People acquire new languages at different paces. But to certain native speakers, learning a Romance language would, for example, be less difficult than learning a Germanic one. So, what might be some of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers, such as yourself? Well, this article is here to help you figure that out.
Listed below are 28 different languages and how easy they are to learn if you’re an English native speaker. They are listed roughly in order of the language family or geographic region they belong to.
Learning a Language Faster
Before we move on to the list itself, we need to address a few issues with the learning process. Broadly speaking, individual learners will approach the topic differently. For example, some people are visual learners, while others prefer kinaesthetic acquisition.
So, are there some universal ‘shortcuts’ or ‘boosts’ with learning a new language? Well, whether you’re a complete beginner or a moderate learner, you might want to try one of the approaches listed below.
1. Practice Every Day
There’s a reason people quote the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’. Indeed, all of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers will appear difficult if you don’t put any effort into learning them.
But how much effort should you actually put into the process?
Quite a few people make mistakes here. For example, they either spend hours upon hours each day forcing themselves to learn a new language, or they simply do it once a week (or even less often than that).
Neither of these approaches works. You can’t learn a language if you don’t practice what you’ve acquired. Your short-term memory might retain a few bits and pieces, but long-term memory requires long-term exposure.
Likewise, you can’t make yourself learn something if it simply doesn’t stick. Like everything else, your brain needs time to relax and absorb the information. Otherwise, it will overflow, and you’ll end up with nothing but headaches — and no closer to learning your target language.
Instead, try practicing every day, but do it in small doses. For instance, write down a few words or sentences daily, or practice word pronunciation. You can even try to read the news or popular media in your target language but do it slowly and patiently.
Some experts also suggest changing your smart device or PC settings in your target language for constant exposure. We recommend that you do it when you’re a bit ahead with your lessons since it might be overwhelming for complete beginners.
2. Speak the Language Out Loud
You will use any language to communicate, which will involve verbal interaction 70% of the time. Yes, you’ll definitely be reading and writing using your new skill, but ultimately you’ll spend most of your time speaking it.
Now, if there are no people around who can speak the same language, simply practice saying it out loud on your own. Have a recording device next to you and press that little red REC button every time you practice. Then you can compare your results with those of native speakers, i.e., in video or audio material.
3. Find a Native and Talk to Them
English-speaking countries, such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, tend to be multicultural. In other words, you are likely to find people from many different ethnic backgrounds if you live in one of these countries.
If so, try to find a person who speaks your target language and befriend them. It’s going to be a rewarding experience for both of you; not only will you acquire a new friend, but you’ll also have a constant source of proper language use to fall back on.
Now, if there are no natives in your area who utilize your language of choice, you can always find a teacher. Make sure they are as close to you as possible and that you can afford their rates.
Of course, if you aim to learn an exotic language such as Thai, Kazakh, Xhosa, Lemerig, Guarani, or Rusyn, you might have difficulty finding a teacher. Luckily, there are other reliable options. For example, you can use the internet and connect with natives on various online platforms.
The digital platform Discord links to hundreds of servers dedicated to language learning; you can also locate a server with predominantly native members who can help you acquire any language you need.
4. Media as a Useful Tool
How many times did you run into someone from Eastern Europe or the Middle East who said, ‘I learned perfect English by watching Cartoon Network or the Discovery Channel?’ What about folks who know a lot of Spanish due to watching soap operas, Gaelic from listening to Irish folk songs, or Japanese from watching anime?
Media today is an incredibly powerful resource for learning. So, even if someone is watching a show completely devoid of any intellectual value (e.g., Ancient Aliens, Toddlers & Tiaras, or Steven Universe), they are acquiring a language through it.
That’s the mindset you need. If you want to learn a language, then immerse yourself in it. Watch TV shows, movies, cartoons, and news shows in that target language. Read current news or printed media in it.
Most importantly, browse for websites in these languages and see how people interact in comment sections or on social media — that right there is a contemporary language in direct use.
List of 28 Easiest Languages to Learn for English Speakers
Now that you have some of the language-learning life hacks figured out, let’s get into the list itself. As mentioned earlier, these languages are grouped based on their original family. In other words, if you opt for a Romance language, you’ll attain skills for learning its cousin languages more easily in the future.
Let’s start off with the most famous Germanic language on this list — German.
