22 Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers

Learning a new language brings immense joy and great opportunities to gain tremendous benefits. Are you ready to learn a new language? Do you have the potential to learn even the hardest languages? If yes, then gear up!

Like every student or learner with a distinct learning style, all languages are not equally difficult. Some are the easiest, while some are the hardest or most difficult to learn.

Every language differs in complexity, variant characters, alphabet pronunciation, and several words, so learning it might not be easy. Which is the hardest language to learn, in your opinion? Can you guess which one is the most difficult language to learn?

This article will give you insights into the hardest languages to learn.

It is not easy to consider one language the most difficult one. It all depends upon the learner’s potential, the previous language they have learned, and their mother tongue.

For instance, English speakers find languages like Japanese, Arabic, and Hungarian the most difficult to learn. This is because of their complex grammar systems, phonics, and other features.

Learning a new language involves tremendous hard work and willpower. You need to be focused and put in much effort to master it.

We have a list of languages that are the hardest to learn.

Hardest languages to learn
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Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers

Below is the list of the most difficult languages to learn:

1. Mandarin Chinese

Where it’s spoken: Northern and South Western China, Taiwan

Why is it hard?

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the people living in China. It is one of the oldest languages in the world. Is Chinese hard to learn? It is the most difficult language to learn due to the following reasons:

  • The writing style is based on the Latin alphabet, which makes it most difficult for English speakers.
  • It comprises thousands of special characters, which are difficult to memorize and learn.
  • Not only writing but its tonal nature also makes it the most complex one.
  • This language contains four tonnes, each word with four different pronunciations and meanings. Learning four varied pronunciations and meanings becomes difficult.

These few reasons make this language the hardest language to learn.

2. Arabic

Where it’s spoken: the Middle East and North East Africa

Why is it hard?

Is Arabic hard to learn? This language is amongst the top five most difficult languages to learn. The reasons which make it the hardest are as follows:

  • It is a language comprising a non-Latin alphabet. Unlike Mandarin Chinese, it has only 28 script letters, but learners still face difficulty familiarizing themselves with varied writing styles.
  • Another reason for the complexity is that many vowels are excluded from words, making them difficult to read.
  • Its sounds and phonics also make it the hardest language to learn.
  • Complex grammar, verbs before the subject and the dual form of words make it complex.

3. Polish

Where it’s spoken: Brazil, Canada, Ukraine, Belgium, UK, US.

Why is it hard?

In terms of complexity, this language is number three on our list. The reasons that make it hard are given below:

  • Complex spelling and grammar.
  • Overburdening words with consonants increases the complexity of learners in terms of pronunciation and spelling.
  • But, keeping aside all the complexity, this language uses a Latin alphabet, which makes it easy for English speakers to learn and memorize.
  • Phonetics makes it the hardest language to learn.

4. Russian

Where it’s spoken: Russia, Belarus, Central Asia.

Why is it hard?

– This language is in love with the Cyrillic alphabet, which might have the exact resemblance but possess different sounds. For instance, the sound of “B” in the Cyrillic alphabet makes a “V” sound.

  • As this language omits the verb “to be” in the present form, it becomes difficult for beginners to form simple sentences.
  • It comprises distinct vowel sounds, which make it a complex task for learners.
  • It is also in love with consonants, which make spelling and pronunciation difficult to learn.
  • Coming to its plus point, it is the most beneficial language regarding career advancement and growth opportunities.

5. Turkish

Where it’s spoken: Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania.

Why is it hard?

Its complexity depends on various reasons:

  • It is a complex language because it accumulates prefixes and suffixes attached to the words.
  • This language might be confusing because it contains vowel harmony. Vowels change to make a word flow smoothly.
  • The following reason is the vocabulary word difficulty, making it the hardest language to learn.
  • Unlike other languages, it comprises easy grammar and spelling, which are easier to memorize.

6. Danish

Where it’s spoken: Denmark, Iceland, Greenland.

This language is comprised of simple grammar and various words that are similar to English.

Why is it hard?

Compared to other languages, Danish is the least difficult language to learn.

  • It is hard only because of its pronunciation and speaking styles.
  • It is monotonous.

7. Korean

Where it’s spoken: South Korea, North Korea.

Why is it hard?

Korean is counted among the oldest languages in the world. It is hard due to the following reasons:

  • Its complexity increases due to its pronunciation.
  • It comprises a complex grammar system.
  • Lastly, the sentence order is different as verbs come at the end of the sentences.

8. Navajo

Where it’s spoken: United States

Why is it hard?

Due to its unique features, this language becomes hard.

  • It comprises various consonants which are unfamiliar to English speakers.
  • It is also an agglutinative language that uses prefixes and suffixes by replacing prepositions. However, due to its unpredictable presentation, some people term it non-agglutinative.
  • Another reason is that it lacks familiar words, and its varied grammatical style made it so difficult that the Allies used Navajo speakers to send coded communications during World War 2.
  • This language became difficult to decode due to the lack of a dictionary.

These reasons contribute to making this language the hardest language to learn.

9. Finnish

Where it’s spoken: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Brazil, Estonia, Canada.

Why is it hard?

