Blaveloper

For beginners: "What language should I learn"? "What is the easiest one"? (NOT MY QUESTION!)

Recommended Posts

NOTE: THIS IS NOT MY OWN QUESTION, THIS TOPIC IS MEANT TO CUT THE AMOUNT OF "WHAT SHOULD I LEARN"-TYPE OF TOPICS!

Even though the best answer is obvious and applies to literally everyone, I understand beginners to language learning don't know the answer.
You can see this throughout this entire forum, on other forums, on social media, even in real life this question seems to be a big struggle to everyone.
With this thread I'd like to give you a solid answer to both questions: "What language should I learn"? and "What is the easiest one"?

The answer is: follow your heart.
Take an honest look at the culture of all languages you consider to learn, research each of them throughout.
Which culture did you like most? That's the language you should learn AND that's the easiest one.

Simple enough ey?

Languages are closely tied to cultures.
The golden rule is: if you don't like the culture, it'll be very difficult to learn.
And if you manage to learn it any way, you'll forget it quickly.
This goes for all languages, from Romance languages to Chinese. From Swahili to Slavic languages.

That's all.

 

Any complaints, doubts, disagrees or similar?
Feel free to ask or comment.

Edited by Blaveloper
Way too many people failed to understand the purpose of this topic, so I tried to make it clear now.
Federico likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a language teacher I have to disagree.

( I teach German, French and English)

I`m talking about Switzerland in the following and of course there are exceptions to my statements:

French natives hate learning German more than anything else.

Swiss-German natives hate learning French more than anything else.

 

But now and then there are students that like that language and what I observed is:

Even if a French native loves German, his level of proficiency in German is lower,than that of a German native that hates French in French.

And that`s not because I teach French better or anything. TheGerman language is just not as regular and grammatically more complicated.

 

What do you think about that?

lushlala likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 15.3.2016 at 9:53 AM, flovo said:

As a language teacher I have to disagree.

( I teach German, French and English)

I`m talking about Switzerland in the following and of course there are exceptions to my statements:

French natives hate learning German more than anything else.

Swiss-German natives hate learning French more than anything else.

 

But now and then there are students that like that language and what I observed is:

Even if a French native loves German, his level of proficiency in German is lower,than that of a German native that hates French in French.

And that`s not because I teach French better or anything. TheGerman language is just not as regular and grammatically more complicated.

 

What do you think about that?

I do agree with almost everything you said Flovo. However, I don't think that it has much to do with the topic " What language should I learn " and you might want to start a new thread about it. I am Swiss, by the way, and I really feel the same about what you said :=)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's actually quite an interesting thing you just mention, @flovo, not something you normally see.
But I can see a bit where you're coming from, since passion to a language is just one element (an important one, but there are more).
I was talking about passion to a specific culture, it's perfectly possible you hate the French language, while you still like French food, French movies, French beaches, etc.

Apart from passion (and sorry I didn't mention it), another factor that makes a difference is effort.
Because you perhaps you really like French or German, you still need to work hard to gain fluency.
Perhaps that's the missing factor you have noticed with your student, perhaps French speakers are lazier than German speakers and the effort the German speakers put into French may be significantly higher.

Because if grammar would be the real issue, I would have known Spanish much better than Japanese by now right?
That's not the case however.

But then again, I'm not a Frenchman, German nor Swiss, so I can't speak for them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Blaveloper I wasn`t very accurate with my statement there. I actually meant to include cultural, culinary etc. elements as well. My fingers were just a bit faster in typing than my head in thinking.

It is possible that French speakers are lazier than German speakers but I just find it hard to believe that language affects your attitude towards work.

And cultural differences are very small between the people I teach (if there are any at all).  I teach in Biel/Bienne which is basically a bilingual city.

What I can imagine is that French speaking people just find German an ugly language. And that might block their motivation or something.

But I still think that grammar is an important factor.

And I`ve learned Japanese as well and in my opinion your comparison between Spanish and Japanese is not really good.

Of all the languages I`ve learned so far Japanese had by far the easiest grammar. Of course there are complicated aspects to it`s grammar as well e.g. the particles or honorifics and all that but it`s in my opinion still a lot easier than for example all the different tenses in Spanish. 

Of course Japanese is more foreign and harder to get into and the word and all that is strange in the beginning but I don`t really get why you think the grammar is hard. Could you explain that to me please? Maybe I`m missing something.