Globally, around 130 million people speak German as their native language. It is quite similar to English in terms of certain words and phrases. For instance, you will find a lot of cognates (words that stem from the same ancestral language) in both languages. Some examples include ‘Mutter/mother’, ‘allein/alone’, ‘Krone/crown’, ‘Doktor/doctor’, and ‘Haar/hair’.
So, German should not be too difficult to learn, at least in terms of vocabulary. In addition, much like English, German has a lot of loanwords from Romance languages as it was also influenced by Latin throughout history.
However, despite both English and German belonging to the Germanic family, you will still need a bit of time to learn German, mainly because of its grammar.
Germans use masculine, feminine, and neutral pronouns for people and objects alike- In English, you would simply use ‘it’ to refer to inanimate objects or animals. The same goes for articles; despite being inanimate objects, certain terms require articles that are either masculine, feminine, or neuter.
Those are just some examples where German grammar might make learning difficult for English natives. Other examples include specific sentence syntax rules that differ from English, as well as verb conjugation.
Estimated total learning time for the German language: 750 hours.
Dutch is, essentially, a softer form of German. On its face, Dutch might seem a bit more difficult than German, mainly due to pronunciation. However, to an English speaker, it’s quite the opposite. In fact, Dutch might just be one of the easiest languages to learn if you’re an English native.
Historically speaking, the Dutch have been one of the most prominent people groups to colonize North America. Fun fact: New York used to be called Nieuw Amsterdam back in overseas colonial times.
With such a prominent presence of Dutch settlers, it only makes sense that their language influenced contemporary English to an extent. There are lots of vocabulary and grammatical similarities between these two languages, making the acquisition of Dutch incredibly easy.
Naturally, modern Dutch also went through some changes on its own, so it’s still not exactly a cakewalk. You will need to put some hours into learning the grammar rules of Dutch. In addition, its pronunciation will require more than a few hours of practice before you get it right.
Estimated total learning time for the Dutch language: 600 hours.
Yes, Afrikaans is technically an African language. So, you might be asking yourself, ‘how is this one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers if it originates from Africa?’
Normally, that question would have some validity. Many native African languages like Yoruba, Igbo, Fula, Kanuri, and Berber have little to no similarity to Indo-European languages like English.
However, Afrikaans is actually a partially creole variant of Dutch. Let’s describe our terms real quick: ‘creole’ is a term we use for languages that developed through mixing and simplifying already existing languages over a brief period of time. In this instance, Afrikaans stemmed from Dutch, which was used by both slave owners and slaves in the southern African region.
So, aside from specific African terms and expressions, Afrikaans is basically Dutch. As such, it’s relatively easy for an English speaker to learn. Simply apply the same learning techniques you would apply when learning Dutch, and you’re good to go.
Estimated total learning time for the Afrikaans language: 600 hours.
We will get back to Germanic languages in a few paragraphs, but let’s focus on some Romance examples for now. Italian is a great place to start since it directly derives from Latin, i.e., the Pater of all Linguae in the Romance group.
Italian is spoken by roughly 85 million people around the globe, and that’s just the natives. The reason behind such popularity of Italian is mainly because of its mellifluousness. When you hear Italians talk, it’s almost like listening to music.
The rhyme, the fluidity, the flow — it’s all there. And considering that the general region of modern Italy has been a center of culture, arts, and even political thought, it’s no wonder that this language would become so well-liked by foreign learners.
So, what would make it the easiest of languages to learn for English speakers? Well, since both English and Italian have many Latin loanwords and phrases, there’s a direct correlation there.
Moreover, some of the sentence structures are similar, and the languages even use a lot of the same modern vocabulary. There’s no English speaker who can’t tell you what pizza is or how much they like spaghetti, bolognese, ravioli, etc.
Estimated total learning time for the Italian language: 600 hours.
In terms of widespreadness, Spanish might be the most spoken European language outside of English. Nearly 600 million people speak Spanish as their native tongue, with millions more acquiring it as a second language. And yes, a few million of those live in the United States.
Like Italian, Spanish is a Romance language, meaning it’s quite musical, whimsical, and rhythmic.
In addition, it’s a part of popular culture in many ways. Telenovelas are still a popular pastime of many, and modern music gives us thousands of famous Hispanic performers. Movies, video games, and even social media have made Spanish the in-crowd language, and hundreds of thousands learn it each year.
