Advertising
Advertising

7 Most Difficult Languages In The World to Learn For English Speakers

7 Most Difficult Languages In The World to Learn For English Speakers

What are the hardest languages to learn? It depends on what languages you already speak.

When you peel the onion back to the beginnings of language formation, such as by studying the “Old World Language Families” tree below, you will be able to see where different languages branched off. Now, you may be able to notice why Spanish has similarities with languages like German, Italian, French, etc.

    That’s why the hardest languages to learn for native Korean speakers will be different from those that are hardest for native English speakers like us. Today, we’re going to focus solely on the hardest languages to learn for English speakers (hint: they’re located in different branches on the language tree from English!) We’ve also written about the easiest languages to learn, which we recommend checking out in our magazine at Rype.

      Official stats

      If you’re looking for official statistics, the Defense Language Institute (where they teach members of the CIA foreign languages!) has organized languages into four categories, the 1st Category being the easiest, and the 4th Category being the hardest languages to learn for English speakers.

      Advertising

      • Category 1: Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese
      • Category 2: German, Indonesian
      • Category 3: Hebrew, Hindi, Persian Farsi, Russian, Serbian, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, Turkish, and more…
      • Category 4: Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Modern Standard Arabic, and more…

      7 Hardest Languages in the World for English Speakers to Learn

      We’re going to give you the full, extensive list below. Enjoy, and let us know below if you’re going to take on the challenge of learning one of these difficult languages.

      1. Mandarin

      Number of native speakers: 1.2 billion
      Country with the greatest number of speakers: China

      Why it’s so hard: It may be the most spoken language in the world, but it comes with its own difficulties for English speakers. Since Mandarin is a tonal language, you can have a completely different meaning of a word just by changing your tone. Add to that thousands of characters, complex systems, and the language’s richness in homophones, and you’ve got one of the hardest languages to learn in the world.

        2. Icelandic

        Number of native speakers: 330,000
        Country with the greatest number of speakers: Iceland

        Why it’s hard: While the Icelandic language has not changed much since the island was settled in the ninth and tenth centuries, it continues to add new meaning to old words. It also doesn’t help that there are fewer than 400,000 native speakers who you can learn and practice with.

        Advertising

          3. Japanese

          Number of native speakers: 122 million
          Country with the greatest number of speakers: Japan

          Why it’s hard: Japanese has three independent writing systems: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Before they can start writing, Japanese learners need to learn thousands of different characters in these writing systems. It is, however, easier to learn than Mandarin!

            4. Hungarian

            Number of native speakers: 13 million
            Country with the greatest number of speakers: Hungary

            Why it’s hard: Most languages spoken in Europe come from the Indo-European language family shown in the tree above. But not Hungarian. It is instead a Finno-Ugric language in which words are formed in an isolated manner. In other words, it’s nothing like how English speakers normally structure words or sentences. For example, “with my [female] friend” is combined into just “barátnőmmel.” Confused yet? So are we.

            Advertising

              5. Korean

              Number of native speakers: 66.3 million
              Country with the greatest number of speakers: South Korea

              Why it’s hard: Korean is a language isolate, which means it isn’t linked to any other language family root. But wait, there’s more. Korean has seven different speech levels which native speakers flip back and forth on, depending on the formality.

                6. Arabic

                Number of native speakers: 221 million
                Country with the greatest number of speakers: Egypt

                Why it’s hard: Despite having 221 million native speakers who you can potentially learn from, Arabic is still one of the hardest languages to learn. First, vowels are not included when writing. And, to complicate things further, most Arabic letters are written in four different forms depending on the placement of the word.

                Advertising

                  7. Finnish

                  Number of native speakers: 5.4 million
                  Country with the greatest number of speakers: Finland

                  Why it’s hard: Ever watched the Lord of The Rings? The Finnish language is what the author J.R.R. Tolkien based the Elvish language on. Finnish, like Hungarian, is a Finno-Ugric language in which grammar complications are taken to the extreme. And, just when you’ve got the hang of translating Finnish to English, you’ll quickly find out that modern Finnish speakers have their own way of expressing emotions that’s different from the traditional translation!

                    The takeaway

                    The bottom line is, which are the hardest languages for English speakers to learn depends on a number of different factors, not just one. The number of speakers, the language’s origins, its similarity to English, and other factors contribute to determining how much difficulty you’ll have learning it.

                    But what’s important is not which is the “hardest language to learn.” As with learning any language, it comes down to how passionate you are about learning, how you’ll deal with psychological fears, and who you to go to for help.

                    Every language will come with its own challenges, but it’ll also come with its own rewards, experiences, and fulfillment. Remember, whichever language you decide to learn, your time will be well worth the investment.

                    More by this author

                    8 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn in Less Than 6 Months 10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day 17 Free Websites That Will Improve the Quality of Your Life Today You Don’t Need Extremely High IQ to Be Successful, You Need Self-Control 5 Essential Activities That Will Make Your Brain Healthier

                    Trending in Communication

                    1 How to Live up to Your Full Potential and Succeed in Life 2 7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience 3 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding 4 The Real Causes of Lack of Energy That Go Beyond Your Physical Health 5 If You Think You’re in an Unhappy Marriage, Remember These 5 Things

                    Read Next

                    Advertising
                    Advertising

                    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

                    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

                    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

                    When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

                    You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

                    1. Connecting them with each other

                    Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

                    Advertising

                    It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

                    2. Connect with their emotions

                    Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

                    For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

                    Advertising

                    3. Keep going back to the beginning

                    Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

                    On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

                    4. Link to your audience’s motivation

                    After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

                    Advertising

                    Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

                    5. Entertain them

                    While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

                    Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

                    Advertising

                    6. Appeal to loyalty

                    Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

                    In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

                    7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

                    Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

                    Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

                    Read Next