Top 10 Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers
But when it comes to learning languages for English speakers, some languages are harder than others.
Let’s talk about the top 10 hardest languages to learn for English speakers.
Which are the most difficult languages to learn?
Everyone’s experience with learning a language is different; for some, it can be an arduous task while others may find the process rather effortless.
No matter your perspective, one thing remains certain: every journey begins by acknowledging that understanding new languages takes commitment and dedication.
This is the official language of Greenland and is spoken by about 57,000 people. Its grammar structure and vocabulary are very different from English making it one of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn.
It also uses several dialects depending on the region so learners have to be aware of any regional differences when speaking or writing in this language.
2. Mandarin Chinese
Chinese has a tonal system which means that changing the tone of a word can completely alter its meaning making it hard to pronounce and understand. Additionally, it’s an isolating language which means that each word stands alone and has no inflection or change in form when used in different contexts.
Unlocking the language of Mandarin Chinese can open up a world of opportunities. Although it is known to be tricky, conquering this vast body brings an abundance of benefits.
English-speaking expats have long known that mastering such a tongue gives access not only to hundreds upon thousands more people in China but also helps tap into one of their largest economies – making it well worth any effort put forth!
In a world of rapidly changing cultures, the Navajo language prevails as an unbroken link to Native American heritage. This native American language is spoken by about 170,000 people in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
Learning about this fascinating culture is not an easy task due to its distinctness compared with English; from long words featuring verbs in place of adjectives to no plurals or tenses. Instead, words change depending on context and the speaker’s point of view down to unfamiliar sounds that challenge any foreign speaker.
This language is spoken by roughly 5 million people in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. It has 15 cases which can be confusing for English speakers as they don’t exist in the English language.
With an intimidatingly complex grammar, Finnish may be one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn. Its unique word order rules can make conversations daunting and difficult to understand – even more so when Finns don’t follow these linguistic conventions!
Yet despite such obstacles, once you manage your way through them there is a world of marvel waiting with fewer letters than in English words and written as they are pronounced.
Basque is the oldest living language in Europe but it’s not related to any other known languages. As a result, words don’t have common roots like they do in other languages which can make it difficult to learn.
Learning Basque is a challenge for any language learner – its distinct noun cases, ergative-absolutive grammar system, and close connection to Georgian make it difficult but rewarding.
Being able to communicate fluently in the only isolate spoken on European soil provides an opportunity like no other: understanding the world through different perspectives!
This East Asian language is spoken by about 80 million people in South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Russia. Its writing system, Hangul, combines Chinese characters with two other scripts which make it difficult for learners to grasp the basic concepts of reading and writing.
Despite this complexity, grammar, and pronunciation are relatively straightforward compared with other languages such as those from Europe; however, word order can be hard for English speakers since formal levels of respect must also be taken into account.
Arabic is a Semitic language that has more than 300 million speakers around the world. It can be particularly challenging for English speakers because it is written from right to left and uses an alphabet that looks completely different from Latin script.
Arabic consists of multiple dialects that can vary drastically depending on the region.
Learning Arabic in Morocco won’t necessarily prepare you for conversations with those from Bahrain; however, with practice and perseverance, anyone can master this mesmerizing tongue.
Japanese has three writing systems: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Each system uses different characters or symbols which makes learning the language especially challenging for people who are accustomed to the Latin alphabet used by English.
Learning Japanese could seem like a daunting task, especially with three alphabets and the prospect of English-like pronunciation. But, unlike many other Asian languages, its sounds are similar to those used in English – making them easy for native speakers to pick up! So when considering learning this unique language, start by tackling spoken fluency first.
This language is spoken in Hungary and parts of Romania, Austria, Serbia, and Slovakia. Its structure is very different from English and it contains a large number of compound words which means memorizing long strings of letters.
Learning Hungarian can be a real challenge due to its abundance of irregularities. What makes it even more intriguing is that distinct meanings are created simply by combining various “morphemes” together!
With its complex grammar, Polish is one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. It also has many unique sounds that can be difficult to reproduce.
Polish presents a unique challenge to learners – the case system. With seven gender-specific cases and seventeen number variations, it can feel like discovering an entirely new language each time you say one simple number!
What Makes a Language Difficult?
One of the biggest challenges in language learning is understanding the complexity of the grammar rules of each language. Grammar can be highly structured or more flexible, depending on the language.
For example, English grammar is relatively straightforward with few exceptions compared to languages like German and Russian which have complex rules around verb conjugation, noun declension, or gender-based pronouns.
Another factor that makes a language difficult to learn is its vocabulary.
Languages can have vast vocabularies with hundreds of thousands of words, making it hard for learners to remember them all. Furthermore, some languages require learners to memorize multiple forms for each word based on its context (case in German) or pronunciation (tones in Mandarin Chinese).
The cultural and social context of a language is another factor that can make it difficult to learn. A language is more than just words and grammar; it carries with it a whole culture that can be hard for learners to pick up on.
Understanding idioms, slang, humor and other nuanced aspects of a language often require significant exposure to native speakers and culture.
Lastly, one’s native language may pose certain difficulties as well.
For example, speakers of Romance languages may find it challenging to learn English because the two languages have very different grammatical structures and pronunciations. This can make it difficult for them to adjust when learning a new language, as they are already accustomed to their native one.
On the other hand, those who speak Germanic languages such as Dutch or German may find it easier to learn English due to the similarities between these languages.
Similarly, those with a background in Eastern Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese may benefit from having similar writing systems which can aid them in mastering the written form of a new language more quickly.
All these factors can make learning a new language challenging but also incredibly rewarding. With patience and dedication, anyone can become proficient in any language they set out to learn!