Like English, Afrikaans is in the West Germanic language family. Unlike English, its structure won’t make your head spin. A great feature of Afrikaans, especially for grammar-phobes, is its logical and non-inflective structure. Unlike English, there is no verb conjugation (swim, swam, swum). Unlike Romance languages, there is no gender (un homme, une femme in French).2) French
Another feature of Afrikaans is its vocabulary, which shares many Germanic-derived root words that are familiar to English speakers. Vocabulary-building is as easy as pointing to an object and asking, “Wat is dit in Afrikaans?”
Linguists estimate that French has influenced up to a third of the modern English language, from the language of the courts in the 11th century to modern terms like je ne sais quoi, après-ski, and bourgeois.3) Spanish
For language learners, English has more in common lexically with French than any other Romance language. This means that French vocabulary is more familiar, recognisable, and easy to comprehend. Advanced French learners may struggle with its gendered nouns and 17 verb forms, but for conversational learning, it’s relatively facile.
For language learners, a great feature of Spanish is its shallow orthographic depth – that is, in most cases, words are written as pronounced. This means that reading and writing in Spanish is a straightforward task.4) Dutch
Pronunciation is also fairly easy for native English speakers, with only ten vowel and diphthong sounds (English has 20), and no unfamiliar phonemes except for the fun-to-pronounce letter ñ. Grammatically speaking, Spanish has fewer irregularities that other Romance languages.
Dutch is both structurally and syntactically familiar for English speakers. In terms of pronunciation and vocabulary, it parallels English in many ways, such as groen (green) or de oude man (the old man). In addition to familiar Germanic root words, the Dutch language adopted many loan words from French, with familiar words like drogeren (drug) and blok (block).5) Norwegian
Though some vowel sounds may be new for English speakers, Dutch pronunciation follows the English model of syllable stress, so pronouncing Dutch words is somewhat intuitive.
Dutch is similar to German, but because it has no cases and a less complicated grammatical system, many linguistic scholars consider Dutch to be the easiest language for English speakers.
Norwegian and English have very similar syntax and word order. Verbs are an especially simple feature, with no conjugation according to number or person. The rules of conjugation are particularly straightforward, with a simple –e suffix for past tense, and –s for passive verbs.6-10) Portugese, Swedish, Italian, Esperanto, Frisian - see the Telegraph photo gallery for commentary.
Norwegian has the logical system of a tonal “pitch accent” to stress either the first or second syllable in matching words, as in English’s “desert” and “dessert”.
The one drawback to studying Norwegian is finding opportunities to use it. In Norway’s top-ranking education system, English is taught nationwide, starting at the primary school level, and most Norwegians are near-fluent.