Which languages are the most difficult to learn? You can see where different languages broke off as you peel back the onion to the beginnings of language creation, often known as the ‘Old World Language Families.’ You may now see why Spanish has parallels to languages such as German, Italian, and French. And why Korean is comparable to Mandarin, Japanese, and other Asian languages. We’ll concentrate exclusively on the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn.
1. Mandarin: Why it’s so difficult: English may be the most widely spoken language on the planet, but it comes with its own set of challenges for native speakers. Because Mandarin is a tonal language, adjusting your tone can give a word a whole different meaning. Thousands of letters, intricate systems, and a wealth of homophones make it one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world.
2. Icelandic: Why it’s difficult: The Icelandic language has remained unchanged since the ninth and eleventh centuries, but it continues to add new meaning to old terms. It also doesn’t help that there are only about 400,000 native speakers with whom you can practise.
3. Japanese: Why is it difficult: There are three distinct writing systems in Japanese: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Japanese students must first study thousands of distinct characters in these writing systems before they can begin writing. It is, nevertheless, much less difficult to learn than Mandarin!
4. Hungarian: Why is it difficult: As previously stated, most languages are descended from the Indo-European language family. Hungarian, on the other hand, is a Finno-Ugric language in which words are produced separately. To put it another way, it’s not the way English speakers generally construct words or phrases. ‘With my [female] friend,’ for example, is shortened to to ‘barátnőmmel.’ Are you perplexed yet? We’re in the same boat.
5. Korean: Why is it difficult: Korean is an isolated language that is not related to any other language family. There’s more, though. There are seven main speech levels in Korean, which native speakers switch between, depending on the formality.
6. Arabic: Why is it difficult: Despite the fact that there are 221 million native speakers from whom you can learn, Arabic remains one of the most difficult languages to master. First, when writing, vowels are not included. To make matters even more complicated, most Arabic letters are written in four distinct ways depending on where the word is placed.
7. Finnish: Have you ever seen The Lord of the Rings? The Elvish language was founded on the Finnish language by author J.R.R. Tolkien. Finnish, like Hungarian, is a Finno-Ugric language with a lot of grammatical intricacy. And just when you think you’ve figured out how to translate Finnish to English, you’ll discover that current Finnish speakers have their own method of expressing emotions that differs from the standard translation!
8. Polish: Making pierogies is one thing, but speaking the language of the country that produces them is another. The Polish language’s complexity can be divided into two categories. First and foremost, the pronunciation. For novice learners, simply saying ‘hello’ (cześć) is a headache because the ‘c’ and’s’ are pronounced significantly differently than in English. The other is that the Poles have seven different gender-affected grammatical cases and seventeen different cases for numbers. Yes, there are seventeen distinct ways to say ‘ten.’
The main crux is that the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers are determined by a variety of criteria, not just one. The number of speakers, linguistic origins, resemblance to English, and other factors all contribute to how difficult it will be to learn. Every language will have its own set of difficulties, but it will also have its own set of rewards, joys, and fulfilment. Remember that whatever language you choose to study, your time will be well invested.