What's the easiest language for English speakers to learn?

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by ASU55RR, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. ASU55RR

    ASU55RR Member

    Jul 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY/Brno,CZ
    Club:
    FC Zbrojovka Brno
    Nat'l Team:
    Czechia
    I'm interested to get feedback on this. For many European languages this is an easy question (example Czech/Slovak, Dutch/German, Russian/ Ukranian), but English is a bit hybrid of Romance and Germanic languages.

    I speak 3 languages more or less fluently: English, Czech, and Spanish. I always felt that knowing English allowed me to become proffecient in Spanish very quick, because while the basic language is different, the complex vocabulary is very similar. So once you learn the basics you're on easy street. Meanwhile, I can't understand German at all, and it is supposed to be closer related language.

    The Academic answer is usually Frisian, a regional Dutch language. I don't have any exposure to Dutch or Frisian, so I can't say. Still I'd be interested in people's opinions.
     
  2. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Grammatically, English is a Germanic language, like German and Frisian, though much of the vocabulary comes originally from Norman French, which helps in understanding Romance languages, like French and Spanish. Supposedly, Esperanto, an artificial language, is the easiest to learn. I never knew anyone else who spoke it, so I never bothered to learn.
     
  3. johan neeskens

    Jan 14, 2004
    My husband who's English says that Dutch is relatively easy to learn to speak, but virtually impossible to learn to write. Even the Dutch themselves have trouble with Dutch grammar and spelling.

    I personally found Spanish very easy to learn - you don't need a big vocabulary to express yourself in it. German - also relatively easy as I live so near the border with Germany and our local dialect has similarities with the German dialect spoken at the other side of the border. French to me personally has always been the hardest language to learn.
     
  4. Belgian guy

    Belgian guy Member+

    Club Brugge
    Belgium
    Aug 19, 2002
    Belgium
    Club:
    Club Brugge KV
    I always found French relatively easy and German very difficult. My French is still pretty decent, but my German is all sorts of awfull. It's so bad I refuse to speak German in public...
     
  5. johan neeskens

    Jan 14, 2004
    The problem with Germans is that they're very anal about their language, i.e. they'll immediately point out your mistakes to you!
     
  6. Ash II

    Ash II New Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    In a madhouse
    I am much the same. I don't think there's really an objective answer because most people have languages they enjoy speaking/learning and the opposite.

    Given my difficulties with Germanic languages, I'm glad English is my mother tongue. I'm pretty certain that if I had to learn it as a second language i'd be pretty crap at it.
     
  7. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
  8. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    The "easiest" foreign language to learn is the one that one has the most exposure to. That is followed by the language that most motivates the individual, typically for cultural reasons (cultural affinity, interest, personal history, music, food, literature, etc.).

    After that, then one can take into account their academic strengths and how those match up w/ a particular language.

    I've actually had students struggle w/ Spanish despite being exposed extensively here in California only to flourish in German. One female student was engaged to an Argentine, but the guy would constantly correct her to the point of inhibiting her development. He wasn't a linguist and had little formal training in the study of Spanish as a language, so he was conflating regionalisms for standard speech and telling her that she was wrong when she was right.

    So she quit taking Spanish to save her relationship, enrolled in German and forced him to do the same. It was the perfect match for her b/c she thrived on the memorization skills needed in German, whereas her fiance's getting a "feel" for the language doomed him to failure. She suddenly had the upper-hand in the (linguistic) relationship.

    They're still together. No joke ... they'd be divorced by now if she stuck to Spanish. :)
     
  9. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

    Jan 2, 2004
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Care to explain this further? I have good memorization skills. Maybe German is the language for me.
     
  10. royalstilton

    royalstilton New Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    SoCal
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    stick to Scouse, lad

    i don't speak German, just some words and phrases, but it's significantly inflected, which makes it a bit more difficult in some ways than Spanish, where the idioms and two verbs that mean "to be" and the tricky past tenses throw some people, plus Spanish has imperatives that will cause puckering in the nether regions.

    to a friend: do that: Haz eso!
    to a friend: don't do that: No hagas eso!

    i found French fairly easy. there is a literary past tense that isn't used at all in speech, and some French idioms gave me trouble for a while, but it's pretty straightforward. the pronunciation is difficult, so if your ear for accents is bad, that will be a bit of a challenge.
     
  11. nutbar

    nutbar New Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Canada
    Afrikaans is also fairly easy for English-speakers to learn.

    For example, these sentences are the same in Afrikaans as in English, just pronounced differently:

    My pen was in my hand

    My hand is in warm water
     
  12. DoctorD

    DoctorD Member+

    Sep 29, 2002
    MidAtlantic
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I found French the easiest to learn. Basically the grammar is the same and you are just substituting French words for English words. And many of those French words are close to English. Pronunciation is the biggest problem.

    German was more difficult, not only because the grammar difficult to learn is, but also because the words are less familiar to English speakers. However, the pronunciation is easy and words are pronounced pretty logically based on their spelling. The linkwordstogetherability to form new words has a lot of charm.

