Which languages are easiest for English speakers to learn?

According to research done by foreign language department of US State Dept
Interesting that German is not in this group as English is essentially a Germanic language. Though it shares substantial vocabulary with the five Romance languages, they are completely distinct in terms of grammar & structure - see here.

Norwegian, Swedish & Dutch speakers of English routinely astonish natives with their facility for local idioms. Does the reverse apply when English speakers learn Nordic languages? I suspect not but would like to be corrected ...

A version of this post is included in 50 FAQ about English  ($1.75)


  1. Local idioms aren't always easy to learn, but it is possible. I moved to the Netherlands in my early 20s and lived there for 13 years. I didn't find Dutch that difficult to learn, and in fact there were a lot of similarities with English. My colleagues were sympathetic to my efforts to learn their language - I think they were happy that an English-speaking person was attempting to learn Dutch because they were so used to speaking English. I ended up speaking it quite well and idiomatically. The Dutch love translating their idioms directly into English for a laugh: there is even a facebook page called 'Dutchisms'. Thanks for the really interesting blog - I often read your articles. Emily

    1. Many thanks for your kind comments, Emily. Interesting to know that Dutch aptitude for speaking English is not simply a result of exposure to it. I lived in both Portugal and Spain - found that the Portugese generally had a better standard, despite the fact I found Portugese much more difficult. One factor was that the Spanish dubbed all TV, cinema etc. Also perhaps that the Portugese - like the Dutch - are obliged by their small numbers (in Europe anyway) to actively seek a lingua franca.

  2. Thanks for sharing this nice post. Idioms can have a literal meaning in one situation and a different idiomatic meaning in another situation. It is a phrase which does not always follow the normal rules of meaning and grammar. Learn English Idioms to improve English Language.

  3. Good post about english it is very useful for students

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  4. I'm learning German language as a second language. I've found it pretty easy and already very improved my German accent. It's good to see some other languages easier to learn for English speakers. Thanks.


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