English is now a world language; however, knowing just one dialect is not enough to compete for a global job. Learning an additional language makes you culturally competent. It not only builds your professional rapport but is also an extremely valuable and marketable skill in the current and highly competitive job world. And anyways, with over 6500 spoken languages in the world, it becomes almost essential to at least learn one extra!
Learning a new language requires a lot of patience, time, and effort. You need to understand multiple elements – vocabulary, verbs, pronunciation – in order to be proficient in a language. But how should you decide which new language to acquire? If you do not have any special linguistic requirements, you would probably want to start with an easy one. But determining the ease of learning a language is very tricky as your native language plays an integral role in ascertaining which languages will be easy for you to learn. Foreign Services Institute (FSI) conducted a survey with native English speaking students, in the age group of 30 to 40 to determine the difficulty rankings of learning certain foreign languages. To make your decision easier, we have listed five languages that are easiest to learn for native-English speakers:
After Chinese, Hindi and English, Spanish is the fourth most spoken language in the world with approximately 422 million native speakers worldwide. Spanish is very similar to English and only varies in punctuations and word formations. It has lesser anomalies than other Latin dialects and words are often spoken exactly as they are written.
Portuguese is an official language in nine countries and is spoken in more than thirty. There are more than 176 million native Portuguese speakers across the world. And with the economy of its former colony, Brazil ranking sixth in the world, it’s definitely a very marketable language nowadays. Portuguese differs from English in only phonology and morphology.
Modern English is very influenced by the French language. Be it, éclair, en route, or au gratin, there are numerous French words that find a place in everyday English. French belongs to Indo-European language family and has emerged from the Vulgar Latin that was spoken by the Roman invaders.
Swedish is one of the most spoken North Germanic languages and is very similar to English in vocab and syntax. Though medieval Swedish had complex grammar, modern Swedish is comparatively simpler. Swedish words like ombudsman and moped are also used commonly in the English language.
German is probably one of the most popular and prevalent second languages in the world. With 95 million native speakers, it also has 28 million second language speakers across the world! In addition to English and French, German is also one of the three working languages of the European Commission. Some common German words in the English language include angst, blitz, dachshund, kindergarten, wiener and schnitzel amongst others.
According to the FSI study, all the above languages, along with Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Norwegian, and Romanian, all come under the easiest group, Category 1. It takes an average of 575-600 hours of study to gain proficiency in any of these languages, except German, which takes a slightly higher time of 750 hours of class study.
So, go ahead and choose a language of your preference and add something extra to your skill-set. For now, Bye, Adios, Tchau, Au revoir, Adjo, and Tschuss!