Commenters are discussing this question. Mr. India first said that Indians speak English well because they speak an Indo-European language natively. First of all, it’s dubious whether most Indians speak an Indic language natively. Many speak Dravidian and Asiatic languages natively.
Wade: I doubt that the fact that both are Indo-European really matters a lot. I doubt learning Russian would be easy just because I speak English. The European countries don’t have a “native” English tradition implanted by colonialism like India does.Cyrus: Trust me when I say it does, Wade. It is more than just remembering words, but a way of thinking. For you to learn Russia would be simpler than if you tried to learn Chinese. Like wise, you could pick up Persian far easier than Turkish. I’ve seen that happen over and over again.
The problem is that the obvious cognates are few and far between. I know Indo-European studies pretty well, and I have been through a lot of the IE etymological dictionary (Pokorny). Indic is one of the most screwed up branches as far as cognates with English are concerned. Sure there are lots of cognates, but they look little or nothing like their English cognate words! Iranic is similar – there are almost no obvious cognates left that I’m aware of. The cognates are there, but they are badly mangled.
Slavic is bad too, but I think maybe not quite as bad as Indo-Iranian. Baltic is bad, maybe the same as Slavic or closer.
The closest to English are obviously Germanic and Italic, which obviously has lots of words in which cognates line up quite well with English words, though in many cases the only English word cognate anymore is a dead one from Old English or Middle English.
For some reason, Celtic is actually ok as far as English cognates, but a lot of them are pretty removed from the English word, and it’s a stretch to see how the Celtic looks like the English word. But it’s probably second after Italic – Germanic.
Greek is ok due to all the borrowings, but there’s not a lot there either, plus the alphabet is different, so that seems to ruin everything.
Albanian and Armenian are disasters. There’s virtually nothing left, and the few cognates typically look almost nothing like the English word.
I have known many speakers of Dravidian languages and many speakers of Indian Indic languages. The Dravidian speakers’ English is no better or worse than the Indic speakers’ English.
Speaking Indic as a native language seems to be little or no benefit in learning English as opposed to speaking Dravidian as a native language.