Not all languages are created equal. Some are just easy and difficult languages to learn from others. What makes one harder or easier? Let’s explore the answers!
Let’s be honest; Learning a language is a difficult task. However, there are ways to make it easier.
The three D’s — Determination, Dedication, and Discipline are essential components for the successful foreign language learning journey.
But what are the easiest and difficult tongues to learn for Indians or English speakers?
It’s a question many people ask me, especially by people just starting as language learners. So, what’s the answer?
Before we get there, let’s probe more!
We are all familiar with the countless perks of learning a new language.
When it comes to acquiring a foreign language, everyone has a different goal. There is no one-size-fits-all language. Broadly speaking, It can be classified into two groups.
The first group primarily consists of learners with a particular language in mind.
For example, if you consider higher studies in Germany or exploring job opportunities in French companies.
Or maybe you’re dealing with clients in Latin America, or perhaps the aspects of Korean culture intrigues you.
To sum up, you have already decided which language you should learn.
Do you wish to study a language and broaden your communication skills and career horizons?
Then you might be considering what the simplest to learn in the shortest amount of time?
According to the research of the FSI at the U.S. State Department, the “easiest” and “difficult” languages for English speakers usually require 600 hours and 2200 hours, respectively, of classwork for minimal proficiency.
Furthermore, they suggest an approximate 1:1 ratio between time spent in the classroom and self-study. Thus, 1200 and 4400 hours to achieve the conversational proficiency level.
The word “easiest” and “difficult” is quite a relative term since most language learners find all languages challenging to master.
It is often debated amongst linguists and language enthusiasts. It’s a critical question.
But it’s also a very tricky one to answer.
Table of Contents
Why Are Some Languages Harder or Easy to Learn than Others?
There are five criteria that we will discuss below.
These are some of the factors to be considered. Here they’re:
1. Related Languages
Most languages in the world belong to a particular language family. All languages within the same family are descended from a common parent language.
The ease/difficulty of studying a new language depends on the language’s family.
Languages that are part of the same family share many similarities like roots, usages, vocabulary, pronunciations, grammatical, and syntactic structures.
In Ethnologue, you can find a list of 136 language families.
For example, the English language is part of the Germanic family, so it has similarities with German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages like Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian – all of which have a common ancestry or parental tongue.
2. Native Language
Another factor to consider is your native tongue. Lingos that have very little in common with your native language will be much harder.
So, the ease depends on what you learned first or what is your mother tongue.
Suppose you wish to learn a new language that shares your mother tongue in terms of grammatical structures, cognates, syntax, or vocabulary. In that case, you naturally have a head start when you begin acquiring your target language.
For instance, what might be reasonably easy for a native English speaker might be far more challenging for someone who speaks Mandarin as a native language.
3. The Language Complexity
The third point is the language’s general complexity.
Some languages use a complex and different writing system or script, which can significantly impact whether a lingo is challenging to learn.
For example, Japanese, Mandarin, and Korean have complicated and unusual writing systems and many formality levels.
That is why, for an Indian or English speaker, mastering one of these East Asian languages is a tall order.
Above all, all three scripts used for these three different languages are quite distinct.
Additionally, there are many languages with several dialects and variations, such as Arabic and Chinese.
It means that the Arabic and Chinese that are widespread in Egypt or Hong Kong are different from those spoken in Saudi Arabia and North China.
Languages such as Finnish, Polish, Hungarian, and Russian are difficult because of complicated grammatical structures and too many case systems.
Few tongues like Vietnamese, Mongolian, Cantonese are hard to acquire because of the complexity of the sound system, i.e., tricky pronunciation and unusual tones.
On the other hand, several languages are well-structured to make them easier language to understand.
The simple grammar rules, fewer language irregularities, and phonetic sounds that aren’t frequently broken.
Italian, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, and Romanian are some languages that are easy to learn.
That is the reason these are classified in a variety of easy categories of language learning.
4. Passion and Reasons for learning a new language
While your goals to learn a new language may differ from mine, both still need an essential hallmark to succeed in our language learning quest — passion.
The most straightforward language for you is the one that appeals to you in so many ways. If you enjoy studying a particular tongue, it could look manageable, or at least fun to learn.
Suppose you pick a tongue of your interest, regardless of the benefits associated with it.
Then, you are most likely to excel in your language goals easier, quicker, and allows for immediate improvement.
The truth is language learning takes time.
And the reason why most people struggle to learn a language is that they have a low-key passion for the corresponding language.
That is the reason a significant majority don’t go further than an elementary’s level.
Most people don’t realize that If you don’t have enough motivation and try to learn a language you are not interested in, it will make it look not easy even if it’s not.
If you’re highly passionate about any specific one, you’re going to persevere and scale through whatever hurdles it contains.
To sum up, you are most likely to achieve the objective irrespective of language difficulty if you develop a passion for learning a language.
5. Resources Available to learn a new language
With the right language learning strategy and useful study material, you can quickly progress and, therefore, fast results.
You can find zillions of websites, apps, study material, and resources for popular languages like French, German or Spanish.
You will never be concerned about not able to find resources but which one to use.
However, if you are keen to learn one of the not so popular languages, you have limited options for audio lessons, books, practice with the natives, teachers, and so on.
It can rapidly become a high level of frustration when you feel like your progress is stagnating for a shortage of enough resources.
I have received several queries about learning Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, and other less taught languages in the past few years.
Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there is no learning center in India offering any course in these languages.
On top of that, there is a scarcity of study material or websites that can help. These languages, even though easy to acquire, is too tough to learn.
The Final Words
Don’t learn a new language just because it is easy or difficult. Think about your subjective and objective goals and interest.
To make your enthralling journey to multilingualism, these are five criteria you need to consider that might make easy and difficult languages for you.
If you’ve any questions, Feel free to share your views in the comments.