Three of the Easiest Languages to Learn
If you work for the government and will be headed overseas to a non-English speaking country, odds are you’ll be sent to one of the esteemed Foreign Service Institute (FSI) language learning institutes. These are the Federal Government’s primary training institutions, which prepare American diplomats and other professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas.
FSI has curated data and ranked languages according to the number of weeks and hours it takes for English speakers to become proficient in terms of reading, writing, and speaking in just about every major language spoken around the globe. Recently, we posted a blog titled, Three of the Hardest Languages to Learn, discussing the linguistic complexities of Arabic, Chinese and Korean (with Japanese being another humdinger). In the case of these three Category V languages, it takes an average of 88 weeks, or 2,200 hours of intensive classroom time. If you feel that will be difficult to fit into your busy schedule, we recommend learning one of the Category I languages, which may only take 23-24 weeks, or 575-600 hours to absorb and could definitely be considered some of the easiest languages to learn .
Give yourself a break! Learn Afrikaans, Danish or Spanish
There are 10 languages in Category I:
Three of those, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, are Scandinavian languages. Five of those, French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Portuguese, are considered “Romance Languages.” These five are all derived from Latin, so learning one of them makes it considerably easier to learn another. Therefore, Spanish may be a practical choice to learn since it is the most common Romance language spoken in the U.S., and the third-most commonly spoken language in the world, after Chinese – and English!
There are a few perks to learning Afrikaans. First, but certainly not most importantly, it makes for great dinner table conversation, because odds are nobody else you know will know anything about this language, and you can impress them with your unique skill. Secondly, and more interestingly, Afrikaans – which is spoken primarily in South Africa – has its roots in Dutch and also borrows so vocabulary from Portuguese, Malay and French. Thus, if you speak any of those languages, Afrikaans will be easier to pick up. And if you learn Afrikaans, you will find it easier to understand Portuguese, Dutch or French words and phrases.
There are 26 letters in the Afrikaans alphabet (sound familiar?). Some of the things that make it interesting include the fact that adjectives are often the most stressed words in sentence (as opposed to nouns) and it includes double-negatives – an English grammar no-no (“We didn’t not go to the party…” for example).
The wide majority of educated Danes are fluent in English. In fact, we know some people who studied abroad in Denmark and had a heck of a time trying to learn it since nobody in Denmark would speak it with them. The Danes usually prefer to forego the American students’ Danish ignorance, and speak English instead. That being said, Denmark has phenomenal education, health and social services, resulting in a population that is highly educated and loves to travel.
In technical terms, Danish is an Indo-European, North Germanic language, derived from a dialect group known as East Norse – just like Swedish and Norwegian. So, another reason to learn Danish is that you will have an easier time conversing with Swedish friends, or learning Swedish should you decide to travel to Europe. About 50,000 northern Germans speak Danish as well.
We’ve saved the best for last. Or, at least, the most relevant for most U.S. dwellers, and those who have any interest in traveling to one or more of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries in the world. Of course, it is also spoken in Spain, and Portuguese speakers often have a passing understanding of Spanish as well.
As we mentioned above, Spanish is a Romance language. If you studied your Latin roots in English, a Latin class, or biology, it will help when learning general vocabulary terms. However, there are also words that have been adopted or adapted from indigenous languages, like Mexican náhuatl or Peruvian quechua, as well as African languages and Arabic.
Other than the rote memorization of new terms, the most difficult thing about Spanish is the numerous verb conjugations. The good news is that the large majority of these conjugations follow specific and predictable patterns. Once these patterns are learned, they become easier to use.
Global Language Services
Do you work with clients who speak one of these, or the other 7, “easiest languages to learn?” If so, we highly recommend learning what you can. In the meantime, Chang-Castillo and Associates is here to assist you with all of your translation and interpretation needs. Give us a call at +1 (877) 708-0005, or contact us online – and get started!