Now, before I even start to try and tell you which Asian language is easiest to learn, I should preface this article, by saying I know 0 Asian languages. I have never been to Asia, nor have I truly tried learning any of these languages. However, I have done a deep dive into this topic as I saw it was a keyword that was searched for quite a bit in Google. Also, I was curious myself – “which is the easiest Asian language to learn?”. Well, I researched this topic, and can report back. Bonus – I also included some info about other Asian languages in case anyone is interested in learning another one of the more popular Asian languages. So, selamat datang and let’s see (spoiler alert if you know which language that phrase is from)!
What is the Easiest Asian Language to Learn?
Well, the easiest Asian language is probably not one you were thinking. It’s Indonesian. With 200 million speakers worldwide though, there is still plenty of opportunity to be able to use this language if you decide to learn it. Indonesian is much easier than their continental counterparts, for several reasons. The major one is that Indonesian uses the latin alphabet (same as English), so you should at least have a decent idea of how to say a word when looking at it. Also, there are no conjugations in Indonesian. It doesn’t matter if you, your mother, or your dentist does something, the verb will always be the same word. This is different than the European languages. Best of all compared to other Asian languages, there are no tones, meaning the inflection of your voice doesn’t change the meaning of the word.
Not only does Indonesian have hundreds of millions of native speakers, but it is similar to other popular languages like Malay, and Tagalog, so you can use what you’ve learned for those other common Asian languages! The only downside of learning Indonesian is that much of the Indonesian population also speaks English, and dialectal Indonesian is common, meaning even if you know the language it could be difficult to understand the dialects you would hear in that country!
Other Asian Languages
Now, I know when we think of Asian languages to learn, many of us don’t think of Indonesian. The most common ones people think of are Mandarin, Japanese, and even Korean. It may be surprising that Indonesian has more native speakers than both Japanese and Korean. Although, due to the cultures of both of those languages and their impact on Western culture (think anime and K-pop) those languages are more common for learners.
If you want to learn one of those languages, first-off good luck. The Foreign Service Institute ranks all three of them in the hardest category for English speakers to learn with only Arabic as being the other language included. These languages are all difficult due to the tonal nature of the language, different writing systems, and layered levels of formality and other things that can make the grammar difficult to master. Of all the languages, Korean is by far the easiest to read because their alphabet, Hangul, consists of 24 letters and they each have a distinct sound. Many people say that you can learn to read Korean in a day as opposed to Japanese and Chinese. Whichever language you choose though, your best bet will be following the one that you have the strongest desire to pursue as that will be the only way that you stick with it.
Well, there you have it! If you are looking to master any Asian language, then Indonesian will be your easiest bet. There are tons of ways to learn a new language in today’s world, whether it be with ChatGPT or other applications, but whichever language you explore, good luck and enjoy the journey!