English speakers will have no trouble acquiring Spanish by consuming popular media. They are also highly likely to find other Spanish speakers in their neighborhoods. However, the grammar will still be an obstacle, especially considering how gendered Spanish is and how certain terms are simply not similar to anything in English.
Estimated total learning time for the Spanish language: 600 hours.
Portuguese is a close relative of Spanish, having developed from a variant of vulgar Latin on the Iberian peninsula. That’s why the two languages sound so similar but still have some pretty notable differences.
Of course, this comes as a boon to any learner of Portuguese since most of the same grammatical rules apply to both languages. In addition, certain syntactic constructions are the same as in English, so acquiring Portuguese will not be difficult on that front.
The only potential hurdle for an English speaker is pronunciation. Portuguese has some heavily pronounced consonants and can be quite nasal at certain points. That kind of pronunciation is just not something a native English user is used to.
In addition, you need to pay attention to which variety of Portuguese you’re learning; continental European Portuguese and standard Brazilian Portuguese are quite different in terms of vocabulary, dialects, and even certain grammatical rules.
Estimated total learning time for the Portuguese language: 600 hours.
French, widely known as the language of love, is the second most widespread Romance language, with close to 300 million people globally using it as their mother tongue.
As odd as this might seem, French has a lot of similarities with English, at least when it comes to vocabulary. That’s because roughly 50% of all modern English words come from Latin, which was introduced to England via the Normans.
Normans are, interestingly enough, descendants of the Nordic people of Scandinavia who settled in northern France and basically blended into the culture. So, technically, the Norman invasion of England involved a Germanic people group invading a blend of other Germanic people groups.
But that’s history. We’re talking about language here, and as the invasion occurred, the French (or rather, Latin) introduced by Normans had a profound effect on the local Old English speakers. For centuries, folks from England would borrow words from French, right up until the 1st World War. That’s why lots of military terms, for example, originated from French (‘general’, ‘captain’, ‘commander’, ‘infantry’, ‘officer’, etc.).
With all that in mind, French should be relatively easy for an English speaker to learn. Writing and learning vocabulary might pose some difficulty since both French vocals and consonants come with diacritics, that is, accent markers (ç, é, â/ê/î/ô/û, à/è/ì/ò/ù, ë/ï/ü). Some grammar rules might also differ, including particular syntactic structures.
Estimated total learning time for the French language: 600 hours.
Last but not least in the long line of modern Romance languages is Romanian. The Latin influence is evident in this language, but over the centuries, the region where it was spoken was surrounded by Slavs (e.g., Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs) and Hungarians. That’s why you’ll see the influence of both languages permeating Romanian even today.
Nevertheless, it’s relatively easy for an English native to learn Romanian. All they have to do is apply most of the rules that they acquired from other Romance languages and work on the pronunciation a little.
Because of its Slavic neighbors, Romanian has inherited a bit of a thick accent, somewhat harsh and tough compared to French. Its closest Romance relative would probably be Italian since they share a lexical similarity of a staggering 77%.
Of course, Slavic terms that you find in Romanian can be a bit of a hurdle. And if you aim for anything more than intermediate knowledge, you’ll have to tackle lots of loanwords from Hungarian and Turkish. Both languages profoundly affected Romanian in the middle ages and continue to do so today.
Estimated total learning time for the Romanian language: 600 hours.
Now we’re back to Germanic languages. However, there’s a reason the following group isn’t coming immediately after German, Dutch, and Afrikaans. That’s because the languages that follow all fall under one common umbrella term: North Germanic or Scandinavian.
This group contains the following widespread languages:
This group varies wildly from German and Dutch in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, and even certain grammatical rules. Nevertheless, speakers of these languages can still roughly understand each other when it comes to some basic terms.
But when it comes to Scandinavian languages in general, they are all nearly interchangeable. If you learn Norwegian, you’ll be able to talk to a Swede or a Dane without much effort due to their similarity. Some people classify them as different dialects, but that’s not the case — all of these languages are independent of one another, with their own sets of rules.
So, how does Norwegian rank among the easiest languages to learn for English speakers? Fairly high, actually — you will get the gist of it quite quickly due to similar grammar, lots of cognates, and syntax.
But as is the case with French, you’ll need to learn quite a few diacritics/accent markers and even letters with strokes (like Ø). In addition, you might need to familiarize yourself with the difference between two standards of written Norwegian, namely Bokmål and Nynorsk.