 

And don`t get me wrong I do not intend to discourage anyone to learn a langauge which is labelled as "difficult" or complicated. I share the opinion that you should learn what interests you the most. However saying that that language is the easiest to learn is just not true in my opinion. But if you are interested in a culture or language then you can easily learn it despite the difficulties.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once again, I can't speak for those people since I'm not a Frenchman, German or Swiss, so if you say so based on your own experience, I will definitely not deny it.

Japanese grammar is easier than Spanish, I agree on this one, but I actually meant to compare the grammar that comes closer to my native languages (which are Polish and Dutch).
Spanish grammar is much closer to Polish and Dutch grammar, so in this example that should be easier to learn for me, but in fact it isn't.
I don't speak any Turkish apart from knowing that that's an SOV language, but Japanese is an SOV language too, so I assume these 2 are closer related to each other.

Oh, and one tip: if you love the enter key as much as I do, but you hate how this forum adds a white space because of that, just hold shift and press enter.
That way your text will look much nicer to read. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What language should I learn?

From everyone else's posts it seems I should actually put the name of the language I think would be easiest. But what I want to write is that I would go with the language that can be put into practical application as you are learning it. For example, if you live in an area with a high number of speakers of a possible target language, then that language would be easier for you to learn because you will be able to practice it. Practice is key and it is very hard to do if you have no one around you who speaks that language. With internet there are many new ways to communicate with people in other languages. But this too is in a setting that limits the amount of every day practical speech that will be used. In a Skype setting, you are more likely to go through the typical exercises found in most book work. These are very helpful. But in everyday practice, like grocery shopping, walking though a park, or working, you will progress quicker in your comprehension. And when we can begin to comprehend, it becomes easier. So in my long winded opinion, THAT would be the easiest language for you to learn. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After reading the previous replies, I have to say my initial post has changed drastically.  I was going to say, "Just follow your heart."  But now I realize there's more to it than that.  People can follow their heart and end up in ditches, after all.

When I started learning Japanese, I was motivated by a sudden sense that I just needed to become fluent in it.  So I started studying every which way I could, but I realized that I was never going to gain fluency unless I immersed myself in it.  I enrolled into a Japanese language school based in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.  Studying in Japan for a year in a half really helping me absorb the language. 

French, on the other hand, has not been that easy.  While I love French and took 4 years of it in high school, practiced with my mother and grandmother (both having rudimentary understanding of the language), not having the ability to use it in every day life really took its toll on the learning process.  While I'm passionate about French and love France, its culture, and the people, French has been infinitely more harder for me to learn.  Even in pronunciation -- and people tell me I can pronounce anything. 

In that way, I believe that while wanting to learn a language is the most important step, what really matters is how often you can use it and develop it from the inside out.  Gaining a level of confidence with the language you're studying is crucial too. The best way for that to happen is to use it, as Saholy stated in their post. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly I have seen how people who try to learn a language they don't really like fail.  It happened to my mom trying to learn English and french.  I think that English is a must for most people out there, but  then the question gets trickier.  I'd say that learning an extra language (apart from English - if you are not a native English speaker, of course) is a very personal choice.    One should always learn a language one truly likes for whatever reason, like for example when you like a country or culture. Another good reason is moving to a different country :P  just like me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it will depend on your native language. I know Tagalog and English, and the easiest language for me to learn next is Spanish. We have a lot of Spanish words in our native language as we were colonized by Spaniards for over 300 years. For me, Japanese and Chinese language are very hard languages to learn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree with you on the fact that 'you must love the culture to be able to learn the language'. It makes things easier; it makes the mind open for something new, something creative. It is like a spark of fire ignited and burns in the heart like a passion; sometimes making it unbearable to breathe because you are overwhelmed to learn this new language.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess my advice would be to stick to what you want and what you need. It's going to be the best motivation you can have, because learning a new language takes discipline. You need to focus and learn not to stop learning the language.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see learning languages as something I really love and something that is useful. These are opposites. If following your hart would help you learn better and easier that is a good way to go. However, if a certain language is not useful as some other might be you should probably include this factor in your decision. I realised that the best languages to learn now are English, of course, Arabic, Spanish an Chinese. The last one especially and I believe than it should be a second language to English in primary schools for obvious reasons. It is not just because China has the biggest population, India is there too, it is because China is developing quickly and given the fact they have strong national pride I do not think they would put English or any other language in front of their own. Just saying, it could come in handy in years to come.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 16/03/2016 at 8:15 PM, reverserewind said:

There is no such thing as an easy language. The level of difficulty totally depends on how much difference there is between your mother tongue and the one you would like to master.

