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Is English the easiest language ever?


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Many non-native English speakers grow up surrounded by the English language (TV, movies, computers) and I think this makes it easier for most of us to learn. Apart from that we also learn pretty early (age 5 or 6) to learn it and, let's face, it's a pretty simple language and grammar. Having this said, is English the easiest language to learn? Or not?

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IMO, the ease of learning a language isn't determined by the level of exposure. For example, when I was younger, all I watched were Chinese movies that had no sub-titles. After watching all those movies, my Chinese was still no good.

So the only thing that would make it easier is if you already have some basic knowledge of the language. If you don't then I don't think you'll learn much except the pronunciations of some words if you watch a lot of English movies . . . and that, wouldn't be helpful.

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In the sense that exposure helps learning, then yes. The English language is exposed to many countries in which do not use English as their first language. With that being said, English itself is complex and has many 'tricks'. It is not an easy language to learn by any means. There are many silent letters and exceptions to rules. Just like any other language, it takes dedication and patience.

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I've heard that English is actually fairly difficult. Us native speakers wouldn't think that (we're lucky in that sense I guess) but there's exceptions to a lot of the rules, silent letters, words that can be said in different ways to have different meanings (offense, defense, invalid, etc), confusing idioms, all the different accents that must be confusing for new learners, etc.

That's not to say it's one of the most difficult - there are a lot of languages that are more difficult to learn. But it's not the easiest either. Supposedly Esperanto is the easiest language to learn. It was designed so that it would be.

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@Kate, You think Esperanto is an easy language to learn? But why would anyone want to learn Esperanto?

Comparing to French for example, I think the English structure is far easier and despite of what you say Denis, I think that the level of exposure does help a lot, you become familiar with certain sounds and words, so I think it's easier.

Denis, you were exposed to Chinese, but were you studying it as well?

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Denis, you were exposed to Chinese, but were you studying it as well?

Nope. I guess that's why I didn't learn anything. So well, I must admit that if someone is learning or has already grasped the basics of English then I suppose intense exposure to the language does help make the language easier to learn.

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  • 1 month later...

I have heard more natives of other language say that English was easier to learn than other languages that they have learnt. Most of them however , were immersed so that could have played a good part in them understanding and learning the language more quickly.

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I think it only seems easier because of exposure. I mean we are so exposed to the English language that one eventually picks things up without even trying. But with regards to spelling, there are languages that are much easier to learn. Languages like Indonesian and Filipino since the words are spelt the way they sound. No silent letters and unnecessary double letters.

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I have not been exposed much to the English language when I grew up. Most of the foreign movies on TV were dubbed in German, so I didn't have the privilege to actually hear much spoken English until I started learning the language in school. But even then, my teacher was not of an English speaking background, and I only ever heard English spoken by native speakers when I started working for a company that hired a lot of Australians.

It took me about two months before I could actually understand fluent and fast spoken English. So, no, I wouldn't say that the English language is easier to learn than other languages. There is a difference between being able to communicate in a different language and the skill to have a sophisticated conversation.

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As someone who learned english early, English seems like such an easy language. After all, it only has 25 letters in the alphabet. Compare this with Chinese. That being said, after observing many international students, I've come to realize that English is no easier that any other language. English may only have 25 letters but there are so many phrases or "ways of speaking/writing" that go against the official rules. Basically, there's a ton of exceptions which make it difficult for foreigners to learn English.

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I strongly believe Norwegian is far easier to learn.  English is also easy to learn, mostly because everyone has contact with this language on a daily basis.  I still think the conjugation of most verbs in Norwegian is way more predictable than the conjugation of most verbs in English.

English isn't the easiest language to learn, that's for sure.  I mean, not with all those irregular verbs and colloquialisms.  But it sure is one of the most spoken and widely spread languages in the world, no doubt about it :)  It's so easy to learn it if you pay enough attention to TV and music ;)

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English has better exposure for sure, so for that reason it can be easier to learn. That doesn't make it an easy language but it is certainly easier than some others. For me so far Spanish has been easiest, and I have had many people tell me the same.

As far as hard goes, I've been told that my language as well as some similar Balkan languages are hardest to learn because of the structure of grammar. I am Bulgarian and live in Serbia. I've heard that Russian is hard to read. I'm currently learning Serbian. It's similar to my language, but if I want to really be fluent I do have to actively study it. German for example has 4 noun cases. Serbian has 7.

