Hardest Languages to Learn

The Top Ten
1 Arabic

I've been reading Arabic since I was around 5-6. Let me just say, it's not at all an easy language to learn. There are tons of different sounds, accent marks, and completely different letters.

I'm full Arabic and I have no family that doesn't speak Arabic and I really find it difficult. I'm labelled as an English first language student and everyone(my family) excepts me to be the greatest in Arabic. In fact, I can speak in my accent (informal Arabic) but I will never be able to speak formal Arabic with anyone, in any situation. I strongly agree in your opinion about the letters and their pronounciation and as someone who was being taught Arabic and is surrounded with people who speak Arabic since I was a young child, I still don't know how to pronounce some of them.

The thing no one realizes about Arabic that makes it harder than any other language is that EVERYTHING is backwards. Just look at an Arabic book, they read the other way than almost every other language. They also speak backwards. If I were to say "The green ball hit the wall when I saw it." In Arabic, that would be "I saw the wall when the green ball hit it." That might not be exact, but everything is reversed. On top of that, it has a new alphabet, different grammar, etc...

Arabic is hard but it's so stupid to say so because it's "backwards". It's a very old language so you can't say the writing is backwards just because it's the opposite to what you're used to. Arabic is hard for many other reasons. Grammar is so complicated that most Arabic speakers aren't aware of the accurate grammar rules. They speak modern Arabic (slang) in different accents, which is a lot easier than the mother Arabic language itself.

2 Chinese

I am a Singaporean with a Chinese heritage, but I still suck at it.
These are a few reasons why Chinese is so hard to learn:
It has no alphabet.
It's written form has no clues as to how it is actually pronounced.
There are many homophones; the same phonetic sound can have a completely different meaning depending on context.
All the words are only distinguishable by four tones, which only differ slightly in pitch and enunciation.
There are about 8000 characters.

So... There you have it

I will learn during 2 months to speak Chinese and during one year and a half I will live in Hong Kong and will have to speak Mandarin! Wish me Good Luck! It will be a real Challenge but at the end it will be really beneficial!

I am Chinese and learning Chinese is super HARD! Each word has a different symbol and you have to memorize each one. Also, some symbols are just slightly different so it's easy to mess up!

I'm impressed by people who can speak Chinese fluently. It's a very hard language, especially because there's so many characters

3 Japanese

2 Original scripts, both having 46 characters. Other than the Japanese R, there's no different pronunciation (from English anyway). No tones, but uses kanji to verify on word from the other. Speaking of kanji, there's over 1000 characters, with different parts to it. To top it off, you need to actually memorize the words and verbs. It's not said hard, just has lots of text to memorize.

This is actually the second language I studied (still trying to memorize words and kanji but got the alphabet down), though I didn't have much issue (probably because I'm young, the younger you are the more you can memorize).

Hiragana isn't that hard, but when you get to kanji it is quite hard. I have been trying to learn it for a while now, having multiple alphabets isn't very nice.

Japanese is actually not that hard. The pronunciation is all most the same as in English (like ka, ni or wa same as in English) except for the R it has a different sound (If you want to know how to do the R, you put your tongue on the top of your mouth like as an English D but move your slide tongue forward a little sounds like "the" but with out touching your teeth). But the writing is kind of hard, but when you're learning, it takes long to learn the language. It took me 6 years to learn Japanese and I am still learning some more words.

As an experienced linguist, I find Japanese the most difficult language. Although it only uses characters half the time, the two long alphabets aren't that better of an alternative. Grammar is very different compared to most other major languages. Honorifics, counters, yuck. At least it doesn't have tones.

4 Mandarin

When people talk about Chinese as a language they probably mean Mandarin, not Cantonese.

Mandarin isn't the only Chinese language. There's cantonese, too.

Chinese does not exist. The real name is mandarin.

Mandarin and Chinese are the same don't
Get stupid.

5 Russian

I am Russian and I go to Russian school because I live in Belgium. Well what can I say Russian has really MUCH grammar rules, and also like in English, it's red, but in Russian has red specific colours, and that specific colours has also words. That means that Russian have also really much words. Thanks if you read it all and understanding me.

Loads of grammar. Like even if you're a proper Russian, born there, went school etc. You still wouldn't know all the grammar rules. Plus it has its own Cyrillic alphabet which is complete different from Latin

It's hard because when I speak Russian, it's smells.

To be completely honest, Russian is really hard.

