Do you agree that learning to read a foreign language should be easy? It doesn’t have to be hard. Choosing what foreign language suits you is very important, and one factor in making this decision is what would be easy for you to read. “Wait… why reading?” Because when you learn a foreign language, you will ALWAYS use your reading skills and, if it’s difficult to read it, then it might also be difficult for you to learn it.
Below are the top 10 easiest languages to learn to read — not only for English speakers but others as well.
This is the foreign language I love the most. The Spanish language has a shallow orthographic depth,meaning, most words are written similar to the way they’re pronounced.
Take, for example, the Spanish word “la mesa” which means “the table.” The way it’s written is the same as how you would read it; no changes! Another example is “de nada” which means “you’re welcome.” “De nada” is read and sounds just as it appears written on the page.
Spanish has similar rules, structures, and Latin roots with the English language. That’s why this is one of the most popular foreign languages for English speakers.
The Spanish alphabet is written in Latin or Roman Script. It is similar to the English Alphabet, but with one additional letter which is “Ññ” /ˈeɲe/. So if you can read this article, then I’m pretty sure you can easily read Spanish words.
Learning how to read the Spanish language is easy; just read what you can see!
The Italian language is easy because its Latin-rooted vocabulary translates into many similar Italian/English cognates, such as foresta (forest), calendario(calendar) and ambizioso (ambitious).
Like Spanish, many words in Italian are written as pronounced. (This means, if you love Spanish, you can also love Italian.) The Italian sentence structure is highly rhythmic with most words ending in vowels. Italian is fairly simple to read and a spunky language to use, not to mention, it’s so sexy!
Italian is also written in Latin or Roman script, similar to English and Spanish, but only with 21 letters. You can see the five letters (j, k, w, x, and y) only in the common foreign words in Italian.
Now we’re in the sweetest language for the human ears! French is the international language of love. This language appears to be very different at first, but linguists estimate that French has influenced up to a third of the modern English language.
Many French vocabulary words are also familiar sounding to English speakers, making it easy to read. On the other hand, pronunciation in French is quite challenging with vowel sounds and silent letters — not commonly used in English.
The French alphabet is also written in Latin or Roman script, same as the English alphabet which has 26 letters. The difference is that French uses five diacritics (the ´ ` ˆ ¨ ¸ symbols which you can find in the vowels) and two orthographic ligatures (Æ and Œ).
Also called “Brazilian language,” Portuguese has become one of the most powerful languages to learn with the Brazilian economy ranking 6th place in the world. What makes this language easy to read is that interrogatives are expressed by intonation alone.
Even though the Portuguese alphabet is written in Latin script, the pronunciation of some words is quite different due to the nasal vowel sounds and accent that require some practice.
German is considered to be a very descriptive language. It uses the noun by combining the object with the action on hand.
This language has long words, four noun endings and rough pronunciation making German a hard language to speak. German can be fun, too! The grammar is considered to be logical, with many overlapping words in English.
If we’re honest here, we know that if a person knows how to speak German, that person looks smart and educated!
Dutch is spoken by the majority of citizens in the Netherlands and the large population of Belgium. Say hello to Dutch, which is the first cousin of English, and the sister of the German language. (Wait, is this a family reunion? LOL.) You can find a lot of English cognates in this language such as drinken (to drink) and kat (cat).
This language is almost the same as Dutch. Up to 95% of its vocabulary comes from the Dutch language. Does that mean we can study Afrikaans alongside Dutch?
Afrikaans doesn’t bother you about verb conjugations and noun genders. In South Africa, ek is “I am,” jy is “You are,” and sy is “She is.” What could be easier than that?
The Swedish language shares some characteristics with the English language. These both are Germanic languages, have two genders and use a similar “subject-verb-object syntax.” It has similar words with English such as December and orange.
Swedish differentiates words based on the tone or pitch which they are spoken. Some native English speakers take only 24 weeks or 600 hours to learn Swedish. Maybe it’s time to use your idle times in learning Swedish? If you do, you’ll be a Swedish speaker in just six months!
Why would English be considered the universal language if it is difficult to learn? You can read it wherever you go!
The English language is easy to read.Well, not that easy, because it doesn’t have messy grammar and sounds that are often familiar to speakers of other languages. Actually, non-native English speakers unintentionally master the ability to read common English words because of them being present everywhere. Words like Yes, No, Me, You — almost everyone knows how to read these words!
Norwegian is one of the languages whose word order and ways to pronounce words may be familiar to English speakers. Norwegian grammar is very straightforward. They only have one verb per tense and are not conjugated based on person or number.
Congrats for joining the Top 10!
There is no such thing as a universally-easy language. Learning a new language is hard but think about the advantages of learning to read a language can bring you. It’s worth it!
This is the best mindset to achieve your goal – “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”- Frank Smith. It a good thing that you’re thinking about trying to learn a second, or a third, or maybe a fourth language. Once you know more than one language, your future would be endless. You might want to check out The Benefits and Strategies in Reading a Foreign Language.
What Languages Are Easy for Me to Read?
Languages that have a lot in common with your native language are usually easier for you to read. Why? For example, when you are in a family gathering, you can see physical similarities from parents to children and siblings to siblings because they share the same genetics and DNA structure with each other.
It also applies in world languages. They also have family members, one example, English belongs in the “Germanic Language,” the same with Afrikaans, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. While Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian belong to a language family called “Romance Language.”
These languages came from the same family, so they share vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation features. Are you still confused? Here are some examples showing similarity from the same language family.
Germanic Language: How to say, “Hello, welcome.”
- Afrikaans: Hallo, welkom
- Dutch: Hallo, welkom
- Danish: Hallo, velkommen
- Norwegian: Hei, velkommen
- Swedish: Hej, valkommen
Romance Language: How to say, “My family.”
- Spanish: Mi familia
- French: Ma famille
- Italian: La miafamiglia
- Portuguese: Minhafamilia
- Romanian: Familia mea
If you already speak English, the easiest language for you to read will be those with similar sounds, pronunciations, and word structure. If you are Spanish, how about trying to learn to read some romance languages?
For example, for Kobe Bryant, it would be a drastic decision to start playing ice hockey. It is far different from the sport of basketball which he knows so well. There are too many rules, and hockey is an entirely new skill which he would need to learn. It would be a life-changing decision for him.
You can read the blog post Which Language Should You Learn First? to know more about what language would be perfect for you.
The perception of what is easy and what is difficult to learn depends on the person doing the learning. If it’s possible for other people to learn to read languages for three months, how can you explain some who spent years of studying? Everyone has different learning curves.
Learning to read a language differs from one person to another. Some might give up easily; some would continue to fight even though they’re stuck with one word for days!
To learn to read a foreign language, you must be determined and be ready to make mistakes. This is ”only” about reading. It’s another matter if you’re learning to speak, write, and listen to a new language. I hope you won’t give up in the future!