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Why Are These the Top 10 Hardest Languages in the World?

Why Are These the Top 10 Hardest Languages in the World?

Learning a language is the ultimate way to connect with an individual from another part of the world. An individual who can interact, even with just a reasonable amount of basic words and some phrases for good measure, has a one-up on an individual who see another’s mode of communication as simply gibberish. However, no two languages are alike when it comes to of ease of learning because ease of learning is subject to the learner’s native language. Languages in the same family tree as your mother tongue are easier to learn. Today, we will focus our attention on 10 of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn and why you may have such a hard time with them.

1. Arabic

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    Arabic is one of the hardest languages for native English speakers and is a language I have been learning for four years now. Along with having a completely foreign alphabet, both in script and direction of reading, individuals find difficulty with new speech patterns and sounds not found in English. When learning other Germanic languages there are similar vocabularies and cognates, but this doesn’t hold true for Arabic and English. Those who are able to get even a basic grasp of the alphabet must master the vowel markings that can drastically change the meaning of a word. Here’s the kicker: native speakers and most day-to-day text come without the markings.

    2. Japanese

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      Various Asian languages have a certain level of difficulty for native English speakers. Aside from the new text, they all have a special feature that differentiates their difficulty for a new speaker. In the case of Japanese, thousands of characters must be mastered to be able to adequately write the language correctly. This is because Japanese has three separate writing systems, all of which have a different alphabet to master. Aside from these drawbacks, it is a language that can open the learner to a culture that even has respect for elders expressed in its linguistic structures.

      3. Chinese

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        Chinese is a unique language in that it is one based heavily on grammatical structures and the tone of the speaker. In some languages novice speakers with a basic understanding of grammar can survive; however, with Chinese, a mixup in grammar can land you in an awkward situation of misunderstanding. Additionally, the writing system and the spoken system are separate entities, making reading and writing a separate issue to tackle from conversation.

        4. Korean

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          For starters, individuals introduced to Korean find that its sentence structure is rather foreign to them. If you are describing an action, the subject goes first, then the object that is being acted upon, and finally the sentence ends with the action itself. In terms of describing something, you begin with the subject and end with the adjective. Aside from sentence, speaking, and syntax pattern differences, novice learners of Korean have a hard time with the alphabet, which is heavily influenced by Chinese.

          5. Greek

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            While Greek is less difficult for native Anglophones than the top four languages we mentioned, there are still some aspects of the language that can prove a challenge to new speakers. The difficulties with the alphabet are a given challenge for some; however, what confuses many is the stresses required when speaking to ensure that the other individual understands what you are saying. Improperly placed stresses change the meaning of the word entirely.

            6. Icelandic

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              Icelandic makes this list, but not because of whether or not it is a difficult language to pick up. I must emphasize that it comes with some complexity, but for the most part it’s not unlike any other language in its challenges. The issue comes in mastering the language. Icelandic is complex in its spelling and word order practices, as perfectly illustrated in the photo above. Cognates are also few and far between. Lastly, as would be the case for any language with 330,000 speakers, resources are very few. This adds to the difficulty.

              7. Estonian

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                Estonian takes the seventh spot due to its complex language structure, which is an issue shared with many other countries in Europe that have their own language system. Many times, because the language is kept alive in the countries of their origin, grammar rules can sometimes be less formalized and cognates aren’t often present due to the lack of influence from other languages.

                8. Finnish

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                  Similarly to many European languages, Finnish is preserved within the country itself, influencing the language’s growth and mannerisms. Aside from this, for many individuals Finnish and Estonian can be described as close cousins in their speech and grammar patterns. Granted, while Finnish is a bit easier to pick up for new users as opposed to Estonian, the similarities are shown in language acquisition difficulty overall for both. As mentioned with Estonian, Finnish doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for learning the language. Thankfully, there are more speakers (five million) of Finnish than Estonian if you have your eye on acquiring it.

                  9. Thai

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                    Taking a short detour from European languages, we find ourselves in Thailand. Thai comes with medium difficulty to acquire in comparison to the top half of our list. Through researching Thai, I found that the main difficulties arose in speaking the language rather than anything else. Grammar rules are similar to English, but sounds and speaker’s tone are the most important and the most difficult things for new speakers to master. The alphabet, for those accustomed to the Latin alphabet, will cause some trouble as well.

                    10. Norwegian

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                      Finishing off our list back in Europe, we have Norwegian. Norwegian is last on our list for a reason. It’s a language that is easy to get a hang of in a classroom or formal setting. However, the fact that Norwegian is spoken mainly in Norway is the contributing factor to its ranking on this list. Why exactly? Because, spoken Norwegian is highly informal and much less organized when used amongst native speakers. Similar to Arabic, dialects reign and while most Norwegians understand each other, dialects can complicate communication.

                      Featured photo credit: Lifehack via cdn-media-1.lifehack.org

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                      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                      Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                      your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                        Why You Need a Vision

                        Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                        How to Create Your Life Vision

                        Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                        What Do You Want?

                        The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                        It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                        Some tips to guide you:

                        • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                        • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                        • Give yourself permission to dream.
                        • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                        • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                        Some questions to start your exploration:

                        • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                        • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                        • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                        • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                        • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                        • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                        • What qualities would you like to develop?
                        • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                        • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                        • What would you most like to accomplish?
                        • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                        It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                        What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                        Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                        A few prompts to get you started:

                        • What will you have accomplished already?
                        • How will you feel about yourself?
                        • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                        • What does your ideal day look like?
                        • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                        • What would you be doing?
                        • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                        • How are you dressed?
                        • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                        • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                        • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                        It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                        Plan Backwards

                        It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                        • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                        • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                        • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                        • What important actions would you have had to take?
                        • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                        • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                        • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                        • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                        • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                        Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                        It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                        Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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