By Geralde Vincent-Bancroft
If you’re an English speaker looking to learn a new language , you might be wondering which ones will be the most difficult for you. After all, there are over 6,500 languages spoken around the world, and some are definitely more challenging than others. Here are 10 of the most difficult languages to learn for an English speaker. We also add some tips to make the learning process easier.
Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, with over 1 billion speakers. It is also the official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, which means that the meaning of a word changes based on the tone in which it is spoken. This can make it one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to master.
Mandarin Chinese also has a unique writing system made up of thousands of characters, many of which are very complex.
However, Mandarin Chinese is becoming increasingly important in the business world, so it’s definitely worth learning if you can.
Arabic is spoken by over 420 million people in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Arabic is a Semitic language, which means it shares some similarities with Hebrew and Aramaic. However, its grammar and syntax are quite different from those languages, making it challenging for English speakers to master.
In addition, Arabic has many dialects that can vary significantly from one region to another.
Arabic has a complex grammar system with 3 different genders and 2 different number systems (singular and plural). It also uses a completely different alphabet than English. As a result, Arabic can be another one of various difficult languages for English speakers to learn.
However, it is a beautiful language with a rich cultural heritage, so it is definitely worth the effort.
Japanese is spoken by over 128 million people in Japan and other countries like Palau and Micronesia. It has 3 writing systems (kanji, hiragana, and katakana). This can make it very confusing for English speakers who are used to only one alphabet.
Kanji are logographic characters that are borrowed from Chinese; there are over 50,000 kanji characters in total. Hiragana and katakana are phonetic syllabaries used for writing native Japanese words; there are 46 characters in each syllabary.
In addition, Japanese has a complex honorific system. This dictates how people should speak to each other based on their relationship status (e.g., family members, friends, co-workers, etc.). However, Japanese is a fascinating language with a rich culture behind it, so it’s definitely worth learning if you can.
Korean is the national language of North and South Korea. There are an estimated 77 million Korean speakers worldwide. Korean has its own unique alphabet called Hangul; there are 24 letters in Hangul (14 consonants and 10 vowels).
In addition to Hangul, Korean also uses Hanja (Chinese characters) in some situations.
However, Hanja has been declining in recent years due to government policy discouraging their use in favor of Hangul.
Like Japanese, Korean has complex systems of honorifics and politeness levels that must be observed when speaking to someone in order not to cause offense.
Russian is spoken by over 277 million people in countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. It uses a different alphabet than English (Cyrillic), which can make it difficult to read and write Russian words correctly.
In addition, Russian has 7 different case endings for nouns (compared to only 3 in English), which can make declensions very confusing for English speakers who are used to only one way of doing things.
However, Russian is a beautiful language with a rich literary tradition.
Hungarian is spoken by over 13 million people in Hungary as well as countries like Romania and Slovakia. Learning Hungarian can be a formidable challenge – the language has been described as one of the most difficult languages to learn. With its 53 letters, 14 vowels, and intricate grammar rules, it is like no other language on earth!
Hungarian is based on a very regular system of conjugations and declensions. This makes it similar to many other European languages like German or Russian, but with its own unique flavour.
That said, mastering Hungarian may be worth the effort; the language is incredibly poetic and is filled with extraordinary imagery. Through studying Hungarian you may also gain fresh insight into European culture and religion.
In short, though daunting at first, learning Hungarian can open up an exciting linguistic world that you never knew existed!
Tai is spoken by over 60 million people in Thailand as well as other countries like Laos and Cambodia . Thai has 5 tones (compared to only 2 in English) , which can make it difficult to produce the correct sound when speaking Thai words .
For those considering taking on the challenge of learning Tai, it is important to note that this language is quite difficult when compared to other languages. Fortunately, the difficulty is not insurmountable with some dedication and persistence.
Those striving to master the language will find a great reward in unlocking the subtle nuances and beauty of this intricate language. With each step forward, learners will be rewarded with a deeper appreciation of their chosen endeavor.
Of course, for those willing to undertake such a commitment, the thrill of speaking an ancient language like Tai could very well be worth the effort. Clearly, there is a great deal of satisfaction awaiting those who put their minds and hearts into learning Tai.
Vietnamese is spoken by over 84 million people in Vietnam as well as other countries like Laos and Cambodia .
Learning Vietnamese can be a real challenge, particularly because of its unique grammar and tones that can completely change the meaning of words. Vietnamese has 6 tones (compared to only 2 in English) , which can make it difficult to produce the correct sound when speaking Vietnamese words .
But despite these difficulties, more and more people are taking up the challenge and reaping the rewards that come with being able to communicate in this beautiful language.
Learning Vietnamese isn’t just about learning a new language, it’s an opportunity to delve into a fascinating culture, explore intertwined traditions and understand a way of life.
So why not take the plunge and start your journey today!
Also known as Laotian, Lao is spoken by 6 million people.It is mainly spoken in Laos, as well as by some ethnic communities in Thailand and Vietnam. It belongs to the Tai-Kadai family of languages, and uses the same written alphabet as Thai which can add additional complexity.
It is traditionally believed to have descended from Old Chinese, making it one of many languages composed of complex tones and inflections.
Lao has 6 tones (compared to only 2 in English) , which can make it difficult to produce the correct sound when speaking Lao words .
All this makes mastering Lao quite daunting. Nevertheless, those up for the challenge will be rewarded with one of Southeast Asia’s richest cultures and a beautiful language that could open many doors.
Khmer is spoken by over 16 million people in Cambodia as well as other countries like Vietnam and Thailand .
It is certainly one of those difficult languages to learn – it poses a real challenge to even the most experienced linguist!
It has an incredibly complex grammar and a completely different alphabet.
Khmer has 33 consonants (compared to 26 in English) and 12 vowels (compared to 5 in English).
Moreover, pronunciation requires extensive practice so that you are able to differentiate among a wide range of sounds and patterns. Experienced learners may find it beneficial to keep up with regular practice, but even then, it can be a challenge.
For those wishing to understand its characters with tone marker markings, multiple pronunciation nuances, and often indecipherable script, there are seemingly endless possibilities for confusion.
If you are just starting out your journey, focus on simplifying your approach and embracing everyday mistakes as part of the learning process!
Learning these languages can be quite a challenge.. That said, there’s no need to worry—with enough focus, patience, and dedication, mastering their complexity is certainly within reach.
Even better, you’ll be entering a fascinating world full of diversity, rich poetry, and culture; one worthy of any linguist’s attention and admiration!