Advertising
Advertising

7 of the Easiest Foreign Languages to Learn

7 of the Easiest Foreign Languages to Learn

Who says learning a language needs to be hard?

The better question to ask is: which is the easiest language to learn in the shortest amount of time?

According to a European Commission survey in 2012, 61 per cent of British respondents could not speak a second language. In a world that’s becoming more multi-cultural and globalized by the second, getting by with just English is simply not enough. If that alone doesn’t get your juices flowing, knowing a foreign language has shown to help you make more money by adding 5-15% increase to one’s wage, and helps expand your career opportunities.

20140315_woc491

    We’ve already written extensively about the most useful languages to learn, but how do we decide which is the easiest language to learn?

    Playing to your strengths

    One way to hack this process is to first understand that as English speakers, we have in our hands one of the most connected languages that exists. It’s linked to many European Germanic languages by descent or influence, and over 50 percent of English words stem from Latin or French.

    ronen-et-all-wikipedia

      ronen-et-al-book-translations

        This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to most, as the structure, alphabet, and makeup of the language is very similar to Spanish, Italian, French, and other languages from the latin root.

        Bestselling author and polyglot, Tim Ferriss, says that you should consider a new language like a new sport.

        There are certain physical prerequisites (height is an advantage in basketball), rules (a runner must touch the bases in baseball), and so on that determine if you can become proficient at all, and—if so—how long it will take.

        For example, it would a wiser choice and indicate a higher likelihood of success if a professional water polo player decided to transition into playing handball: similar structures, rules, and physical requirements.

        However, it wouldn’t be too wise if Kobe Bryant started to play professional ice hockey. It involves learning too many new rules, an entire new skill (skating), and the likelihood of success decreases significantly (or will take 10x longer).

        Language learning is no different.

        Advertising

        As a “professional” language learner, we need to first breakdown our strengths and our understanding of existing rules and structures. If you already speak English, picking a compatible language with similar sounds and word structure like Spanish, instead of a completely different root like Mandarin, could mean the difference between reaching conversation fluency in 3 months versus 3 years.

        The Golden Sentences

        If you want to determine which is the easiest language to learn, you should aim to answer the following questions first.

        1. Are there new grammatical structures that will postpone fluency?
        2. Are there new sounds that will double or quadruple the time it takes to acquire fluency? (particularly vowels)
        3. How similar is it to languages I already understand? What will help and what will interfere?
        4. All of which answer the question: How difficult will it be, and how long would it take to become fluent?

        An effective tool to use to answer all of these questions is called The Golden Sentences.

        It comprises eight sentences that expose much of the language, and quite a few deal breakers.

        The apple is red.
        It is John’s apple.
        I give John the apple.
        We give him the apple.
        He gives it to John.
        She gives it to him.
        I must give it to him.
        I want to give it to her.

        Here’s a directly translated version of these sentences in Spanish.

        1BObwE56jfMqAPOokV2IBsA

          There’s a couple of reasons why these sentences are helpful:

          1. It shows you how verbs are conjugated based on the speaker (gender and number)
          2. You can see a high-level view of the fundamental sentence structures, which helps you answer questions like: is it subject-verb-object (SVO) like English and Chinese (“I eat the apple”), is it subject-object-verb (SOV) like Japanese (“I the apple eat”), or something else?
          3. The first three sentences shows you if the language has a noun case that may become a pain in the butt for you. For example in German, “the” might be der, das, die, dem, den and more depending on whether “the apple” is an object, indirect object, possessed by someone else, etc.

          If possible, we recommend you check with a language teacher to fully understand the translation of these sentences and how transferable your existing languages are.

          As a rule of thumb: use The Golden Sentences as your guiding map, before you choose the vehicle (the method). It will help you achieve your goals in half the time.

          Easiest language to learn

          Now let’s dive into dissecting which of the hundreds of languages that exist, is the easiest language to learn.

          We profiled each of the languages we’ll mention into the following categories:

          Advertising

          • Speaking: This is based on the ease with which learners are able to pick up this language.
          • Grammar: Used as a criterion when ranking a given language as easy, moderately easy, or difficult to acquire.
          • Writing: In many languages, learning to speak first and write later makes the journey easier. Other languages are equally easy to speak and write. This item spells out the easiest languages to write alongside the most difficult. As with speaking, easy, moderately easy, and difficult were used to qualify each language.

          We’ve decided to rank the order of the languages from easiest to hardest to learn.

