Learning a foreign language can be an exciting, but also frustrating, experience. We often wonder if there are some languages that are easier for Italians to learn than others.
It is a diatribe with opposing supporters, from those according to whom Romance languages are easier to learn because they are similar to ours, to those who maintain that English is the mother tongue due to its simplicity and speed of learning.
In this article, we will present arguments in favor of both factions, providing some data that will help us understand the actual situation and give us a clearer idea of the issue.
Between truth and false myths: are Spanish and French ‘easy’ languages?
Some argue that Romance languages, such as Spanish and French, are easier for Italians to learn because they share many similar words and grammatical structures. Suffice it to say that 30% of the Spanish and French vocabulary is made up of words of Latin origin, which are similar or identical to the Italian ones.
Furthermore, the word order in Spanish and French sentences is similar to Italian, with the subject before the verb and the object after the verb, which is familiar and intuitive for Italians.
However, not everyone agrees with this statement and there are also some specific difficulties that Italians may encounter in learning these languages.
The challenges of Spanish
One of the main challenges for Italians in learning Spanish is the difference between the sounds of the letter “z”. In Spanish the letter “z” sounds like “th” in English. This difference in pronunciation can cause confusion and difficulty for Italians learning Spanish.
Additionally, Spanish has a verb form called “subjuntivo”, which does not exist in Italian. The subjunctive is used to express unreal desires, possibilities and actions. This verb form can be difficult to master, as it requires a careful understanding of grammatical rules that do not exist in our language.
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The challenges of French
As for French, one of the main difficulties for Italians concerns the pronunciation of nasal vowels, such as “on” and “en”. These vowels are common in French, but don’t exist in Italian, so they can be difficult to learn.
Additionally, French has a much more complex gender system than Italian, with rules that may seem arbitrary to a non-native speaker.
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English for Italians: an easy or difficult language to learn?
At the same time, there are those who argue that English is the native language due to its simplicity and speed of learning. English is a very popular and internationally used language, which means there are many resources available for learning it. However, English also has some peculiarities that can represent more than a few problems for Italians.
One of the most common difficulties for Italians is pronunciation. English has a number of vowel and consonant sounds that don’t exist in Italian, such as the “th” in “thing” and “thought,” the American “r,” and the aspirated “h.” These sounds can be difficult to pronounce and understand, especially at first.
Another difficulty is grammar, which can be very different from ours. The order of sentences and sentences often differs from the Italian one, making understanding not very intuitive.
Finally, it must be taken into account that the English language is very idiomatic, which means that there are many expressions and phrases that do not have a literal meaning, but are used in specific contexts.
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Which foreign languages are easier to learn between Romance languages and English?
Obviously there is no objective data that unequivocally demonstrates which of the Romance languages and English is easier for Italians to learn.
As often happens, a lot depends on personal inclinations and preferences. And one of the best ways to discover them is to know the peculiarities of some languages so as to choose the one that best suits your needs.
The only certainty is that choosing to study one of these three languages can open many doors from a professional point of view. According to a 2012 EU report, in fact, Spanish and French are the most studied languages in Italy after English, which is the language most requested by businesses.
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