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Easiest languages to listen to?

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
26 messages over 4 pages: 1 24  Next >>
Senior Member
Joined 3962 days ago

104 posts - 128 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, German
Studies: French

 Message 17 of 26
27 July 2015 at 7:38pm | IP Logged 
Spoken French is definitely harder to understand, compared with other languages. I study French for about 5
years now, and I still have much difficulties with comprehension of the spoken language at normal speed.

Someone said to me that if you learn french, you learn two languages: the spoken and the written language
and that's exactly what my experience is. I think that it's not just the liaison what makes it difficult, but also
the melody and intonation of french which is very different from other languages.

I studied a little bit of Spanish and when I went to Spain a few years ago, I had the impression to comprehend
quite something of wat they said to me. I couldn't exactly hear all the words they were saying, because I
learned only a few sentences, but some vocabulary is very similar to French and the language sounds just a
lot clearer: it was easier to distinguish the words a already knew.
1 person has voted this message useful

Joined 2115 days ago

19 posts - 52 votes 
Speaks: Macedonian*, English, Spanish
Studies: Italian, Turkish

 Message 18 of 26
15 August 2015 at 3:42pm | IP Logged 
Spanish can be extremely difficult as well. It depends on the dialect, but also the
level of education of the person that speaks. Regardless, everyday spoken Spanish is
very, very different from the Spanish in the news or that spoken in the majority of TV
series produced in Spanish. I'm talking strictly about pronunciation here, not
vocabulary (or register). This is true for all countries and very much the case in

A very recent example is the Cuban minister for foreign affairs talking yesterday on
the press conference regarding reopening of the US embassy. It was in all news. The
way he pronounced was almost school Spanish and extremely easy to understand. I've
never been to Cuba (I'd like to go) but I know for a fact NO ONE speaks (pronounces)
like that in Cuba in everyday life. NO ONE. Cubans can be extremely hard to understand
generally speaking. Of course, you may think formal language is easier to understand
in any case, but I repeat it's not about that that I'm talking here (vocabulary,
jargon or register). It's about pronunciation. Formal Spanish is very, very different
from informal Spanish in terms of how it is pronounced and this is universally true
for the language.

A while ago I did an exercise where I identified - I can't remember the correct number
but I think - up to 11 sounds (consonants) that exist in Macedonian but not in
Spanish. Now that's a BIG number. On the other hand, I could identify only ONE sound
that exists in Spanish but not in Macedonian. Now imagine what that means for the
average language learner when learning to listen to Macedonian or Spanish.

There is also the problem of sounds that blur into each other in Spanish, and sounds
that do not sound clear at all when you try to identify them - the typical example is
how b and v are indistinguishable and strangely enough, in many dialects Land R. There
is also the problem of omission of 's' in many situations.

Trust me when I say, after learning Spanish for almost 10 years - the language can be
extremely hard to listen to. I would think even more than French.

Edited by rodrigoau on 15 August 2015 at 3:55pm

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Joined 2193 days ago

40 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: Spanish*

 Message 19 of 26
10 October 2015 at 9:00am | IP Logged 
the easiest to hear is Spanish, easy phonemes.

Edited by phonology on 10 October 2015 at 9:06am

1 person has voted this message useful

United Kingdom
Joined 1821 days ago

15 posts - 20 votes
Speaks: English, Swedish*
Studies: Russian

 Message 20 of 26
11 October 2015 at 1:35pm | IP Logged 
For French (which I am not particularly good at) I have always thought that the Swiss French are MUCH easier to understand than any other French dialects. Particularly rural people. I can't put my finger on why, I just find that I understand almost everything they say. In Paris on the other hand I just feel totally intimidated by fast and slurry speech with lots of slang and unfamiliar expressions. In Switzerland you often hear native German speakers speak in French and those are excellent for understanding as well. Can't really say why.

For Russian, I don't really think it matters much - it sounds the same almost everywhere. Perhaps in bilingual areas of the ex USSR people are more used to "simplifying" their language for non-native speakers. I came across that in Latvia a few times: People who spotted me as a non-native speaker and switched over to "easy" Russian which was helpful for me at the time.

Spanish, I think Southern Spanish accent is easier than super fast Madrid Spanish.

With my native language - Swedish - I should imagine that the people from the far North are the easiest to understand, for foreigners, since they speak a lot slower than other parts of the countries. But their grammar is sometimes a bit bad.
2 persons have voted this message useful

CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 1767 days ago

9 posts - 14 votes
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: German, Spanish

 Message 21 of 26
28 November 2015 at 3:34am | IP Logged 
Maybe it's because I learned through mostly listening, but I find french much easier to
listen to and speak than to read. Though jokes usually go over my head. Written French
almost seems foreign to spoken French. There are a few tenses that are different, and
it's more rigid, I find. Thus, I struggle with reading and writing french, but speaking
is much easier (for me). Maybe you will find it is the opposite.

Edited by Peetpeet on 28 November 2015 at 3:36am

2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2925 days ago

747 posts - 1122 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin
Studies: French

 Message 22 of 26
01 December 2015 at 8:22pm | IP Logged 
Chinese Mandarin tends to be problematic because you have half-dozen words & phrases that sound similar except for the intonation. And then different regions of the China have their regional accents. And you have the distinction between the variations spoken in Taiwan and Singapore and different parts of China. Besides learning the many characters, the grammar rules are more straightforward than most Western languages.
Found a video recently of a British national (Chris Parker) who lives between Beijing and England speak Mandarin on Chinese TV:

Chris speaking fluent Chinese on national TV

When it comes to pronunciation, the Cantonese dialect spoken in Hong Kong, Macao and the neighboring Guangdong province in China with 9 different tones tends to be very hard to pronounce. Again you have many words that sound similar except for the intonation.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3149 days ago

1199 posts - 2192 votes 
Speaks: Croatian*, English, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Norwegian, Hindi, Nepali

 Message 23 of 26
10 December 2015 at 9:39pm | IP Logged 
I found spoken Swedish, Portuguese and Hindi easy.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 5078 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 24 of 26
11 December 2015 at 3:32pm | IP Logged 
European or Brazilian Portuguese? Or both? :)

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