Are you one of those people who want to take up a foreign language but can’t decide which? Or one who feels discouraged from learning a language owing to its difficulty level? Fret not. There is always a way around everything and in this case, the best starting point is to choose a language closest to your native tongue or one that belongs to the same language family. This gives you a ready base for the language as well as some motivation to continue studying it, as you discover very interesting common and uncommon features in both languages. And to top it all- you end up knowing your native tongue even better than before!
As Indians, most of us are naturally polyglots. This gives us the skills and the opportunity to take on new languages without investing too much of our time on them. Many Indians also have a good grasp of English apart from being fluent in Hindi and other regional languages. So why not make use of our inherent language skills to the maximum and develop them some more?
Here are 6 foreign languages that are the easiest for Indians to learn:
French belongs to the Indo-European language family and is a part of the Romance languages, along with Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Catalan and Italian. The Norman invasion of Britain in the 11th century has greatly influenced English through the introduction of French. Hence, the two languages share many grammatical features and a large number of words in both the languages have the same Latin roots making the vocabulary easy to understand.
Learning French will certainly turn you from a tourist to a traveller and help you soak in the rich history and art. And if parfums, chocolat, fondue, cinéma, café, Paris, and the rest are close to your heart, then French is definitely the language for you.
Spanish is a phonetic language and words are pronounced just as they are written, unlike French. This makes reading and speaking relatively simple and the language can be learnt quickly.
Today, Spanish has gained global importance with regards to business. It is an official language across four continents. Learning Spanish is definitely a smart choice and may be your chance to be at the next Tomatina festival.
This West Germanic language is not very well known as it’s only spoken in some African countries including South Africa and Namibia. The best feature of Afrikaans is the absence of verb conjugation and noun gender; two of the most difficult grammar topics to learn in a foreign language. Moreover, being a Germanic language, its vocabulary is quite similar to English.
South Africa has the largest and best developed economy on the continent, and professionals conducting trade or business in the country may find learning Afrikaans really helpful. Learning it would also benefit those interested in working with NGOs in South Africa and Namibia.
English and German both belong to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family and thus share many features. Moreover, as Indians, if you have a background in Sanskrit as well, German could be quite easy for you.
Apart from Germany, German is also an official language in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. It is also the native language of a significant portion of the population in northern Italy, eastern Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, eastern France, parts of Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Romania, as well as in other parts of Europe. Germany has the third largest economy in the world and is the economic powerhouse of the European Union.
Germany’s economic strength equals business opportunities. Multinational business opportunities exist throughout the European Union as well as in Eastern European countries, where a lot of German is used. So learning German can definitely give you a career boost.
Similar to French and Spanish, Italian also uses the same alphabet as English and has its roots in Latin making acquisition of vocabulary easy for English speakers. Also, tenses in Italian closely correspond to the English tense system.
Like France, Italy is one of the most popular destinations for tourists. Italian is most often associated with beautiful art, food and fashion. But it is not just spoken in Italy – there are Italian-speaking minority communities across the world. The language plays a significant role in international relations as an official language of the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
India has very old links with the Arab world and with Persia. Different dynasties from that part of the world ruled India for many years. We also notice the existence of many loan-words from Farsi, Arabic and Turkish in Hindi/Urdu, the lingua franca of most part of northern India.
Arabic is the official language of over 20 countries and there are well over 300 million native speakers of the language. It is also an official language of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the African Union.
There is a high demand and low supply of Arabic-speakers in the Western world. Not many people take up learning Arabic. With the growing importance of the Middle East in international affairs, there is a huge crunch of workers fluent in the Arabic language and culture. Arabic students have a vast career canvas laid out before them: journalism, business and industry, education, finance and banking, translation and interpretation, consulting, foreign service and intelligence, and many others. Moreover, Arabic music and poetry can definitely open up new cultural horizons for you.
So stop deliberating, choose a language, pursue it and do not stop until you start dreaming in French, Italian or Arabic!