One of the most language related Google searches must be “What’s the easiest language to learn?”. In fact, let’s check that….1,590,000 results. Wowza. Did I just write wowza? How very cool of me.
Now, I’ll have to be honest here and say I’m pretty sure I’ve probably searched this myself, so don’t worry, I won’t judge you if you have too. It’s not a crime. We all want stuff to be easy, but stuff being easy isn’t as clear cut as it may sound.
I’m going to go right out there to start off and say there’s no such thing as “the easiest language”. A language being easy depends on a lot of things. Here are four essential questions before learning a language.
What’s your native language?
If your native language is English than Dutch will be easier than, say, Russian. However, if your native language is Polish, then Russian may be an easier option than Dutch. Swings and roundabouts. But do you want an easy ride or a challenge? What you already know, of course, determines how difficult new stuff will be to learn.
What other languages do you speak?
If you already speak Spanish, then Italian will be easier than taking on Japanese. But any other languages you know will help regardless of which language you want to tackle next. Just having a basic knowledge of grammar terms and how words work will speed up the process. Again, it depends how much of a challenge you fancy.
What do you have available?
If you pick French, Spanish or another ‘common’/’popular’ language, you will be overwhelmed by potential learning resources, making your language learning process a breeze! However, let’s say you fancy picking up Igbo or Tok Pisin. Hmm, not as many resources to work with there, making it potentially harder to learn. However, if you’re reading this thinking, “I don’t care! I really want to learn Igbo!” then do it.
Why do you want to learn?
Probably the hardest question to answer honestly. You may have always wanted to learn that language, you may have friends who speak it, you may just really love languages. Either way, your level of devotion will seriously affect how easy a language is to learn. If you’re learning at school to pass an exam because your school has forced you to, then unless you’re a child genius you probably won’t master that language. If, on the other hand, you are teaching yourself because you love the language or have a strong reason to learn it, then chances are you’ll see results much quicker and, consequently, the language in question will be easier to learn. Hooray!
But why would you want a language to be easy anyway? Does it matter how ‘hard’ a language is? Surely that’s a matter of perception anyway. Here’s where I think the last question above becomes the most important. At risk of sounding like an attempting-to-be-inspiring library poster, if you want it, you can do it. Don’t stop reading there though! If you build it, they won’t come. Life isn’t Field of Dreams. Buying the books and having them sit on the shelf is the easy bit, picking them up and actually learning is the bit that takes more effort.
Over the summer, I’ll be posting tips and inspiration for those of us taking on new languages either during summer or in September, so if you’re ready for a new challenge then stay tuned! Oh, but first, don’t forget to ask yourself the 4 questions above. Maybe write down the answers somewhere secret and come back to them a few months down the line to see if your reason for learning is the same.
If you’re not sure which language to take on next, then why not try Portuguese? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway before the 4th August!