    Dutch should be easiest for an English speaker, but learning it after knowing German has been challenging for me. Pronunciation is harder than German. The spelling/pronunciation correlation makes no sense either from a German or English perspective. In fact, since the spelling "almost" makes sense, it is more difficult to learn. Fortunately, the Dutch all speak English so it doesn't matter.

    No habla espanol except pelota and other soccer-related terms.
     
  13. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    I had a comp lit prof who would take one of those random, interesting, very observant thoughts that we have everyday or once a week... like last weekend I was at a conference and at dinner somebody blurted out, "Why is it that Americans... in moments of tragedy... recur to bagpipes to express sadness?? Somebody should write a book about that!"...

    ... and this comp lit guy would use his German linkwordstogetherabilityundstein und write an entire book that dances around nominatives in German, prepositions, the French subjunctive, and the only thing he says is, "Bagpipes in the US reflect a deep-seeded nostalgia from 18th and 19th-century marginalized immigrants from the British Isles, and a perceived cultural annihilation inherent in the assimilation project. The the 'stayability' of the bagpipes demonstrates that truly cultures can never be annihilated."

    Salt (Derrida), pepper (Benjamin), stir (Foucault). Rather. Rinse. Repeat.

    [/rant]
     
  14. Friedel'sAccent

    Friedel'sAccent Member+

    Jul 7, 2006
    Providence, RI
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I always thought Afrikaans grammar/vocab was based on like 18th century Dutch. No? If contemporary Dutch is hard to learn, well....
     
    Nacional Tijuana repped this.
  15. johan neeskens

    Jan 14, 2004
    It is based on 18th century Dutch and to this day sounds very Dutch, we can understand Afrikaans and the Afrikaanders can understand us. The grammar to Dutch ears sounds weird though.
     
  16. johan neeskens

    Jan 14, 2004
    In Dutch:

    Mijn pen was in mijn hand

    Mijn hand is in warm water
     
  17. ASU55RR

    ASU55RR Member

    Jul 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY/Brno,CZ
    Club:
    FC Zbrojovka Brno
    Nat'l Team:
    Czechia
    Dutch has a very familiar sounding accent for me as an English speaker that makes the basics a bit more intellegible to me. Strangely though it sounds more like the American accents than the Insular British ones.

    Still the lexical similarities with Romance Languages are usually more clear, maybe because the words are longer and less prone to false-friendem. Also, I've studied Latin and Spanish, but never another Germanic language so I recognize Latin cognates more instantly. I did an analysis of the French anthem and the West Frisian anthem circling familiar words.

    About 60% of the French and 25% of the Frisian came through, but in the Frisian one to situations arose: see=sea and leave=love... the relation is clear, but still presents a seperate intellegibility problem. Meanwhile "feroces soldats" is fairly immistakeble.

    Also a tip for English speakers who want to learn a Romance Language, spend an hour a day or so reading Interlingua; its basically an all Latinic Esperanto and is very helpful for filtering out the Norman/Latin parlence of English without worrying about grammar. I found it instantly intellegible; it would be nice if they made an Inter-Speak (German) or a Mezijazyk (InterSlavic) just as a lexical learning tool.
     
    Nacional Tijuana repped this.
  18. ASU55RR

    ASU55RR Member

    Jul 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY/Brno,CZ
    Club:
    FC Zbrojovka Brno
    Nat'l Team:
    Czechia
    Czech

    Moje pero bylo v me ruce

    Moje ruka je v teple vode

    just on Indo European commonality they look a bit similar.

    obviously the forms of Muj/Moje (1st person possesive adjectives) pero=pen, maybe coincidence but still similer. Voda=Water, instantly recognizable when spoken. If you want a reach: teple=warm has a simmilar root to tepid in English in that it's shares root with the word for temeperature (teplota in Czech)...
     
  19. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jan 25, 2002
    Acnestia
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Huh. How do you say "I pissed myself at summer camp"? Or "my roommate is an asshole"?
     
  20. ASU55RR

    ASU55RR Member

    Jul 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY/Brno,CZ
    Club:
    FC Zbrojovka Brno
    Nat'l Team:
    Czechia
    Can't tell you in dutch, but in Czech

    Mocenel jsem se u letniho tabora.

    Moje spolubydlici je ten prdel (or cupak, which means dick)

    not so similar this time
     
  21. minorthreat

    minorthreat Member

    Jan 1, 2001
    NYC
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Generally, Dutch or Afrikaans, although the orthography is pretty damn tough.

    Conversely, I'd say the single hardest major language for a native English speaker to learn is Cantonese.
     
  22. johan neeskens

    Jan 14, 2004
    I that the American meaning of I pissed myself or the British meaning?

    My roommate is an asshole - mijn kamergenoot is een klootzak
     
  23. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jan 25, 2002
    Acnestia
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It's a reference to the classic summer camp dirty trick, wherein some sticks the dangling hand of a sleeper into a pot of warm water, which then makes the sleeper urinate.

    As to whether that's the American meaning or the British meaning...I'm American so I guess it's the American meaning.
     
  24. johan neeskens

    Jan 14, 2004
    Oh OK. Righ then:

    I pissed myself at summer camp = Ik heb in bed geplast op zomerkamp
     
  25. CeltTexan

    CeltTexan Member+

    Sep 21, 2000
    Houston, TX USA
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

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