There are several reasons why you may want to embark on a journey to learn a new language. 

Maybe you have an international trip on the horizon. It could be because you have non-English speaking family members or friends you want to communicate better with. Simply wanting the skill of speaking a second language is one many long to have. 

Whatever your reason may be, the desire to learn a second, third or even more languages is a common skill to obtain. The truth is, learning a new language is never really easy. It’s going to take time, practice and persistence in order to be fluent in a language beyond your native one. 

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That said, there are certain languages that tend to be easier than others for English speakers. 

The United States Foreign Service Institute highlights how long it will take to learn a given language. There are nine languages that are considered to be “Category I” languages. These are the easiest to learn, being that they will take the least amount of time to learn and are the closest to English.

The institute notes that there are many factors, such as natural ability and prior experience, that are going to play into how fast someone picks up these languages, but an average time is provided.

Take a look at the nine languages laid out in alphabetical order by the institute as the easiest to learn. 

These languages take 24–30 weeks (600-750 class hours) to learn.

  1. Danish
  2. Dutch
  3. French
  4. Italian
  5. Norwegian
  6. Portuguese
  7. Romanian
  8. Spanish
  9. Swedish

1. Danish

Danish is considered a relatively easy language to learn due to its similar sentence structure and grammar rules to English. 

There are a lot of vocabulary matches between Danish and English as well. 

Although Danish is considered easier to learn than many other languages, it may not be the most practical to pick up, since there are only 5.6 million who speak it in the world, according to Babbel.  

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While you’ll be able to test out what you’ve learned on a trip to Denmark, it’s not vital to know the language on your travels, since many of those who speak Danish also speak English.

If you learn Danish, you’ll likely be able to pick up Swedish and Norwegian fairly quickly, since the three have many similarities. 

2. Dutch

A trip to the Netherlands or Belgium will allow you to freshen up on your Dutch.

This language has many similarities to English in terms of vocabulary, and many words are spelled the same or similar, like “appel” and “apple.”

Do be cautious, as some words may look the same as an English word you are familiar with but will have a different meaning in Dutch.

The way sentences are structured in Dutch is also similar to English, making it easier to grasp.

3. French

Who wouldn’t want to learn the language of love? French is widely considered the most romantic language in the world. 

Whether you are heading to Europe or want to share what you’ve learned in a romantic message to your partner, French is the language you’ll want to learn.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

Both English and French have Latin influence. 

To learn French, you’ll be using the same 26-letter alphabet as used in English, but keep in mind that pronunciation can be tricky.

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There are many words (boutique, menu, fruit and concert, to name a few) that are identical in French and in English.

4. Italian

Italy is full of rich culture, delicious cuisine and historical landmarks. There are 63 million people whose first language is Italian, with an additional 3 million who speak it as a second language, according to Babbel.

This Romance language has many vocabulary similarities to English in terms of food, such as pizza and pasta. 

The sentence structure is fairly simple to get a grasp of as well.

Italian dish

5. Norwegian

Norwegian is a pretty straightforward language to learn for English speakers. There is lots of shared vocabulary as well as easily comprehensible sentence structure.

Many favor the language of Norway to learn as a second language, since there is a good bit of leeway when it comes to how words are pronounced, so you won’t have to be so rigid about that aspect when learning. 

6. Portuguese

Portuguese is mainly spoken in Portugal and Brazil but expands far beyond the two countries.

Portuguese tends to be easy to learn for English speakers with many vocabulary similarities. Although you will want to be aware of false cognates – words that look the same but have different meanings.

If you already know Spanish, Portuguese will be even easier to learn, since the two share a number of similarities, but pronunciation is very different.

7. Romanian

While Romanian is considered to be one of the easier languages for English speakers to learn, it’s not one of the most studied. 

That makes resources more limited than other more studied languages like Spanish, French and Italian.

Don’t let the shortage of resources deter you from learning the language. There are some lessons online to look into if you’re interested. 

Watching a TV show or reading a book in Romanian are other great ways to immerse yourself in the language.

One aspect of Romanian that makes it known as an easier one to learn is that it is a highly phonetic language.

8. Spanish

Empty school chair

Spanish is one of the most-studied second languages for English speakers. This can be credited to its low level of difficulty to learn and the large number of speakers that use the language as their first language.

There are 496 million native Spanish speakers in the world, according to Rosetta Stone. 

It’s a language with high accessibility in the United States, as it’s a common class taught in schools across the country.

While verb tenses can be a learning curve for those learning the language, its similar words to English and relatively simple pronunciation make it an easier language to pick up.

9. Swedish

There are close to 11 million Swedish speakers worldwide, with more than 90% living in Sweden, according to Babbel.

The simple sentence structure and grammar in the Swedish language contribute to its ease of learning. 

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