Monday, April 13, 2020

3 Easy Foreign Languages to Learn by Finnegan Pierson

The easiest languages to learn are the ones you'll get to use the most. If your partner, roommates, friends, co-workers or family speak a certain foreign language, it'll be easier to learn.

Similarly, having a job where you communicate regularly in a foreign language will help, too. So does studying with a group of language learners who are hoping to travel to another country as they'll make great people to practice with. Generally, the most important thing is that you have a lot of opportunities to practise your new languages.

If that isn't the case, here are three languages on the easier side of things.

Easy Languages to Learn

Spanish, Portuguese and French are three languages that regularly appear in studies as the easiest for English speakers to learn.

Spanish, for example, uses the same alphabet English alphabet (barring a few accented letters) and it has only a few grammatical irregularities.

Portuguese, which shares many similarities with Spanish, also has a lot of common ground with English.

The English vocabulary includes tonnes of French words, words of French origin, or words that found their way to us from other languages via French. Furthermore, it uses the same alphabet and, as a Romance language, shares a lot of similarities with Spanish and Portuguese.


Spanish is spoken by 14 million people in the United States. If you live in the US, then you will probably know someone who speaks perfect Spanish. After all, a large percentage of the Spanish-speaking community speaks both Spanish and English fluently.

You can also find a lot of resources for learning Spanish as well as apps and games like Duolingo to get you started.

How Similar to English is Spanish?

Compare these English words: Liberty, dentist, artist, famous, democracy, and photo to the Spanish words: libertad, dentista, artista, famosa, democracia, and foto.

See how similar they are in sound and spelling?

While this is just a small exmaple,  many words could be included in examples like this.

Comparing English to Portuguese

To learn a language like Portuguese, you'll be happy to know that it is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Portuguese is the ninth most spoken language in the world.

Where is Portuguese Spoken?

Portuguese, as you could probably guess, was originally spoken in just Portugal. When Portuguese explorers went to South America in the 16th century, they brought their language with them.

In Brazil, Portuguese is spoken as the native language. It is also spoken in as a secondary language in parts of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The Portuguese also colonised West Africa in the 16th century. African countries that also speak Portuguese include Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé, and Equatorial Guinea.

There are parts of India and East Asia that were also introduced to Portuguese through colonisation. East Timor also has a tiny Portuguese-speaking community.

It won't be too hard to find someone else who wants to study and practise speaking Portuguese.

Learning French

Many English speakers are technically already familiar with a lot of French vocabulary. Under Norman rule, a lot of French vocabulary made their way into the English language.

Here are some French words already used in the English language:

  • Fiancé
  • Déjà-Vu
  • Mirage
  • Façade
  • Pot-pourri
  • Hors d’œuvre
  • Cul-de-Sac
  • Matinée
  • Coup-de-Grâce
  • Encore
  • Souvenir
  • Avant-Garde
  • Touché
  • Risqué

French and Spanish are quite similar, so if you grasp Spanish, you'll be able to learn French.

For example, uno, dos, tres in Spanish is un, deux, trois in French. Of course, the main problem will be confusing the two. Make the most of French culture, go to French restaurants and practice ordering the food or find someone from practice with a French-speaking person from France, Belgium, Switzerland, or Canada, for example.

Learning a language is a great experience and can help you to see new cultures, meet new people, and provide a boost to your career. Anybody who has learned a second language will tell you; you won't regret it.

Finnegan Pierson loves languages and has a passion for different cultures, and writing. As a freelance writer, Finn hopes to influence others to enjoy cultures and be inspired to learn other languages. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Positive Effects Learning a Second Language Can Have On Your Mind by Luke Smith

Learning a second language is a challenge at any age, but it can be especially difficult for adults. Being bilingual means that you have to think and process multiple languages simultaneously, and that kind of cognitive agility and plasticity gets tougher as you get older — ask anyone over the age of 40!

But the fact is that learning a second language brings with it a range of benefits that make the effort worthwhile. These benefits range from delaying cognitive decline and decreasing the risk of dementia to using that second language to up an array of professional and personal opportunities.

A Change of Mind

One of the most significant and exciting benefits of learning a second language is the vast and often life-long benefits to your brain. Studies show that bilingual people tend to be more cognitively adaptable. They can easily and quickly switch between tasks or tackle multiple tasks at once.

This is because becoming bilingual, by definition, requires you to move deftly between multiple languages to understand and to make yourself understood. That kind of cognitive agility helps you not only when you are a child or young adult, either, as studies show that people who speak more than one language tend to retain their mental sharpness well into old age. Bilingual people with Alzheimer's show their first symptoms an average of five years later than patients who speak only one language.

Multiple Benefits

When you're learning a second language, you're not just honing your ability to move seamlessly between two languages. You're also developing skills that can come in handy in other areas of your life, both at work and home. For one thing, studying a second language requires you to become a master of details. You have to refine your powers of observation, noticing those little nuances that make the language work.

Not only that, but you're also going to get quite good at problem-solving. Because, as anyone who has ever learned a second language knows, becoming bilingual is about more than substituting words in one language for words in another. It's about figuring out how to use not only the vocabulary of the second language but also its systems of grammar and syntax, to both make meaning and express it. And that requires a strong ability to problem-solve.

As you're learning the nuances of a second language, as strange as it may seem, you're also going to be learning about your mother tongue. For many of us, our native language is second nature. We learn it primarily through exposure, habit, and mimicry.

But, outside of our language arts classes in school, we rarely have an opportunity to study our native language or think about how it works. That also means that we're often reproducing errors that we've heard all our lives but never realized were incorrect until exposure to the second language required us to develop a deeper and better understanding of our first.

Expanding Horizons

There's no doubt about it, we live in an increasingly globalized world. Learning a second language is going to help you participate in that world. For instance, if you are one of the rapidly growing numbers of remote workers worldwide, you're no longer limited by geographic boundaries or physical distance. Your clients and partners can be located anywhere in the world. Speaking multiple languages allows you to vastly expand the possibilities of the remote work you do, the people you partner with, and the clients you serve.

But it's not just remote workers who can benefit professionally from speaking a second language. If English isn't your first language, for example, studying it as a second language can open up the world of business, no matter where you might be located because, increasingly, English is being chosen as the lingua franca of international business. 

Best of all, if you can speak more than one language, that simply increases your chances for new adventures. You'll be able to travel more widely and do it with more skill, confidence, and enjoyment. It'll also open up more opportunities to meet new and different people, experience different cultures, and more — and increased socialization, in any form, is known to have health benefits, too.

The Takeaway

Being bilingual is more than an impressive party trick to perform in front of your monolingual friends. Learning a second language provides important cognitive benefits that will extend throughout your whole life.

You will become more mentally agile and adaptable. You'll hone your multitasking and problem-solving skills. You'll develop your observational skills and become a master of fine details. And you'll even get better at speaking and writing in your mother tongue. Learning a second language can also help you ward off the effects of dementia and Alzheimer's. You'll retain your mental acuity longer.

Bilingualism can also open up an entire world of personal and professional opportunities. Whether you dream of jetting off on new adventures by traveling internationally, or you are looking to grow your business by going global, speaking multiple languages opens the world to you, your family, and your business.

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but linguistics topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.