          1. Spanish

          Speaking: Very Easy
          Grammar: Very Easy
          Writing: Easy
          Overall: Very Easy

          th

            As English speakers, we can be thankful that Spanish pronunciations are one of the easiest to learn.
            Overall, Spanish has a shallow orthographic depth – meaning that most words are written as pronounced. This means that reading and writing in Spanish is a straightforward task.

            With only ten vowel and diphthong sounds (English has 20), and no unfamiliar phonemes except for the fun-to-pronounce letter ñ. This makes learning how to speak Spanish the easiest out of the bunch, and may give you the best return on your time and investment, as 37 per cent of employers rated Spanish as a critical language to know for employment.

            2. Italian

            Speaking: Easy
            Grammar: Easy
            Writing: Moderately Easy
            Overall: Easy

            italy

              Italian is the most “romantic” of the romance languages. Luckily its latin-rooted vocabulary translates into many similar Italian/English cognates, such as foresta (forest), calendario (calendar), and ambizioso (ambitious).

              Like Spanish, many of the words in Italian are written as pronounced. Moreover, the Italian sentence structure is highly rhythmic, with most words ending in vowels. This adds a musicality to the spoken language which makes it fairly simple to understand, and a spunky language to use.

              3. French

              Speaking: Moderate
              Grammar: Moderate
              Writing: Moderately Easy
              Overall: Moderate

              paris-france

                Welcome to the International language of love. Despite how different French may appear at first, linguists estimate that French has influenced up to a third of the modern English language.

                This may also explain why French’s Latin derivations make much of the vocabulary familiar to English speakers (edifice, royal, village). There are also more verb forms (17, compared to the English 12) and gendered nouns (le crayon, la table).

                Advertising

                But it’s not all easy.

                Pronunciation in French is especially difficult, with vowel sounds and silent letters that you may not be used to in English.

                4. Portuguese

                Speaking: Moderate
                Grammar: Moderate
                Writing: Moderate
                Overall: Moderate

                torre_belem_lisboa_portugal_bandeira_Reuters

                  With the Brazilian economy ranking 6th in the world, Portuguese has become a powerful language to learn. One great element of the language is that interrogatives are fairly easy, expressed by intonation alone (“You Like This?”) If you can say it in Portuguese, you can ask it. What’s more, in Brazilian Portuguese, there’s one catchall question tag form: não é.

                  The main difficulty with the pronunciation is the nasal vowel sounds that require some practice.

                  5. German

                  Speaking: Difficult
                  Grammar: Moderate
                  Writing: Moderate
                  Overall: Moderately Difficult

                  germany

                    For many English speakers, German is a difficult language to pick up. Its long words, four noun case endings, and rough pronunciation gives your tongue quite the work out each time you speak.

                    German is recognized as a very descriptive language. A good example is how they use the noun by combining the object with the action at hand.

                    Example: das Fernsehen – the television, combines the words fern, far, andsehen, watching, lit. far-watching.

                    On the other hand, German can be a fun language to learn and its use of grammar is considered to be quite logical, with many overlapping words in English. Just watch out for the exceptions to the rules!

                    6. Hindi

                    Speaking: Moderate
                    Grammar: Moderately Difficult
                    Writing: Difficult
                    Overall: Moderately Difficult

                    Advertising

                    bollywood-aishwarya-rai-red-sari-without-clothes-2062753630

                      There are many familiar words in English which are either Hindi or of Hindi origin. For example guru, jungle, karma, yoga, bungalow, cheetah, looting, thug and avatar. Hindi also uses lots of English words. They are read and pronounced as they are in English, but are written in Hindi. For example, डॉक्टर is pronounced doctor and स्टेशन is pronounced station.

                      This shows that while learning the vocabulary and pronunciation of Hindi may not to be too difficult due to its similarity to English, writing in Hindi is a different ball game.

                      7. Mandarin

                      Speaking: Difficult
                      Grammar: Difficult
                      Writing: Very Difficult
                      Overall: Very Difficult

                      china_2924_600x450

                        Last, but not least: Mandarin. We mainly put this here to show you the contrasting difference between the easiest language to learn (Spanish) and the hardest language to learn, for English speakers.

                        While language learners won’t struggle as much on the grammar, mastering the tones can be very difficult. Mandarin is a tonal language, which means the pitch or intonation used when a word is spoken impacts its meaning. For example, tang with a high tone means soup, but tang with a rising tone means sugar.