Estimated total learning time for the Norwegian language: 600 hours.
A close cousin of Norwegian, Swedish is a fairly straightforward Germanic language, though it comes with quite a few interesting dialects. Due to its roots, it’s similar to English in many ways, so acquiring it should not be a problem. In fact, if you’re already learning a different Nordic language, acquisition of Swedish would be even easier.
Articles and verb formation might pose a bit of an issue to first-time learners. However, those rules are not particularly difficult once you get into them. What’s more, they are some of the easiest when you compare Swedish to other languages on this list.
Estimated total learning time for the Swedish language: 600 hours.
Try reading the following words out loud:
Sounds (and looks) impossible, right? Believe it or not, those words denote a city, a river, a historical museum, a fjord, the term “geographic latitude”, and an ice cap. As you might have guessed, all of these listed words are written in Icelandic.
Though it’s a Germanic language, and a Nordic one at that, Icelandic is not that easy to learn. To be precise, it’s not as easy to learn as Swedish or Norwegian.
Because the Icelanders have been isolated on their island for centuries, their language remained largely the same, with minimal influence from other dialects and vernaculars from mainland Europe. Of course, that also reflected the grammar rules and pronunciation.
So, if you aim to learn Icelandic, you will need to put a bit of effort into doing so. Spelling and grammar will give you the most issues, followed by Icelandic rough, islander pronunciation of words. It’s an amazing, wild, and beautiful language, but it takes some ‘taming’ and a lot of hours to get right.
An additional difficulty is that it barely has a few hundred thousand native speakers; getting a learning buddy for it might be a bit difficult, though there are always online options for anyone who is interested.
Estimated total learning time for the Icelandic language: 1100 hours.
One particular group of languages you’ll be excited to learn is the Celtic group. Celts are as European as it gets, and they have been around for a few millennia now. Sadly, their languages are slowly becoming extinct, but they’re still going strong with the popular culture embracing Celts.
Gaelic is the perfect example of a Celtic language, and it comes in several variants, including Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Manx. Those are all commonly found and spoken in the British isles and are known as the Goidelic languages. However, they do differ from the other insular group known as the Brittonic languages, i.e., Breton, Cornish, and Welsh.
Learning any form of Gaelic might prove a bit difficult to an average English speaker. After all, Celtic languages use quite different grammatical rules to any other Indo-European language, and their pronunciation is wildly unique. Of course, the spelling is largely phonetic, so you won’t have any particular issues on that front.
Estimated total learning time for the Gaelic language: 1100 hours.
Much like Gaelic, Welsh is a Celtic language with some of the same rules. It contains lots of consonants and mutations that are entirely alien to modern English. As such, even the people who live in or near Wales, i.e., the English, have difficulty learning it.
Luckily, you will be able to learn it fairly quickly with some outside help. Like all other dialects and languages in the UK, Welsh has been preserved and continues to be spoken as an official language in the Principality. Right now, you can contact experts from Wales and go over some of the basics of the language. In addition, there’s a wealth of literature about learning and acquiring Welsh, especially for English speakers.
Interestingly, Welsh gave us the name of an unassuming fishing village that continues to make headlines. If you can read that place’s name without flinching in one go, you’ll know you’ve mastered Welsh. The fishing village is called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Estimated total learning time for the Welsh language: 1040 hours.
Here’s the first Slavic language on this list, and it’s the most widely spoken one of all. Currently, around 155 million people speak the language, the absolute majority of whom live in Russia and other East Slavic nations. It’s roughly the 8th most spoken language on the planet and the most widespread language that uses the Cyrillic script.
Of course, because of its origins, it is incredibly difficult for English speakers to learn it. Slavic languages use conjugations and declensions that don’t appear in English, and they are heavily gendered.
In addition, a beginner learner has to remember an entirely new script and its rules before they can even proceed to read or write in Russian. What’s more, the grammar rules can sometimes differ diametrically from English. In other words, you would need an entirely new mindset to start learning Russian.
Once you get past the script and the grammar, you still have pronunciation to tackle. Russian comes with a lot of hard and soft variants of certain consonants. Moreover, if you put stress on the wrong vowel, you might end up getting an entirely different word. Nevertheless, you can master this wonderful language with some effort if you’re persistent enough.
