ...
  • Java. Average Base Salary: $106,066. ...
  • Swift.
Dec 12, 2022

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 number 1 hardest language to learn? ›

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 7 hardest language to learn? ›

Which is the most difficult language for 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 for non English speakers to learn? ›

The Japanese language is universally considered one of the hardest languages to learn. With three different alphabets and hard pronunciations, the Japanese language deserves its own language group.

Can you learn a language while sleeping? ›

Not a lot, unfortunately. As Jennifer Ackerman notes in her splendid 2007 book Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream, learning a language while sleeping “is probably impossible, [and] attempts to teach slumbering adult subjects vocabulary of foreign languages or lists of items have failed miserably.”

What language is the hardest to write? ›

Chinese. It's no secret that Chinese has one of the most complicated writing systems out there. The seemingly nonsensical characters can be a bit much even for Chinese toddlers learning to write. This means reading can be a real struggle until you have memorized a certain amount of characters.

How quickly can you learn a language? ›

The correct answer is: “it depends,” but you probably already knew that. The next and most accurate answer is that it can take anywhere between three months to two years to learn how to speak, write, and read in a new language fluently.


1. How U.S. Military Linguists Learn Languages Fast
(Olly Richards)
2. 4 reasons to learn a new language | John McWhorter
3. Why We Struggle Learning Languages | Gabriel Wyner | TEDxNewBedford
(TEDx Talks)
4. The Health Benefits Of Learning a Foreign Language | Daria Zaikovskaia | TEDxOulu
(TEDx Talks)
5. The Easiest Alphabet #72
(Nas Daily)
6. 5 Things You Need to Know Before Learning GERMAN
(Language Hobo)


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