So you want to learn a foreign language to get something off your bucket list, or to pass the time, or because your school is making you.
So you ask yourself: “What is the easiest language to learn?”
It’s a fair enough question, and something linguists argue about. And I know the answer.
Ready for it?
The easiest language to learn is the one you really want to learn.
I know that sounds like a cop out, but it’s the right answer.
Look, all languages are hard in their own way. And all languages are easy in their own way too. Arabic might have difficult sounds to pronounce for native English speakers, but it also has a very logical grammar. French has seventeen verb forms, but it also has a vocabulary that’s similar to English.
But at the end of the day, you have to put in time – a significant amount of time – to make progress in a language. The thing holding most people back from reaching their goals isn’t how difficult a language is. It’s:
- Being patient
- Staying motivated
- Not getting discouraged
- Making continual progress
If you don’t take care of all that, you are not going to learn a language, no matter how easy it is.
Here’s a personal example. I know that Esperanto is a notoriously “easy” language. It was put together logically, its grammar is straightforward, and its pronunciation is simple for English speakers.
But I personally have no interest in learning it. I learn languages to make friends, enjoy arts and entertainment, and travel. Esperanto offers very few opportunities for that, at least compared to other languages. So regardless of how linguistically “easy” it is, Esperanto is a hard language for me because it doesn’t hold my interest.
(And of course, this isn’t to denigrate Esperanto or its speakers. If you enjoy it, that’s great. It’s just not my thing. In fact, since it’s a hard language for me, I admire people who are able to learn it.)
If you’re still curious about how “hard” or “easy” languages are, you can get more info at these sources:
- An article at the BBC discussing the 10 easiest languages to learn
- This Wikipedia article discussing language difficulty categories, according to the US government
- An article on my website about how to pick a language