Estimated total learning time for the Russian language: 1100 hours.
Polish is also a Slavic language. However, while Russian belongs to the East Slavic family of languages, Polish is grouped as West Slavic, alongside Czech, Slovak, and Sorbian (not to be confused with Serbian, a South Slavic language).
West Slavic variants tend to be slightly easier to learn than their East Slavic counterparts. After all, they use the Latin script, making the whole process more approachable to Western learners. Moreover, Polish contains lots of loanwords from Germanic languages. In other words, you will probably run into a lot of cognates that will make the learning smoother.
However, Polish is also notorious for its use of consonants and the number of diacritics and accents. That’s why it could be insanely difficult to pronounce town and city names like Łódź, Wrocław, Szczecin, Bydgoszcz, Białystok, Wałbrzych, Włocławek, and Przedmieście Szczebrzeszyńskie.
That’s one hurdle that you will take quite a while to tackle. Once you do, however, you’ll open yourself up to a language that almost 40 million people worldwide speak fluently.
Estimated total learning time for the Polish language: 1100 hours.
Finnish stands out in Europe as one of the few languages that do not belong to the massive Indo-European family. This particular family houses every single massive language group, including Germanic, Romance, Slavic, and Celtic languages. You will also find Greek and Albanian as members of this family, as well as Armenian. But not Finnish—it belongs to an exclusive club, as does the neighboring Estonian.
Lots of people group Finnish among the Scandinavian languages due to its close proximity to Sweden, Denmark, etc. However, not a single Scandinavian can understand a lick of Finnish unless they learned it before.
Due to these reasons and more, Finnish might be an exceptionally difficult language for first-time English native learners. After all, everything from vocabulary to pronunciation and even sentence structure doesn’t fit the majority of what you have in English.
With Slavic languages, at least you can find some cognates and some similarities to even Latin. With Finnish, you might hear a single word being translated into an entire sentence; it makes sense for native Fins, but not for learners like yourself.
Estimated total learning time for the Finnish language: 1100 hours.
Hungarian is another proud member of the Uralic club, as it became a European mainstay in the early Middle Ages. Even today, millions of people in Hungary and abroad speak this sonorous, complex, and fascinating language. And other than Fins and Estonians, few people in Europe can understand Hungarian outright without proper prior learning.
Of course, with Western learners, there is some leeway when learning Hungarian. Historically speaking, Hungary was under the influence of both the Eastern Roman Empire and the Austrian Habsburgs.
With that in mind, lots of Latin and Germanic loanwords made it into the standard Hungarian we know and love today. That fact alone will make your language acquisition easier since you’ll be looking for cognates that correspond to their Germanic and Latin counterparts in English.
Everything else, on the other hand, is a bit of a steep learning curve. Essentially, most rules you can apply to Finnish also work for Hungarian since they belong to the same family. But as similar as these languages are, they are not interchangeable. You’ll still need to burn some midnight oil before learning some passable Hungarian.
Estimated total learning time for the Hungarian language: 1100 hours.
Now we’re getting into some exotic stuff!
Despite being such a niche language for Westerners, Arabic is actually incredibly widespread. This Semitic language is spoken by at least 313 million people globally. Moreover, it is the official language of the Quran, so it remains vital for religious studies across the world.
Right now, there are at least 30+ different variants of Arabic. In addition, though it uses a specific script, it’s not uniform. Some countries across the globe have their own variants of the Arabic script, and its usage may not just depend on the country you’re in but also on the region and its dialect.
Arabic is definitely not among the easiest languages to learn for English speakers, considering several key factors. First and foremost, it is a Semitic language, much like Hebrew, so a whole new set of rules applies. Next, it uses an entirely different type of script, which you have to learn from scratch. Finally, you have to read it right-to-left, quite atypical for the majority of cultures on the planet.
One key factor about learning Arabic is that you have tons of resources readily available anywhere. You can pick up an Arabic workbook online and start your journey.
Estimated total learning time for the Arabic language: 2200 hours.
As odd as it might sound, Persian is actually one of the many Indo-European languages out there, classified as West Iranian. Its speakers are pretty widespread in the Middle East and Central Asia, encompassing countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
Persian is an astounding language, spanning multiple millennia of history. And because it’s Indo-European, it’s easier for an English speaker to learn than, say, Finnish. Or at least it would have been if not for its script.
