What is the easiest language to learn for an English speaker?
Many students want to enrol into a language course in Melbourne but can’t decide which language to learn. I have been asked many times “What is the easiest language to learn for an English speaker?” and people often expect to get one clear answer to this question. They hope to get an answer such as Spanish, French or German is the easiest language to learn. But I always have to disappoint them as it depends on many different factors.
So instead of giving you one answer to this question, I want to help you to find out what the easiest language is for YOU to learn.
The first step is to lay out your language and your heritage language. What language has your family spoken in the past? For example, if your grandma speaks to you in German, then your heritage language is German.
So, let’s say your native language is English and your heritage language is German. You are fluent in English and you have an idea of the sound of the German language. Then German will be the easiest language for you to learn.
But how can you find out which language is the easiest language for you to learn outside of the native and heritage language? You need to find out which language is related to your native and heritage language. So let us assume your native language is English. English is related to German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Africans and, more distantly, to French, Spanish, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese and some others. So, in terms of vocabulary and grammar you will recognize a lot of similarities. As an English speaker you have a good list of languages to choose from!
But it also depends on other factors. Probably one of the most important factor is, which language do you like the most? You would not believe how quick you can learn a language just because you like the sound of it a lot, even if it is not related to English in any way. If you like the sound of Indonesian and you like the culture and Indonesian people you would not believe how fast you can learn the language.
The other big factor is, which language are you surrounded by? Here in Melbourne you can hear French, Italian and Spanish everywhere. In supermarkets, restaurants or university campuses. Hearing those languages every day and everywhere can help you to learn this language faster, even if it is not a guarantee. If you don’t enjoy listening to the language, if you don’t enjoy the culture, learning the language is not going to be easy.
So what are you going to do if you do not have a heritage language and you are not surrounded by another language? Well, start listening to other languages on TV, go to film festivals and find out which language sounds prettiest to you and which one you would enjoy speaking. This language does not have to be practical to learn. You may not want to learn a language in order to make money or to use it to do business. Learning a language is more than that. It is about learning about the culture and connecting with people. And this is the greatest feeling in the world. You will see how happy people are when they see that you have actually put some time and effort into learning their language and into trying to connect with their culture. All the time and effort of learning the language is totally worth it.
So my point here is, don’t let practicality get in the way of learning the language which is most suitable for you. You will find many language courses in Melbourne. If you like how Mandarin sounds, then go and learn Mandarin. Don’t listen what other people say about how difficult or easy the language is to learn. It might be easier for you than it is for others.