This is true, unless you really want to learn it and not forced to learn it, all languages have their difficulty. Not only that even if you plan to learn a different language that is similar to your mother tongue, doesn't mean that it will simply come to you, you still have to study it. 

lushlala likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Lingua Franca said:

This is true, unless you really want to learn it and not forced to learn it, all languages have their difficulty. Not only that even if you plan to learn a different language that is similar to your mother tongue, doesn't mean that it will simply come to you, you still have to study it. 


Kind of true. Basically, it can be applied to... pretty much everything. If your will is not free, I doubt that your results are gonna be high. The whole "forcing" thing never worked in my case. It's like working jobs that you hate/hating jobs that you work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I agree with your sentiment, I think a good first language for a person to learn would be Esperanto. Just the fact that it was specifically created to be easy to learn is a good enough reason. I think it should be taught to young kids as it is a great building block to eventually learn a natural language. Learning it also provides a lot of vocabulary for other languages! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Asking what is the easiest language to learn is like asking how far is Paris. The answer depends on where you are. As for things like culture - I'm not sure. For me the key to learning a language was interacting with it daily and having a use for it. That I think is very important for beginners to understand that a language is not like riding a bicycle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All my life I have been so interested in learning other languages but I just have no idea where to start. I'm 20 so I'm past the point of where learning new languages will be easier for me. I am interested in all cultures so I tend to spread myself thin when it comes to tackling which language I want to learn. So I just kind of know a little bit from a few languages. It's unfortunate, really. I wish I was naturally good at learning. I still struggle a lot with English so how can I even fathom taking on a whole new language? :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would always recommend English for anyone looking to learn a new language. And that is not because I think English to be a really easy language to learn, but more because of the exposure you get to the English language nowadays. Be it the Internet, Netflix or subtitled TV shows. You stumble upon English basically anywhere you look.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Chris_A said:

I would always recommend English for anyone looking to learn a new language. And that is not because I think English to be a really easy language to learn, but more because of the exposure you get to the English language nowadays. Be it the Internet, Netflix or subtitled TV shows. You stumble upon English basically anywhere you look.

English should absolutely be your first language to learn, but I wouldn't say it's easy to learn. It can be quite confusing for someone whose language structure doesn't even resemble it. What it is, in comparison to other languages, is more compelling. You get much more access to a lot of media, you get to understand popular songs firsthand, etc.
There's a few languages that are easy to learn for me and any latin-based language speaker, and that is other latin derived languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese all share similar heritage and grammar, to an extent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it would depend on what your birth language is? Like, English is Latin based, so learning another Latin based language should come a little easier. Such as French, Italian, Spanish and etc. I personally find it very hard to learn Cyrillic based languages, like Russian or Turkish. Though languages spoken by a lot of people is always good to learn!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 21/03/2016 at 3:48 AM, reverserewind said:


Kind of true. Basically, it can be applied to... pretty much everything. If your will is not free, I doubt that your results are gonna be high. The whole "forcing" thing never worked in my case. It's like working jobs that you hate/hating jobs that you work.

I really don't think it works with anyone. No one likes to be forced into doing something. That's how come students should have this sentiment, there are subjects that we might like more then others but if you don't feel forced into doing something you might still get something out of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do believe that some languages are easier to learn than other ones. For example, English is much easier to learn in comparison with Japanese, for example, simply because it is encountered all around us (especially on the internet), it has easier grammar and you don't need to learn 3 alphabets to write it. Also, the more you like how a language sounds, the more likely you are to master it quicker. 

111kg likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, StevenCox said:

I do believe that some languages are easier to learn than other ones. For example, English is much easier to learn in comparison with Japanese, for example, simply because it is encountered all around us (especially on the internet), it has easier grammar and you don't need to learn 3 alphabets to write it. Also, the more you like how a language sounds, the more likely you are to master it quicker. 

Glad to see another Romanian on this forum.

 

Now, I do believe that there is no point in learning a foreign language if you don't plan to immerse in that culture or at least be in touch with it. Why? Because once you stop using it for a while, you lose it. You wasted so much time of your life just so you can brag that you know a language you'll never use inreal life.

Moreover, I do believe that English and Spanish are the easiest languages you can learn. For the Europeans living within the former Roman empire borders, it's quite easy to learn Italian, French and Spanish or even Portuguese (but with a little bit of struggle).

RothStone likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now