Of course none of that comes even close to how hard Japanese is for me, with the 2 alphabets and the choice between typing words with latin letters or learn signs...it's as if other languages are 2-d and Japanese is 3-d, it brings a whole new side to learning it:P. I do quite enjoy the challenge though.

I do think English was easiest for the exposure though, I think learning something since I was very little is a lot easier than learning it now.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's not that it's "easy", but I think because English has been exposed almost everywhere that anyone can get to learn parts of the language anywhere they look. I think "ease" comes with practice, really, haha, and more or less through exposure.

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I think "easy" is a relative term here.  With English as with any language the degree to which a person is motivated to learn the language has much to do with it.  I think that because many people may feel a strong motivation to learn the language they will do what it takes to master it.

English as with any language has its challenges.  Some of the grammar and spelling are difficult because they don't conform to specific rules, so it's a matter of buckling down and doing the work needed to learn the language.

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In my own opinion, English is the easiest language to study having been exposed to the language since I was in my preschool days, watching English TV programs, learning the alphabet through them and reading books, English became my favorite subject. Up until now, there is no other subject that is close to my heart, plus the fact that both jobs I am currently engaged in entitles me to use the language almost everyday. Koreans tell me that Chinese is more difficult to learn than English.

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English is definitely a very easy language to learn. The level of exposure to this language nowadays is extreme. Many languages even adopt English terms used in global media. I think from all world languages, English is one of the easiest to learn. But that is also a good thing for people having a native language other then English to pick up another language to learn and master.

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Easiest to learn? Perhaps, but only because of the abundance of learning tools around the world. You'll likely be able to find an english speaker in most places in the world, which makes picking it up quite easy and sometimes unavoidable. If it wasn't such a common and universal language, who knows if it would be easy to learn?

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One of my aunts is from Germany. She speaks German, French, Spanish and English. She said English was by far the hardest to learn. I also had a professor from Germany. He said the same thing. My Spanish professor also believed English was one of the hardest languages to learn because it is "backwards" from many other languages.

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There is not one certain answer. Everyone of us has their own fair share and experience with the English language being the international language or the language which is known to almost everyone. There are some people who can understand it just by a few years of exposure either through media or people and there are those who no matter how long they've been hearing it cannot really grasp the English language per se yet.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Continual exposure to any foreign language, may result in assisting to speak the language seem easier. However to master any language spoken or written requires lots of practice and hard work. In my opinion English has far to many exceptions to the standard rules to make grammatical English an easy language to learn.

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There are so many subtleties about English like the use of words that sound the same, but are spelled different, or spelled the same, but sound different (like red, read, and read), that they say it is a bit more difficult to learn than other languages when you are learning as an adult that speaks another language.

I think this seems to be an accurate assumption.

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I definitely find it the easiest to learn. I've spoken to many other people regarding this exact question and they all find it very easy to learn English too, saying that it is the easiest language they have had to learn.

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I don't really think that there are "easy" and "hard" languages. I suppose there may be some languages that many would consider to be simple in nature, but many languages have simple parts to them: and some more complex parts. It depends on a lot, I mean... No matter how "hard" the language is, if your parents tought it to you from birth you wouldn't really have a hard time with that language.

I think English is quite simple, but I've studied english for so many years that I can't even begin to think how I thought of it when i was new. I've been exposed to so much english daily, that I feel like I've spoken and written more in english than I have in my native language. With that being said, English does have some more complex parts to it, as with every other language.

Take german as an example, for a swedish person like me: many of the german words are very easy to learn due to swedish similarities. And thus, a lot of people consider german to be an "easy language", but if they were to start studying it... They'd realise that it really isn't. While vocabulary would be easy for us sweidsh people, the grammar is quite complex. I found the grammar to be very enjoyable, but I know a lot of people who cursed over how hard the grammar was.

In the same way, do I think that some parts of english is very simple, but there are also quite complex/hard parts with english. It's a very subjective question though.

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One point is that if you're taught since you were a kid, hard was made easy because kids are learning machines.

As for being hard and easy, sure there are, we just can't compare English grammar to German or Japanese for example!

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