Like many other languages in the region, Persian uses the Arabic alphabet, which can be incredibly difficult to master. An added difficulty comes when you realize that Persians don’t use capital letters.
That makes it exceptionally irksome if you want to distinguish between proper names and common ones. Interestingly, German is one of those languages that capitalizes every single noun, proper or not, which comes with its own set of issues.
Nevertheless, once you handle the script, you’ll be digging into Persian and learning one of the oldest, most beautiful languages our society has created.
Estimated total learning time for the Persian language: 1100 hours.
Naturally, we can’t have Indo-European languages on this list without mentioning the greatest and most prominent “Indo” language, i.e., Hindi. According to modern estimates, over 425 million people speak Hindi as their first language, with some 120 million as their second. You’d think there would be more speakers of this language based on where it comes from, but in reality, not all of the inhabitants of India are Hindus.
So, how does Hindi rank among the easiest languages to learn for English speakers? Well, despite being Indo-European, it’s fairly hard to acquire. Not only does it follow a different word order than English, but it also uses a different script called Devanagari, which is different from any European or Middle-eastern script. In addition, like Persian, it has no capital letters.
However, one saving grace of Hindi is that it’s a phonetic language. In other words, every single sound has a corresponding symbol. To paraphrase, you write as you speak and vice versa.
Estimated total learning time for the Hindi language: 2200 hours.
21. Mandarin Chinese
Of all the languages listed here, Mandarin Chinese is by far the most widespread. As of 2022, around 1.1 billion people speak this language as their mother tongue. For comparison, around 80 million speak Wu Chinese, and around 60 million prefer Cantonese, all within Mainland China itself.
Of course, it’s a bit ironic that the most widely spoken language on the planet has to be one of the most notoriously difficult to learn. Yes, everyone knows that the Chinese language uses tens of thousands of characters in its script.
But that’s not the only difficulty you’ll have learning this monster of a language. You will also have to pay extra close attention to its grammar and syntax and the many different idioms and homophones that further confuse the learner.
But by far, the biggest obstacle is pronunciation. Even the slightest shift in tone or stress can change the word meaning or the context of a sentence. In other words, if you don’t say the word in just the right manner, you can insult your conversational partner or just confuse them pretty badly.
There are benefits to learning Chinese, however. You will literally be tapping into a thousand-year-old culture with written resources that number millions. Furthermore, you can easily find someone from China to converse with on a regular basis online. They can help you practice your pronunciation and even acquire some useful sources for further education.
Estimated total learning time for the Mandarin Chinese language: 2200 hours.
Japanese is somewhat related to Chinese, with the former being a Sino-Tibetan language and the latter belonging to the Japonic family. Their biggest similarity is in the scripts they use, with the Japanese actually perusing quite a bit of Chinese Kanji in their written works.
Of all the languages of Pacific Asia, Japanese is by far the most popular. Thanks in no small part to the culture of manga, anime, Jdorama, and video games, the Japanese influence has spread worldwide in the past few decades. Hundreds of thousands of young people across the globe are trying to learn this language, despite how hard it actually is to acquire.
Much like Chinese, the Japanese language uses a different sentence structure than English. Furthermore, there are lots of aspects of Japanese that you can’t convey in a Western language, including unspoken, context-heavy thoughts.
Interestingly, the Japanese vocabulary is quite limited when compared to Indo-European languages; for example, there are much fewer profanities in Japanese than in English.
Estimated total learning time for the Japanese language: 2200 hours.
Much like Japanese, Korean has become immensely popular in the 21st century, thanks in no small part to Kpop music, Webtoons, and K-dorama. And like its other Pacific Asian cousins, this member of the Koreanic language family will require a lot of effort to master.
Both Korean and Japanese, for example, use honorifics and suffixes that denote someone’s status or position. And while both Hangul (Korean script) and Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji (Japanese script systems) are often written top to bottom, Koreans usually read left-to-right. The Japanese, on the other hand, read right-to-left.
Learning Hangul and picking up new vocabulary is difficult enough, but remember that Korean is essentially split down the middle. North Koreans, for instance, still use an old variant of the language. On the other hand, South Koreans speak using a language with lots of English and Western loanwords. So, depending on your source, you might want to update your dictionary.
The awesome thing about Korean is that it’s a beautiful, soft language when compared to Chinese and Japanese. And thanks to its rising popularity, you can find a Korean language tutor anywhere online.