It is a tricky language to learn due to:

  • It comprises 15 various cases of Nouns.
  • It belongs to the Finno-Logic language without Latin or German influence, making it unfamiliar.
  • It has long vowels, consonant sounds, and complex grammar.
  • To frame a simple sentence, one must know conjugation, consonants, gradation, the case system, and pronoun declination.

10. Vietnamese

Where it’s spoken: Vietnam, Southern China.

Why is it hard?

Its complexity is due to the following reasons:

  • Difficult pronunciation, unfamiliar grammar, and six alternative tones make it a difficult language.
  • According to the FSI, anyone wanting to master it must spend at least 1,100 hours in class to acquire proficient skills.
  • It contains a high number of vowel sounds.
  • Unlike English, it also comprises more pronouns and uses “classifiers” ( words that change nouns), which are unfamiliar.

11. Mongolian

Where it’s spoken: Mongolia, East-Central Asia.

Why is it hard?

  • It is hard due to its complex pronunciation.
  • Due to its unpopularity, it lacks the resources to master it.
  • It is strongly in love with its culture and history, so it is harder than other languages.
  • The sentence structure is different from that of other languages.
  • It comprises agglutinative morphology, which adds various suffixes to the word to alter its meaning.

12. Hungarian

Where it’s spoken: Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia.

Why is it hard?

It is hard due to the following reasons:

  • It comprises 18 cases and 14 vowels, which make it a complex language.
  • It lays stress on more idioms and phrases that are hard to memorize.
  • It has various vowels and consonants, which make it a tricky language.
  • It is also an agglutinative and vowel harmony language.

13. Thai

Where it’s spoken: Thailand

Why is it hard?

It is hard because:

  • It has complex pronunciation and writing styles, five tones, and long and short vowel sounds.
  • The alphabets in this language have 44 consonants and 32 vowels, which makes it tricky.
  • Its writing system is difficult for Chinese and English speakers as it is derived from an Indian script.

14. Icelandic

Where it’s spoken: Iceland

Why is it hard?

This language is hard due to the following reasons:

  • It has many letters that are unfamiliar to English speakers. It also comprises four cases and three genders, making learning hard.
  • According to the FSI, it is the most difficult language to learn and ranks fourth in complexity.
  • It comprises complex grammar, vocabulary, and tricky pronunciation.
  • To master it, a person needs to spend around 1,100 hours.

15. Georgian

Where it’s spoken: Georgia

Why is it hard?

Its complexity is due to the following reasons:

  • It comprises a writing system that is not familiar to English speakers.
  • It has a tricky pronunciation, which makes it hard to learn.
  • It is unique and isolated from other languages, and it is comprised of a difficult verb system.

16. Czech

Where it’s spoken: Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Republic

Why is it hard?

It is hard due to:

  • Complex pronunciation.
  • It contains multiple consonants, and the grammar structure differs from English, making it hard to learn.
  • Confusing and tricky verbs.

17. Albanian

Where it’s spoken: Albania, Sweden, Italy, Greece.

Why is it hard?

This language is hard due to the following reasons:

  • It has a 36-letter alphabet, which you must spend enough time mastering.
  • It comprises exceptional grammatical rules which are hard to memorize.

18. Greek

Where it’s spoken: Greece, Cyprus.

Why is it hard?

The Greek language is amongst the hardest languages to learn due to the following reasons:

  • It has varied alphabets and difficult grammar structures, making it a complex language.
  • It contains many grammatical rules, gendered nouns, and unusual conjugations.
  • Phonics is different from the English language.

19. Japanese

Where it’s spoken: Japan, Palau.

Why is it hard?

The Japanese language is hard to learn because of the reasons mentioned below:

  • It has a complex writing system, which is variant unless you know Chinese.
  • Although the grammar is simple, it uses particles for parts of speech unfamiliar to English speakers, making it hard for them to learn.
  • It involves great memorization skills as it contains thousands of characters.
  • It requires various forms based on its context.

20. Cantonese

Where it’s spoken: South China, Hong Kong, Macau.

Why is it hard?

This language is also on the list of the hardest languages to learn for the given reasons:

  • It has eight tones in totality, which makes it the most difficult language to learn.
  • Its writing system is based on pictures, which makes it impossible for learners to learn phonetics.
  • The simplified version of this language, Mandarin, lacks resources to learn.

21. Estonian

Where it’s spoken: Estonia.

Why is it hard?

This language is hard to learn because of the following reasons given below:

  • It has 14 noun cases, which makes it hard for English speakers to learn.
  • It also comprises consonants and vowels with short, long, and very long lengths.
  • The grammar is filled with many exceptional rules that need lots of practice.

22. Burmese

Where it’s spoken: Myanmar, Burma.

Why is it hard?

It is hard due to the following reasons:

  • It requires around 1,100 hours of study to achieve proficiency in reading and speaking skills.
  • Lack of learning resources and shortage of teachers with limited learning opportunities.
  • Complex grammar structure, Burmese script, and vocabulary make it a complex language for English speakers.

These are the list of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn.

Final Thoughts

Now, in your opinion, what is the hardest language to learn? The above reasons can give you an idea of which language is the hardest. Learning a difficult language, especially a complex one, involves lots of effort and time. But no doubt, facing a challenge by learning the hardest language gives immense pleasure and satisfaction.

Learning the hardest and new languages will help form connections with different people and cultures. So, gear up to overcome the challenge.

Enjoy learning and forming connections!

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