I am thinking of experimenting and trying to learn an Austronesian language that my school offers. I have the option of:

  1. Hawaiian
  2. Maori
  3. Tahitian
  4. Tongan
  5. Samoan
  6. Ilokano
  7. Chamorro

Which one is the easiest to pick up and start understanding for a fluent English speaker, who also knows some Chinese?

I also plan on taking Indonesian in addition to one of these languages. I am planning to take Indonesian because it is recommended that you take a second Asian language in the Asian Studies program I am in and I would like to work possibly in that part of SE Asia.

I would like to take an Austronesian language because the culture fascinates me. There is no real need for me to take one of the above, but who knows? It might become useful at some point.


1 Answer 1


I would think not only about which language is easiest, but also which language is more interesting to me for whatever personal reasons. If you have emotional connection to a language, it is more fun to learn it.

Good personal reason could be:

  • planning a visit to a locale where language is spoken natively, convenience/expense for such trip.
    • I.e. for a person in USA, Hawaii is domestic trip, no visa is needed. For a person in New Zealand, Maori makes more sense using this criteria.
  • more available partners for language exchange interested in learning my L1
  • relation to other languages you may plan to learn later (you mentioned Indonesian: is any of languages on your list closer to Indonesian? Can be used in the same area?

Another considerations could be:

  • if any of the listed languages belong to same family and has higher level of mutual comprehension with other listed languages ("get two for a price of one").
  • availability of learning materials: FSI course? Anki cards available? Something in local public library?
  • Number of speakers: If you plan to use it for job purposes, it is the size of your market. You need to take into account what other languages speakers of the target language know (if they are bilingual), and prefer (which might be different: say they might know English, but speaking say Samoan gives you competitive advantage).
  • Thanks for the answer! I am definitely taking it into account, however, I updated my question with more clarification
    – Qiangong2
    Apr 25, 2018 at 5:02
  • 1
    @Qiangong2 I added few more consideration. Apr 25, 2018 at 15:50

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