Estimated total learning time for the Korean language: 2200 hours.
Image source: Pinterest
As far as Austronesian languages go, the most widespread has to be Indonesian by far. A form of Malay, it is currently used by almost 200 million people.
Indonesian is not an easy language, especially when compared to Indo-European ones. There are, of course, certain aspects of it that make it easier to acquire than most. For example, it uses the Latin alphabet as its main script.
There have been other scripts throughout history that Indonesians have used, such as Vatteluttu, Pallava, and Java. Still, the Dutch influence contributed to the spreading and adoption of the Latin script.
And speaking of the Dutch, the Indonesian language actually has quite a few loanwords from this particular European tongue. And considering how easy Dutch is to acquire, you can use those loanwords to your advantage. Furthermore, Indonesian is not a language that’s dependent on pronunciation like Chinese, making it slightly easier to learn than other languages on this list.
Estimated total learning time for the Indonesian language: 900 hours.
Turkic languages have been around as long as Indo-European ones, and nowadays, Turkey represents the bastion of this family. And though 75 million native speakers might sound like a small number when you compare it to other languages on this list, it’s still impressive.
Regarding grammar and word construction, Turkish is insanely difficult. For example, it features six noun cases (like Latin and nearly all Slavic languages) and a mind-boggling total of 30 verb tenses. For an English speaker, that is far too many to learn easily. In addition, the language relies heavily on vowel harmony, i.e., when vowels shift around in a word to make it sound more melodious.
But there are some aspects of Turkish that can help you learn it faster. After all, it’s one of the few languages in Asia Minor that actually uses the Latin alphabet entirely. By learning this alphabet with all of its stress markers and accents, you will be ready to speak at least basic-level Turkish.
Estimated total learning time for the Turkish language: 1100 hours.
Of all the languages listed so far, Georgian might just be the most intriguing. There are less than a few million native speakers of this language, and they are all concentrated in a tiny area in the Caucasus region.
So, considering that both Asia Minor and Russia are close to Georgia, what type of language is Georgian? Is it Slavic, Turkic, or Semitic? Or is it maybe a mix of all three families, with something extra?
Well, not really. Instead, Georgian is in its own linguistic group of Kartvelian languages. This family is not related to any other established family of languages out there, making it somewhat unique. So, learning Georgian might be difficult from the outset, considering that there are really no major languages remotely similar to it.
The script can also pose a problem. Georgians use a total of three writing systems:
Of these three, Mkhedruli is the newest system, currently still in use, while the other two are mostly relegated to religious texts. The system itself does make use of capital letters. However, nowadays, most Georgians write it completely in the upper case.
Georgian will look and sound confusing to newcomers. However, it is an absolute gem of a language. And considering how few people speak it, learning Georgian is a special privilege.
Estimated total learning time for the Georgian language: 1100 hours.
No list is complete without a nice, native African language, and Swahili fits that bill perfectly. A part of the Bantu family, Swahili is currently the native language of 200 million speakers. And as far as African languages go, it’s one of the easiest for a Westerner to acquire.
Swahili is written in Latin script. Not too long ago, however, the natives would write it using Arabic script, and some Arabic loanwords have remained within the language even today. While learning those words might be a hurdle, it definitely helps that you can at least use a script that you already know.
In addition to a simple script, Swahili is also a toneless language, meaning you will not need to use a different pitch to change the meaning of a word. Furthermore, there’s also no verb conjugation in Swahili. Each sentence is short, direct, to-the-point, and devoid of any tonal complexities that certain worldwide languages do have.
Finally, despite being Arabic-influenced, Swahili also has a lot of English loanwords, as well as loanwords from other European languages. That, in and of itself, can help you progress in leaps and bounds when learning Swahili.
Estimated total learning time for the Swahili language: 900 hours.
To close this list, we went with the world’s most popular international auxiliary language, Esperanto. Created in 1880 by the Polish ophthalmologist Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, its main goal was to be a language anyone could understand and use, no matter where they might be on the planet.
Nowadays, there are barely 200,000 people who speak this language fluently. Obviously, it’s not native to any culture since it’s a constructed language, but it does remain an important part of the global culture. Learning it, incidentally, is not too difficult for an English speaker since it is specifically designed to be easy to acquire.
Estimated total learning time for the Esperanto language: 600 hours.