The Olympics portray a winning spirit of cooperation and friendship between the world’s nations. They also show off a breathtakingly diverse array of languages. According to Ethnologue, considered to be the most comprehensive resource on the subject, there are more than 7,105 known living languages across the globe. Depending on your native language, some are easier to learn than others.
English speakers have a unique advantage, thanks to both Germanic and Romance influences on the formation of the language. If you’re looking to jumpstart your quest to become a polyglot, you’re in luck: the United Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has compiled a handy list of the easiest languages for Native English speakers. Here is the Top 9 of the easiest languages to learn. Read more about language courses here.
Grammar, syntax and word order are all similar to English thanks to shared North Germanic roots. It will be with ease that you will be able to communicate in norwegian. The trickiest part of speaking Norwegian is finding somewhere to practice: most Norwegians are fluent in English, which is integrated at the primary school level in this country’s highly ranked education system. Read more about studying in Norway here.
If you’ve ever watched The Muppets, then you already know this language is famous for its pleasing musicality. Swedish and English share many words, syntax and conjugation rules. Learn four extra vowels and the unique Scandinavian “sje,” and getting your Swedish Chef on may be easier than you think. Read more about studying in Sweden here and the three top reasons why you should study in Sweden.
Think fast: Mandag, Tirsdag, Onsdag, Torsdag, Fredag, Lordag, Sondag. Sound familiar? If the days of the week came to mind, it’s not hard to understand why Danish makes the cut thanks to similar grammar patterns, a mere nine verb forms and a Germanic-influenced vocabulary. One warning: Danes speak soft and fast so listen up to learn. Read more about studying in Denmark.
There are more than 330 million native Spanish speakers in the world, and many more who have learned this language thank to its ease in everything from orthography -- in short, words are written as they are pronounced -- to grammar consistency. Once you learn the false cognates -- words that sound similar to English words, but are actually different -- you’re on your way to tackling this popular international language. It’s a worthwhile endeavor: according to a survey from the Telegraph, almost 40 percent of employers consider Spanish to be a beneficial language in the global economy. Read more about studying in Spain and in South America here. More Spanish language courses here.
5 - PORTUGUESE
Sharing similarities with Spanish and other Romance languages, Portuguese has only a handful of prepositions, not to mention intuitive interrogatives. In other words, nearly anyone can ask “Where is the university?” in Portuguese. Factor in Brazil’s rising economy -- currently ranked 6th in the world -- and learning Portuguese becomes more than simple, but also advantageous to those looking for a business edge. Read more about studying in Portugal and Brazil. More Portuguese language courses here.
Praised for its readability, this rhythmic, flowing language comes quickly to native English speakers -- particularly once they’ve mastered a few key Italian phonemes. Another reason to learn Italian? It's fun! Plus, exploring the local cuisine offers a delectable opportunity to hone your craft. Read more about studying in Italy here. More Italian language courses here.
Largely derived from Latin, French overlaps more with English than any of the other Romance languages; in fact, it’s been credited with having influenced a full third of English -- 8,000 words worth, to be exact. While gendered nouns, many verb forms, and pronunciation can be minor hurdles, learning this language, thanks to the plethora of familiar words -- apres ski, anyone? -- can be a sprint to the finish. And while mastery may take time, conversational French is open to anyone with a will to learn. Read more about studying in France, Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland. More French language courses here.
While many people assume this Romance language derives primarily from Slavic influences, Romanian’s proximity to Latin earns it a place on this list. In fact, Latin roots comprise approximately 80 percent of the Romanian vocabulary; the language's grammatical structure also comes naturally to English speakers. Read more about studying in Romania here.
This guttural, simplified Dutch language claimed the top spot in the FSI rankings for several reasons. Not only do English and Afrikaans derive from the same language family, they share similar phonetics, pronunciation and vocabulary. One difference? Afrikaans lacks both verb conjugations and gender pronouns, so these head-spinning challenges, which typically flummox early language learners, are happily not an issue. Read more about studying in South Africa here.
If you’ve been delaying adding a second language to your resume because you think it will be too challenging or time-consuming, think again: these picks offer many gold medal-worthy opportunities. But if watching the Olympics has you jonesing to learn Russian, just go for it! Even if, along with Arabic and Japanese, it is considered to be one of the more challenging languages for native English speakers to learn, with some work and patience, you can do it. Read more about Russian, Arabic, and Japanese language courses.
link_description: meta_description: If you’ve been delaying adding a second language to your resume because you think it will be too challenging, think again: these picks offer many amazing opportunities.