What are the hardest languages to learn?

languages
30 June 2021

Would you like to speak many languages, but find that learning them is difficult? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! You may want to learn one of the hardest languages in the world, or who knows, you may already be able to speak one of them! What are the hardest languages to learn? Let’s find out!

Korean or Japanese

1. Is Mandarin hard?

One of the most difficult languages ​​to learn is Mandarin. Mandarin is a difficult language to learn because it’s full of idioms, aphorisms and homophones. 

The first and most important  thing that makes Mandarin a difficult language to learn is the alphabet, which is completely different from the western, Latin alphabet. In addition to the usual challenges that come with learning any language from scratch, people who are studying Mandarin must also learn thousands of special characters. Mandarin Chinese, which is the most common dialect in China, has four tones, so one word can mean four different things depending on how it is be pronounced. For example, the Mandarin word ma can mean “mother,” “horse,” “rough” or “scold” — depending on the way you say it. So is Mandarin hard to learn? Yes, it’s quite tough. Is it the most complex language in the world? It may well be.

Korean or Japanese

2. Which is harder to learn – Korean or Japanese?

Korean is probably the strangest of all Asian languages. What makes it difficult to learn is that it does not appear to be related to any other language in any way – which also holds true for Japanese. Korean has a unique word order, complex grammar, its own alphabet and many more challenges. It’s completely unique as a language and unlike any other language that you may have ever learned.

Japanese is not the hardest language to learn. In fact it’s easier to learn than Korean or even Mandarin. What prevents it from counting as the most complicated language is that it has just 3 independent writing systems: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Each of them has its own alphabet, but once you’ve learnt them, you can speak Japanese perfectly!

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Polish language

3. Is Polish a hard language to learn?

Next on the list is of course Polish – one of the hardest languages to learn for English speakers. What makes Polish so difficult to learn is the fact that words in Polish are loaded with consonants, which makes them difficult to spell and pronounce. The next thing that makes Polish quite a difficult language is that it has 7 cases! One plus point at least is that Polish uses the Latin alphabet so you don’t have to  learn a new set of letters from the beginning.

Icelandic language

4. Is Icelandic hard to learn? 

How hard is it to learn Icelandic? It’s also one of the top 10 hardest languages to learn! Anyone who has ever traveled to Iceland completely understands why. Nowadays Icelandic is spoken by fewer than 400,000 people on one island where this language has remained virtually unchanged since the country was settled in the 9th and 10th centuries! What makes Icelandic one of the hardest languages to learn is that Icelanders make up new words for newly invented objects instead of adopting an English or French one. This means that you need to  be living in Iceland to learn Icelandic completely. 

Finnish language

5. How hard is it to learn Finnish?

Finnish may look easy but don’t be fooled! Except for Hungarian and Estonian, it does not share any common traits with any other European language and stems from the Uralic language family. But what makes Finnish one of the most difficult languages to learn is the fact that it has a lot of grammar to grasp and may have extremely long words – even if you just want to say a simple thing! What’s more, Finnish has several dialects – and there is also what you might call a mixture of Finnish and Swedish, spoken mostly in the Helsinki area. Finns are also known to be shy and quiet so you should be very careful when listening to them as you may miss a lot of what they actually try to communicate!

Arabic language

6. Is Arabic a hard language to learn?

Another of the hardest languages to learn in the world is Arabic. Just how difficult is it to learn Arabic? This language has a lot of  varieties based on  the region or country in which they’re spoken — they can be radically different depending on where in the Arab world you are! No matter the exact version, one of the complications of Arabic is that it is written from right to left! What makes Arabic an even more complicated language is that some of the sounds used don’t exist in other languages. The grammar is also a challenge; verbs tend to come before the subject, and you need to  learn a dual form of words in addition to the singular and plural forms.

 

Now that you know what the hardest languages to learn are, you can either challenge Yourself and try to learn them – or just use one of our voice translators!

In a nutshell:

Learning any new language is difficult, but some languages are harder to learn than others. Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Icelandic, Finnish, and Arabic are all considered to be among the most difficult languages to learn. Each language has its own challenges, from unique alphabets to complex grammar. Mandarin is considered to be one of the most difficult languages to learn because of the large number of characters in its alphabet and the fact that each word can have multiple meanings depending on its pronunciation. Korean is also difficult to learn because it has no relation to any other language, making it unique in both its alphabet and word order. Japanese is considered to be easier to learn than both Mandarin and Korean, but it still poses challenges for English speakers. One of the main difficulties of learning Japanese is that it has three different writing systems, each with its own alphabet. Finnish is also considered to be a difficult language to learn, due in part to its many grammar rules and long words. Arabic is another difficult language to learn, primarily because of its different dialects and the fact that it is written from right to left. Despite the challenges posed by each of these languages, they can all be learned with time and dedication.

FAQ:

What are the main difficulties associated with learning Mandarin?

The main difficulties associated with learning Mandarin are the alphabet, tones, and idioms.

What is it about Japanese that makes it harder to learn than some other languages?

The main difficulty with learning Japanese is that it has three writing systems.

What are some of the challenges associated with learning Polish?

The main difficulties associated with learning Polish are consonants, grammar, and spelling.

What makes Icelandic one of the hardest languages to learn?

The main difficulty with learning Icelandic is that Icelanders make up new words for newly invented objects instead of adopting an English or French one. This means that you need to be living in Iceland to learn Icelandic completely.

What are some of the challenges associated with learning Finnish?

The main difficulties associated with learning Finnish are grammar, long words, and dialects.

What are some of the challenges associated with learning Arabic?

The main difficulties associated with learning Arabic are grammar, verbs, and specific sounds.

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Radek Studnicki Author of Vasco US Blog

Radosław Studnicki

With passion for travel and languages, he thrives as the COO of Vasco. Radek is happy to guide the company's global expansion. His background focused on English-speaking regions, yet his heart belongs to Southern Europe and its languages. A lover of Mediterranean cuisine, Radek blends his professional expertise with personal passions.

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