                        Learning Mandarin has its rewards though, providing cultural insights and knowledge. But according to the BBC, you’ll need to memorize over 2,000 characters to read a Chinese newspaper!

                        What’s the Easiest Language to Learn?

                        Winner: Spanish

                        th

                          The clear winner for the easiest language to learn is Spanish. Everything from writing, grammar, and speaking will come more naturally to the English speaker: similar rules, structure, and latin roots.

                          It’ll be like going from playing football to ultimate Frisbee.

                          If you are interested in learning Spanish, you can take advantage of websites like Rype, which offers unlimited one-on-one Spanish lessons with a professional teacher online. This means you can learn anytime, anywhere, on-the-go.

                          We also recommend checking out this Complete Guide on How to Speak Spanish.

                          Over to you

                          What do you think is the easiest language to learn? Is there something we may have missed?

                          More by this author

                          8 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn in Less Than 6 Months 10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day 17 Free Websites That Will Improve the Quality of Your Life Today You Don’t Need Extremely High IQ to Be Successful, You Need Self-Control 5 Essential Activities That Will Make Your Brain Healthier

                          Trending in App Review

                          18 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn in Less Than 6 Months 210 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day 317 Free Websites That Will Improve the Quality of Your Life Today 4Four Things to do with Google that most People Don’t Know 55 Best Test Management and Bug Tracking Tools for 2017

                          Read Next

                          Advertising
                          Advertising

                          Last Updated on August 6, 2018

                          20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

                          20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

                          Millions of people use Google search every day for a variety of reasons. Students use it for school, business people use it for research, and millions more use it for entertainment. But most people may not be using Google search to its full potential.

                          Want to use Google search more efficiently and get the search results you want quickly? Here are 20 Google search tips and tricks to maximize your search efficiency:

                          1. Use the tabs

                          The first tip is to use the tabs in Google search. On the top of every search are a number of tabs. Usually you’ll see Web, Image, News, and More. Using these tabs, you can help define what kind of search you need to do. If you need images, use the Image tab. If you are looking for a recent news article, use the News tab. It’s rudimentary and most people use the tabs already. If you are not, then it’s highly recommended to get associated with them. They can cut search times dramatically if utilized properly.

                          2. Use quotes

                          When searching for something specific, try using quotes to minimize the guesswork for Google search. When you put your search parameters in quotes, it tells the search engine to search for the whole phrase. For instance, if you search for Puppy Dog Sweaters, the engine will search for content that contains those three words in any order. However, if you search “Puppy Dog Sweaters”, it will search for that phrase exactly as you typed it. This can help locate specific information that may be buried under other content if not sorted out correctly.

                          3. Use a hyphen to exclude words

                          Sometimes you may find yourself searching for a word with an ambiguous meaning. An example is Mustang. When you Google search for Mustang, you may get results for both the car made by Ford or the horse. If you want to cut one out, use the hyphen to tell the engine to ignore content with one of the other. See the example below.

                          • Mustang -cars

                          This tells the search engine to search for mustangs but to remove any results that have the word “car” in it. It can be wildly helpful when finding information about something without getting information about something else.

                          4. Use a colon to search specific sites

                          There may be an instance where you need to Google search for articles or content on a certain website. The syntax is very simple and we’ll show you below.

                          • Sidney Crosby site:nhl.com

                          This will search for all content about famous hockey player Sidney Crosby, but only on NHL.com. All other search results will be removed. If you need to find specific content on a particular site, this is the shortcut you can use.

                          Advertising

                          5. Find a page that links to another page

                          This Google search tip is a little obscure. Instead of searching for a specific page, you’re searching for a page that links to a specific page. Think about it this way. If you want to see who cited a New York Times article on their site, you would use this trick to find all the sites that link to it. The syntax is below.

                          • link:nytimes.com

                          That will return all pages that link to the New York Times official website. The URL on the right side can be practically anything. Be aware, though, that the more specific it is, the fewer results you’ll get. We know not a lot of people will likely use this Google search trick, but it could be very useful for some.

                          6. Use the asterisk wildcard

                          The asterisk wildcard is one of the most useful ones on the list. Here’s how it works. When you use an asterisk in a search term on Google search, it will leave a placeholder that may be automatically filled by the search engine later. This is a brilliant way to find song lyrics if you don’t know all the words. Let’s look at the syntax.