6 Polish

I am from Austria, but I can speak Polish, because my parents are from Poland. When I compare Polish and German, I have to say that Polish is really more difficult, but I love the moment when my friends try to read a polish sentence and that sounds so funny. Also, it sounds so beautiful when you know how to pronounce everything. AND when you can speak Polish, you understand more languages, than when you speak German. Okay, in the end I can just say that German is easy and cool, Polish is a little bit difficult beautiful and very useful!

Polish isn't THAT hard.
The cases have a lot of rules, but few exceptions, there's only 6 (The 7th is starting to disappear) anyways!
Unlike Spanish, French or English, we only have 3 tenses (and 2 aspects. )
Unlike Danish, French or English, spelling is obvious and phonetic.
Plus we have a lot more Latin/French/English loanwords then most people think.

Polish is really easy to speak, once you have gotten the hang of it. But when I was a 1st time polish speaker, I couldn't understand the writing to it. Everything looked like random letters since English speakers usually have vowels between certain letters that the polish language doesn't.

It's just the words I couldn't pronounce. The words are very hard and confusing and it takes my a while to read it perfectly. Overall, this is a beautiful language.

7 Hungarian

As an English speaker, this language defies everything that makes sense to me. There are so many noun cases, it's difficult to learn to pronounce, sentence structures seem to have a mind of their own (at least as far as I can tell as a beginner).

Yeah, hungarian is definitely the most awkward language to study.

Hungarians are the worst in foreign languages in the EU, and it's because for a Hungarian to learn foreign languages is about as hard as to learn Hungarian for a foreigner

Disclaimer: while probably being one of the most difficult official languages in Europe, it's nowhere near the most difficult counting the countless isolated languages

8 Finnish

I really want to learn Finnish. My family tells me there is no use because almost no one speaks Finnish, and the ones that do speak English as well. Finnish is very hard, however. I can sing a couple songs in Finnish but only because I've listened to them so many times. The songs are called Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan, (Death Makes an Artist), Taikatalvi, (Enchanted Winter), and Eramaan Viimeinen, (The Last of the Wilds). All come from the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish.

Finland is totally beautiful and has much better climates than more southern. It is really cold but hot in the summer. I wish to move to Helskini. Though this language named Finnish that they speak their is freakingly hard and way advanced.

They counted 2253 different word-forms for the word shop, "kauppa". Pretty much every other word in this language has the same amount of different forms. Fun!

Some words can have over 100 meanings.

9 English

Even though English is my native language, I'm looking at it from more of an objective standpoint, as in general complexity. The thing about English is that it's one of the simplest to get into and understand the basics, but the more you learn, the harder it gets. With most languages, once you get the ball rolling and understand the concepts, they get easier, with English it's the opposite. The more you learn, the more you realize how many exceptions there are to literally everything and how complex the language can really get.

I'm a native Chinese speaker. If you want to see how hard Chinese is, give it a try. When I came to America, English was SO much easier than Chinese. You people out there should realize how easy English is compared to other languages. First off, English doesn't have characters unlike most languages. Next of all, it's a lot easier to pronounce, there are NO accents unlike most Asian languages. I believe that if you truly believe that English is hard, try Chinese or Arabic, you will see a HUGE difference.

What many don't realize is there are literally 50 words to describe 1 thing. English may be easy to english speaking countries as we learned from a young age, but I have so many people from other corners of the world find english very difficult.

Agree. I speak English and it is actually easy to make a mistake in English. For example, I may ask someone to write the word information and someone may spell it imfurmaishun. The phonemes are a little annoying. The tion in words actually make the sh sound. But I'd put it at #6 or #7. I have made a hard language list too and I put English at #6.

10 German

I've just voted here to be able to comment. So I just want to mention that in other threads with the same question many say, that german is hard for english natives. It could be, because words differ a lot at first. But when an english native gets the hang of the language, he ist mostly able to speak with almost no accent. For me as a native german it is much harder to accomplish this in english, than for an english native with german. English has more words in common with latin language, but the grammar is more german and every english person should be interested, in their ancestor linguistic roots and the closest is german.

I'm learning german right now, and it may not be as hard as other languages because it's very straightforward, but it can be difficult, but it's probably harder for me than it is for other people because I know a lot of Spanish, and Spanish is really simple compared to German.

Honestly, it's not all that hard. I've learned a few basic words, and it's quite easy. The accent is a bit difficult for me, but I'm catching onto it. Other than that, it's easy!

I don't know why this is in the top ten. I mean I'm from Austria and this is really not so difficult. It sounds really cool, so you should learn, it trust me, compared to other languages it can be easy, when you have the motivation to learn it :D

The Contenders
11 Icelandic

I find Icelandic a very interesting language, as it rejects loanwords from other languages and that people who speak it can understand Old Norse and Old Icelandic(?).

