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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.

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      • 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.

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          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.

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              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.

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                  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.

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                    Last Updated on October 9, 2018

                    27 Ways to Instantly Feel Better When You’re Down

                    27 Ways to Instantly Feel Better When You’re Down

                    Who has never gone through some ups and downs in the life? But some people can feel better in a quicker way than others because they’ve found their own remedies to heal the bad feelings.

                    If you haven’t found yours, these ways will help you instantly feel better and ditch that negative self talk when you’re feeling bad about yourself:

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                    1. Listen to the songs you loved when you were in high school or university, this will recall you of the old good times.
                    2. Write something. Write down how you feel as a way to express your thoughts if you don’t feel like talking to anyone.
                    3. Draw something. Draw anything you want because no one’s going to judge your drawing skills.
                    4. Read the postcards or letters your friends or family sent you before, remind yourself there are people who always remember you.
                    5. Silently think of a day or moment which you truly enjoyed and try to recapture that very first feeling. Was it the day of your graduation? The moment you traveled with your loved one?
                    6. Take out your photo albums and go over your childhood photos.
                    7. Cry when you feel like doing so. There’s nothing wrong with crying; cry out all your fear and stress and just face the truth after crying.
                    8. Sing loudly like no one can hear you. Do you know that in Japan, people always sing karaoke to relieve stress?
                    9. Cook a nice meal for yourself or for your family.
                    10. Read your previous diary entries and look at your great memories.
                    11. Dress up nicely to feel happier.
                    12. Don’t stay in your bed! Get your laptop or a book and sit in a coffee place.
                    13. Take a walk outside and feel the fresh air.
                    14. Sweat yourself! Go jogging or play some sports.
                    15. Pick up the musical instrument you used to play a lot and start to play it.
                    16. Tidy up your desk or wardrobe, you’ll feel good that you’re being productive and actually doing something.
                    17. Watch some funny videos, sure you can find a lot of them on Youtube.
                    18. Eat something you like, be it a chocolate cake, or an ice-cream. Just please yourself with the flavour you like.
                    19. Re-read your favorite book and write down the sentences or passages that you love.
                    20. Watch a new movie, there must be a movie which you’ve always interested in but had no time to watch it.
                    21. Do something nice that no one will notice, say picking up a rubbish in the street and throw it to a trash bin.
                    22. Call your best friend and just talk whatever you want! Human beings are social animals after all, connecting with people close to you will make you feel better.
                    23. Do voluntary work and help people in need, you’ll feel happy and satisfied.
                    24. Get drunk with your close friends at home – a safe place for you to get drunk and get crazy. Let loose and have fun with your very close friends.
                    25. Write an email or a note to a friend who you care about.
                    26. Get out of your routine life and meet new friends. Get out of your comfort zone! Meeting new people can give you new inspirations in life.
                    27. Look into the mirror and smile. Act like today’s already a wonderful day. How we act affects how we feel. It’s difficult to go on feeling sad if you’re trying to smile!

                    Remember:

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                    It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.  — Epictetus

                    If you want to feel better, change what you’re doing because obviously what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy!

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                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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