                          • “Come * right now * me”

                          To you or me, that may look like nonsense. However, Google search will search for that phrase knowing that the asterisks can be any word. More often than not, you’ll find they are lyrics to The Beatles song “Come Together” and that’s what the search will tell you.

                          7. Find sites that are similar to other sites

                          This is a unique one that could be used by practically everyone if they knew it existed. Let’s say you have a favorite website. It can be anything. However, that website is getting a little bit boring and you want to find other websites like it. You would use this trick. Below is the syntax.

                          • related:amazon.com

                          If you search that above, you won’t find a link to Amazon. Instead, you’ll find links to online stores like Amazon. Sites like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and others that sell physical items online. It’s a powerful Google search tool that can help you find new sites to browse.

                          8. Use Google search to do math

                          As a college student, I can attest that I use this one rather frequently. Google search can actually do math for you. This is a rather complex one to describe because it can be used in so many ways. You can ask it basic questions or some more difficult ones. It is important to note that it won’t solve all math problems, but it will solve a good number of them. Here are a couple of examples of the syntax.

                          • 8 * 5 + 5
                          • Planck’s Consant

                          If you search the first one, it’ll return 45. It will also show a calculator that you can use to find answers to more questions. This is handy if you need to do some quick math but don’t want to do it in your head. If you search the second term, it will return the number value of Planck’s Constant. So it can do math, but it can also help you solve math problems by showing values for known mathematical terms.

                          Advertising

                          9. Search for multiple words at once

                          Google search is flexible. It knows you may not find what you want by searching only a single word or phrase. Thus, it lets you search for multiples. By using this trick, you can search for one word or phrase along with a second word or phrase. This can help narrow down your search to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Here is the syntax.

                          • “Best ways to prepare for a job interview” OR “How to prepare for a job interview”

                          By searching that, you will search both phrases. Remember the quotes tip above? It’s being used here as well. In this instance, these two exact phrases will be searched. It can be done by word too, like the example below.

                          • chocolate OR white chocolate

                          This will search for pages that have either chocolate or white chocolate!

                          10. Search a range of numbers

                          Searching for a range of numbers is another tip we don’t anticipate a lot of people using. The people that do use it, though, will probably use it quite a bit. People interested in money or statistics will find this tip particularly useful. Essentially, you use two dots and a number to let Google search know you’re looking for a specific range of numbers. Like the syntax below.

                          • What teams have won the Stanley Cup ..2004
                          • 41..43

                          In the first instance, the search will toss back the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2004. The two dots with only one number will tell the search that you don’t need anything before or after 2004. This can help narrow down searches to a specific number to improve search results. In the second, Google will search for the numbers 41, 42, and 43. It is obscure, but wildly useful if you happen to need to search for numbers like this.

                          11. Keep it simple

                          Now we’re getting into the general tips. Google search knows how to search for a lot of things. What this means is you don’t need to be too specific. If you need a pizza place nearby, use this to search.

                          • Pizza places nearby

                          Google search will grab your location and deliver a variety of results about pizza places that are near you.

                          12. Gradually add search terms

                          There will come a time when Google search doesn’t shovel out the results you expect. In this instance, keeping it simple may not be the best option. As Google itself suggests, the best method is to start with something simple then gradually get more complicated. See the example below.

                          Advertising

                          • First try: job interviews
                          • Second try: prepare for job interviews
                          • Third try: how to prepare for a job interview

                          This will gradually refine the search to bring you fewer, more targeted terms. The reason you don’t go straight from the first try to the third try is because you may miss what you’re looking for by skipping the second step. Millions of websites phrase the same information in a number of different ways; using this technique lets you search as many of them as possible to find the best info.

                          13. Use words that websites would use

                          This is a very important one. When people use Google search to hunt the web, they generally search for things using the same language that they would use for speaking. Unfortunately, websites don’t say things the way people do; instead, they try to use language that sounds professional. Let’s look at some examples.

                          • “I have a flat tire” could be replaced by “repair a flat tire.”
                          • “My head hurts” could be replaced by “headache relief.”

                          The list goes on and on. When searching, try to use terminology you would find on a professional website. This will help you get more reliable results.

                          14. Use important words only

                          The way Google search works is to take what you search for and match it with keywords in online content. When you search for too many words, it may limit your results. That means it may actually take you longer to find what you’re looking for. Thus, it is apropos to use only the important words when searching for something. Let’s see an example.