That being said, the archaic grammar make this 50x more difficult.

In my college, as soon as it was heard by many that it was hard, a LOT of people decided to take it.

I would L O V E to learn it.

12 Latin

To be honest, Latin is a pretty logical language. English is actually ten times more illogical than Latin ever will be, it's just the fact a lot of us on TheTopTens grew up learning it so we see English as "logical". I'm not even sure why it's a dead language, but whatever.

Sorry if that didn't make any sense at all!

Lack of resources make the language hard, although it depends on your determination.

If you know the suffixes and such then you are on a good way. Still more alive than Inari.

Yeah, and it's dead...

13 Korean

Korean is easier though.

If you want to say boy friend you get the Korean symbol for boy, symbol for friend and mash it up together.

How is French and German harder than Korean? I tried learning it once and the pronunciations and letters are too difficult

I'm trying to learn Korean but the person saying it on google says the words to fast so I can't really learn it, and there is a lot of words that becomes confusing for me

I'm a half korean. I think Korean grammar is too complexible and it has too many irregular form

14 Greek

It is very difficult and people who think that they can speak, they just think...

Not very hard. I can speak it and I am 14.

Greek should be 1

15 Vietnamese

The tones is what's hard because, unlike Chinese where they have tone character symbols alone and Chinese has a total of 5 tone characters, Vietnamese has 6 and what even weirder is that, this has a tone mark on top of another accent witch is very confusing and difficult to pronounce with that letter.

Vietnamese is hard this should be number 2, because there is a lot accents, they even have two different accent on one letter, and it is very tricky to pronounce it, even spelling it in the Vietnamese languages is hard. Too hard.

Vietnamese is pretty hard. I mean, most of the words have more than one meaning at different pitches. Luckily they use the same alphabet as English.

I'll be learning Vietnamese as my third language. English is my native language and EspaƱol is my second. My only input is that all language difficulty depends on how much you really WANT to learn it... and WILLING to put the time into learning it.

16 Latvian
17 Thai

The script is super hard. There are so many consonant and vowel repeats and you have to remember how to use each.
The pronunciation of the tones and the vowel length is just very hard as it requires a unique pitch.
The grammar may be simple but it is extremely irregular.
The sentence structure changes a lot in each topic.
I'm Thai and I think this is a very hard language.
It is near impossible to master unless Thai is your first language.

I have really experienced the Thai language. It has hard script and romanization.

Many varieties of tones and extremely difficult to read.

18 Basque

Basque is the only European language not related to another language. It's phukkin hard

19 Hindi

I haven't tried to learn Hindi, but it seems pretty hard.

20 Hebrew
21 Cantonese

There is literally no way it can be down at 54 at the time of writing. This language is kinda like Chinese except... they added an additional 5 tones, more characters, and what's written doesn't even match what's said sometimes.

Cantonese is even more difficult then Mandarin Chinese since it has 9 tones instead of 4, and in Cantonese the written word may not match what is said.

I'm a Chinese and I didn't know how to read it and write it in traditional yet!

22 Albanian

Never heard of It before, usually mainly unknown languages are harder, and according to the first page, it is easier than English.

Albanian is way harder than most of these languages probably top 15

This language should be top 5
It's bizarre grammar should be taken seriously

23 French

French maybe poetic or romantic but it is quite hard for the first two years of your learning. I found it an easy ride afterwards. I am a south-Asian, so I had trouble with the accent. Grammer and all those rules, I never had trouble with that but four-fifths of my class did; so I guess that is tough too. Merci!

I am Canadian with Japanese origins, I really enjoyed for having learned French. Yes, it's a difficult language to start learning but once you speak a bit you always progress. I don't really know if I have any accent but when I've been in Paris anyone was kind with me, French people adore when you speak their own language and the do love accents. And now in Montreal, I fell in love with a so pretty and charming French girl.

I know French is for sure not the hardest, but it's spelling and pronunciation is very demanding. I just want to say that it is the hardest romance language, and the the majority of the words you say have loads of silent letters and stuff. However French doesn't COMPARE to Arabic!

This definitely isn't the hardest language to learn, but I've been learning French my whole life and I still have a hard time understanding what people are saying when they speak French. Also the grammar and conjugation is hard. When do I use passe compose or imparfait when I'm speaking in past tense? How does subjonctif work? I'm so confused

24 Amharic

Amharic is kind of similar to Arabic but it's still baffling to learn.

25 Portuguese

The verbs in Portuguese are actually harder (at least in my version, the European Portuguese) than any other Romance Language.

Have a double level of difficulty if compared with spanish.

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