What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

Updated: June 22, 2022
Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm

English native speakers might sometimes forget that there are other languages out there.

English may be one of the most-spoken languages in the world, and it's the so-called “language of business,” but there are plenty of places where no-one understands a word.

So, if you're new to learning a foreign language (as an adult) it might be a good idea to start with something that is easy for you, rather than breaking your back, losing all motivation and hope, and never learning another language again.

In this post I'm listing a few options that you can use as inspiration for this next language to learn (the easiest possible one!)

Learning a second or third language can be greatly beneficial for English speakers. If you're thinking of traveling Asia, learning Mandarin or Japanese can land you cushy tutoring jobs. Being able to communicate with your hosts and employers earns you equal-footing in the workplace, and respect with your co-workers.

easiest language to learn

If you're traveling or working in Latin America, learning Spanish will dramatically enhance your experience with the people and communities throughout the central and southern countries. Learning a second language is a utility and skill that few people have in the world.

However, some languages are easier to learn than others.

Mandarin and other Asian vocabularies are challenging for most people to grasp, and not everyone can afford a private tutor and plenty of time to master the basics. Even the tech genius Mark Zuckerberg confessed it took him 4-years to get a footing in his understanding of the language.

So, what is the easiest language to learn? Here are our top 10 choices if you're thinking about expanding your repertoire.

Top Tips for Picking a Second Language

When you're going through the prospective languages for your second tongue, think about which language will benefit you and your lifestyle most.

You can use these questions as guidelines for picking your next language.

1.     Does the Language Have a Similar Structure and Flow?

Every language across the globe has a root. When tracing the origins of the English language, we find that it has humble beginnings in the Proto-Indo-European family of languages.

As a result, derivatives of these languages are easy for English speakers to master.

Languages like Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian, and French also have roots in the Proto-Indo-European languages, making them the top choices for selecting a second tongue.

Therefore, you'll have better success with phonetics, vocabulary, and pronunciation when studying these languages.

Trying to do the same in the Asian languages, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, will take you much longer to master the basics.

2.     Do You Have the Opportunity to Practice?

One of the most critical aspects of learning a language is practice. You can read or listen to dozens of books and audio programs on the language you're learning. However, you'll struggle to pick it up unless you get the chance to practice.

Speak to any person that ever learned a second language, and they'll tell you repetition and practice are the keys to fluency. Therefore, if you're studying a language, make sure you have plenty of opportunities to practice with other people that are fluent in the tongue.

For instance, if you do decide to learn an Asian language, visiting Chinatown for a meal allows you to practice your mandarin when ordering your lunch from a restaurant menu. If you're learning Spanish, finding local community centers around the South-western US will enable you to meet people who are fluent in the language.

If you don't get an opportunity to practice, it's going to take you much longer to become fluent in your second tongue.

3.     Is There Any Future Utility for the Language?

When deciding on your second language, ask yourself if it has any utility in your life.

For instance, Spanish may be the second-most spoken language in the United States, but if you're living in a place without any Spanish speakers around you, and you don't have any family members who speak it – then it's not a good fit for you anyway.

Perhaps you're studying to be a French chef, or you intend on moving to Paris after you graduate.

The Top 10 Easy-to-Learn Second Languages

So, what is the easiest language to learn? In this section I've selected a few candidates, and attempted to rank them based on a few criteria.

Note: This is by no means a scientific approach, and your mileage may vary significantly from these notes.

Similarity – How similar is the language to English?

Does it have many similar language patterns? Is the pronunciation the same? How does vocabulary compare?

Opportunities to practice – Are there many opportunities to practice this second language?

Where can you find other people that are fluent, and how often could you practice?

Utility – How useful will the language be in your life?

For instance, you might be fascinated with Mandarin.

However, if you never intend to go to China or Asia, then learning the language is largely pointless.

User-friendly Learning – How easy is it to pick up the language?

Will you be fluent in a few months with plenty of practice, or is it going to take you years to master the basics?

All of these criteria factor into my decision when selecting the top 10 languages that are the easiest for English speakers to learn.

1. Spanish

  • Similarity: 7/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 9/10
  • Utility: 9/10
  • User-friendly learning: 9/10

Spanish is the official language of 20-countries, and it's spoken throughout central and south America. This European language made it's way to the Americas with the early settlers that colonized the territories.

Spanish doesn't come from the same language linage as English, but it's remarkably similar in many ways. The rise of Hispanic communities in the United States makes Spanish a handy language to have as your second tongue.

There are also plenty of Spanish channels available on American TV and loads of opportunities to speak Spanish in your local community.

2. Portuguese

  • Similarity: 7/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 9/10
  • Utility: 9/10
  • User-friendly learning: 8.5/10

Portuguese is a great language to learn if you want to travel to Brazil. Everyone in Brazil speaks Portuguese as their first language, and it's a challenging dialect to master. Many Brazilians live in America, starting martial arts schools, restaurants, and hotels throughout southern California.

If you already speak both English and Spanish, then Portuguese offers you the next best option. If you understand Spanish, you'll find it easy to grasp the fundamentals of Portuguese.