                          • Don’t use: Where can I find a Chinese restaurant that delivers.
                          • Instead try: Chinese restaurants nearby.
                          • Or: Chinese restaurants near me.

                          Doing this can help Google find what you need without all the clutter. So remember, keep it simple and use important words only.

                          15. Google search has shortcuts

                          A number of commands can be entered to give you instantaneous results. Like the math example above, Google can immediately give you the information you need that is displayed right at the top of the search results. This can save time and effort so you don’t have to click a bunch of bothersome links. Here are a few examples of some commands you can enter into Google.

                          • Weather *zip code* – This will show you the weather in the given zip code. You can also use town and city names instead of area codes, but it may not be as accurate if there are multiple area codes in the city.
                          • What is *celebrity name* Bacon Number – This is a fun little one that will tell you how many connections any given celebrity has to famed actor Kevin Bacon. The popular joke, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, is that no actor is more than 6 connections away from Kevin Bacon. Mark Zuckerberg has a Bacon Number of 3.
                          • The math example posted above is another one.
                          • What is the definition of *word* or Define: *word* – This will display the definition of a word.
                          • Time *place* – This will display the time in whatever place you type in.
                          • You can check any stock by typing its ticker name into Google. If you search for GOOG, it will check the stock prices for Google.

                          These quick commands can take a web search that is usually multiple clicks and condense it into a single search. This is very helpful for information you need repeatedly.

                          16. Spelling doesn’t necessarily matter

                          Google search has gotten a lot smarter over the years. These days, you don’t even need to spell words correctly. As long as it’s pretty close, Google can usually figure out what it means. Here are some examples.

                          Advertising

                          • If you search “Nver Gna Gve Yo Up” Google will automatically assume you mean to search for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” If by chance your misspelling was intentional, Google gives you the option to search for the misspelled term instead.

                          This trick is great if you happen to forget how to spell something or are not altogether sure how something is spelled. It can also be helpful when searching for obscure words. This applies to capitalization and grammar as well.

                          17. Use descriptive words

                          Pretty much everything can be described in multiple ways. Take our namesake, the “life hack.” The terminology “hack” refers to a computer programmer breaking security on a network or system. However, when used in conjunction with the word “life”, it alters the meaning to tips and tricks people can use to improve their lives. If you have trouble finding what you’re searching for, keep in mind that people may search or define what you need in a different way than you do.

                          • You may search “How to install drivers in Ubunut?”
                          • When you really mean “Troubleshoot driver problems Ubuntu.”

                          There really isn’t a good specific example for this one. If you search for something and you can’t find an answer, try asking the same question using different words and see if that helps the results.

                          18. Find a specific file

                          An often forgotten feature of Google search is the ability to search for a specific file or file type. This can be infinitely useful if you need a specific PDF or PowerPoint file that you previously viewed or need to use for another project. The syntax is quite simple.

                          • *Search term here* filetype:pdf

                          In the above example, you simply replace the search term with whatever you’re searching for. Then use the filetype command and enter the extension of any file type you can think of. This can mostly be useful for scholarly purposes, but business presentations and other assorted presentations can benefit from this kind of search as well.

                          19. Money and unit conversions

                          Google search can quickly and accurately convert both measurement units and currency value. There are a variety of uses for this, like checking to see the conversion rate between two currencies. If you happen to be a math student, you can use it to convert from feet to meters or from ounces to liters. Here’s how to do it.

                          • miles to km – This will convert miles to kilometers. You can put numbers in front to convert a certain number. Like “10 miles to km” will show you how many kilometers are in 10 miles.
                          • USD to British Pound Sterling – This will convert a US dollar to British pounds. Like the measurements above, you can add numbers to find exact conversions for a certain amount of money.

                          It’s true that this tip is geared toward math students and international business people. However, you’d be surprised how often these tips are used by regular people.

                          20. Track your packages

                          Our last trick is to use Google search to find out where your packages are. You can enter any UPS, USPS, or Fedex tracking number directly into the Google search bar, and it’ll show you the tracking information about your package. This is much easier than going to the specific sites, waiting for them to load, then searching for your packages there. No examples are really needed for this one. Just type your tracking number in and see where your package is.

                          Google Search wrap-up

                          Google search is a very powerful search tool. Using the tips outlined above, you can find anything and everything you could ever need on the World Wide Web. Whether it’s avoiding Wikipedia for a school essay project, finding the latest stock prices, or even finding song lyrics, there is a way to make Google search work for you.

                          Read Next