Despite these difficulties, English is actually the easiest language in the world to learn. ... Unlike other languages, English has no cases, no gender, no word agreement, and arguably has a simple grammar system and most spoken language around the world. But, why is it so hard to learn a foreign language, anyway? Put simply, it's hard because it challenges both your mind (your brain has to construct new cognitive frameworks) and time (it requires sustained, consistent practice) What factors make a language easy to learn?
Your native language
When you’re getting to grips with a foreign language, you’ll naturally turn to your mother tongue as your reference point. This often means you’ll find it easier to learn a foreign language that shares similarities with your native language.
Just take a look at native English speakers: it’s no coincidence that many of them find French easy to learn, thanks to the whopping 10,000 English words that closely resemble French words (we like to call these cognates). And if you’re already fluent in a Romance language like French? Well, chances are that you’ll find it easier to learn another language in the Romance family, like Spanish or Italian.
Your exposure to other foreign languages
Whether you’re an English speaker and your grandparents speak Italian, or you’re Japanese and you love rocking out to Drake’s biggest hits in English, any exposure to a foreign language will probably mean you’ve already started picking up bits and pieces without realizing it.
So, if you had to choose between learning a foreign language from scratch and learning one that allows you to build on your existing knowledge? It’s a no-brainer.
Your strengths as a language learner
While some of us may have a knack for grammar (guilty as charged – I love learning how to conjugate verbs and what not!), others may get their kicks out of memorizing vocabulary – or even a whole new alphabet.
Whatever your language talents may be, it’s worth identifying them so you can pick a language that’ll play to your strengths. That way, you’ll find the ‘hardest’ parts of learning a particular language the most fun!
Your grasp of grammatical structures
The way you understand grammar will, again, naturally link back to the patterns and structures you’re used to seeing in your native language. And for that reason, you’ll often find foreign languages that have similar sentence structures and word orders to your mother tongue easier to learn.
They say where you’re from helps you decide where you’re going – and the same is true for deciding which foreign language you’ll find the easiest to learn.
A massive part of mastering any language is the speaking part – so if you choose to learn a language that uses similar sounds to the ones you’re already used to pronouncing, you’ve already won a large part of the learning battle.
There’s a reason, for instance, that Scottish people, who’re used to rolling their ‘r’s, find Spanish pronunciation easier to learn than most.
Having said all that, don’t forget that you’ve got to actually want to learn a language to find the learning process ‘easy’. Because as much as we’d all like to think otherwise, learning a new language does not just happen overnight.
It takes time and effort to learn and perfect, so your easiest language to learn may just be the language you’ve got the most motive to pursue.
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