3. French

  • Similarity: 7/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 7.5/10
  • Utility: 7/10
  • User-friendly learning: 8.0/10

The romance of learning the language of love. French is a relatively easy language for English speakers to learn. However, it's more challenging than Spanish or Portuguese. There are 17-verb formats, and you'll have to learn gendered nouns. The accents and silent pronunciation also make it challenging to master the fundamentals.

However, there are plenty of nations around the world that speak French. From Northern African countries to the Tahitian islands in the Pacific, French is a handy language to learn if you want to go traveling the tropics.

4. Italian

  • Similarity: 6.5/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 7.5/10
  • Utility: 7/10
  • User-friendly learning: 8.0/10

Italian is somewhat like learning Spanish.

The only drawback with Spanish is that there are very few venues to practice the language locally. You'll have to join an Italian language club to practice your speech. Or maybe you can make a friend in Italy over Facebook and have a chat from time to time.

However, Italian is a beautiful language, and it's easy to pick up once you finish mastering the basics. More than 65-million people around the world speak Italian, and let's not forget about the legendary cuisine from Italy.

Learning an Italian menu is a great way to start understanding the nuances of the language!

5. Esperanto

  • Similarity: 7/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 6.0/10
  • Utility: 5.0/10
  • User-friendly learning: 9/10

Esperanto is a constructed language (conlang) invented by the Polish ophthalmologist, L. L. Zamenhof in 1887. Zamenhof's idea when creating the language was to make a completely regular language using vocabulary from a few different European languages (and Russian).

This makes Esperanto extremely easy to learn, as many of the words sound familiar, and the grammar is 100% regular – no exceptions at all.

Esperanto brings together the commonalities of many different European languages while allowing the speakers to retain their initial national identity and culture.

While Esperanto is different from the other languages on this list in the sense that it is not an official language of a country. Instead, speakers from all over the world meet at conferences, events, chat rooms, and meetups both virtually and in-person.

Esperanto is extremely easy to learn, and numerous studies have been produced showing that learning Esperanto first has dramatically increased the results of future language learning.

6. Dutch

  • Similarity: 8.0/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 5.0/10
  • Utility: 6.5/10
  • User-friendly learning: 8/10

Dutch is a fantastic language to learn, and it comes from the same family as the English language. The biggest challenge with learning Dutch is the pronunciation of words. However, once you get it, you'll find many of the same verbs and phonetics are in common with English.

Dutch doesn't have much use outside of Holland. However, there are communities of Afrikaners in South Africa that speak a broken form of Dutch called “Afrikaans.” Afrikaans is like Dutch in many ways, but with a smoother sound to the pronunciation.

7. German

  • Similarity: 7.0/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 7.0/10
  • Utility: 5.0/10
  • User-friendly learning: 6.5/10

German is challenging to learn and has many of the same complexities as French. However, if you have a tutor, it's relatively easy to pick up the basics when speaking the language.

German doesn't have much use outside of Germany, but there are communities of Germans throughout the world that speak the tongue. Argentina is said to have one of the largest German-speaking communities outside of Germany.  

8. Swedish

  • Similarity: 7.0/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 6.5/10
  • Utility: 6.0/10
  • User-friendly learning: 7.5/10

Moving into the more obscure and challenging languages to learn as an English speaker, we have Swedish. This Nordic language is easy for English speakers to pick up due to the cognates it has in common with English.

Cognates describe words from a similar family that sounds like one another. and sound remarkably like one another. As a result, when you learn the fundamentals of the language, English speakers should find it easy to add to their Swedish vocabulary.

9. Romanian

  • Similarity: 5.5/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 6.0/10
  • Utility: 6.0/10
  • User-friendly learning: 7.0/10

Romania is another language of love. Romania is one of the smaller nations in Europe, and many people would never be able to point out this tiny county on a map.

Still, Romania is a beautiful and friendly land, with interesting people and culture. The language is fluid and easy to pick up. However, you'll find limited places to practice this language, and we think it's not one of the best choices on this list.

10. Indonesian

  • Similarity: 4.5/10
  • Opportunities to practice: 7.0/10
  • Utility: 6.5/10
  • User-friendly learning: 5.5/10

So, you might find yourself wondering how on earth an Asian language could ever be easy for English speakers to master.

However, Indonesian is one of the few Asian languages that use a Latin alphabet.

As a result, you pronounce Indonesian words precisely as they sound, allowing you to master the phonetics of the language.

There are no unfamiliar characters like in the other Asian languages. With Indonesian, there are no elaborate accents, no silent vowels, and its all straightforward. Traveling through places in Indonesia, such as Bali, are so much easier when you can speak the local language.

The Final Verdict – Which Language Is the Easiest for English Speakers to Learn?

So, what is the easiest language to learn?

Based on the evidence in this post, we would have to say that Spanish offers you the easiest learning opportunity.

If you live in the continental US, then Spanish also has the most practical utility, especially if you live in the southern or western states.

There are plenty of opportunities to practice, and Spanish is the gateway language to Latin America.

Therefore, if you feel like traveling through Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Argentina, or Chile, you'll find your way around and communicate with the locals without any hassle.

Kris Broholm

Kris is the founder of Actual Fluency, and has spent the last 8 years becoming an expert in language learning software, methods, and techniques.

Originally from Denmark, he now lives in Portugal and speaks 5+ languages at varying levels. His other interests are Wine, Online Marketing, and Travelling.