Hardest Languages to Learn

The Top Ten

1 Arabic

I am currently learning arabic and my native language is chinese. Arabic is written from back to front, so its pretty difficult to write. It just depends on the person who is learning it.

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

Ok so I am half Chinese half kiwi, I grew up in new Zealand speaking English and Chinese. I don't think its that hard... it is actually fine and I speak like a native... and I write and read it

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

oh, and, do you know that you're meaning mandarin, not Chinese?
BECAUSE THERE ARE MORE THAN 40 kinds of language in CHINA and they pronounce NOTHING alike!
(at least they write the same)
but trust me, you'll never get how write traditional Chinese, you can't even get to know what is simplified and what is traditional
get to see Japanese a bit
you can't even tell the difference between them if you didn't learn chinese
There ain't even an ALPHABET
heew, sorry for what I just say, I just have to say, this is a must- top language
(no offence on what I just say)

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).

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 hard but when your learning it takes long to learn the langauge 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.

We have lots of onomatopoeia, counting styles according to different objects, Chinese characters even natives sometimes mess up, 2 alphabets with 50 letters each. If I had to learn it as a second language I would go insane.

4 Mandarin

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

Chinese does not exist. The real name is mandarin.

This is true. It is not Chinese, but Mandarin!

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

5 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).

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

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

I agree with it, my friens, but the most beautiful as well!

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. Ok, in the end I just can say German is easy and cool, polish is a little bit difficult beatiful and very usefull!

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.

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.

7 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 un English is red red but in Russian has red specififc colours, And do's specific colours has also words. That means that Russian have also really much words. Thanks if you read it all and understand 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.

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.

The pronunciation is changed depending on the word, though. Example: aim, agony, was, etc.
Now, combine that into 26 letters, plus the pronunciation for numbers. Then all sorts of words. I'm a native English speaker, but now that I think about it, it's hard to learn.

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.

If English isn't your first language, it can be extremely difficult to learn. Mostly because of the weird spelling quirks, like knife, or pterodactyl. Also, words such as there, their, and they're can be tricky for people learning the language.

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 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

Well, I agree, but I would still love to learn it! Just very cool sounding to me. But those symbols, the one that looks like a demented letter B, it says a sharp S... ß

All very hard to learn, though.

I agree! I am from Germany and even many people with German as native language have problems with German.

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.

But not as much as others

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 TopTens 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!

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

Yeah, and it's dead...

Quid nomen tibi est?

13 Korean

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

Nobody knows where does it came from, just understand one thing:

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

Korean is hard, but I heard it’s the easiest of the East Asian languages

14 Greek

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

Greek should be 2 Ancient Greek should be first

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.

I'll be learning Vietnamese as my third language. English is my native language and Español 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.

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.

Why is Vietnamese not higher?

16 Latvian

It's my native language, but yeah it's beautiful!


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.

The writing system is complex

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.

Ya it is hard!

This is easy!

20 Hebrew

Mi po gam yode-a ivrit?
Who also knows here Hebrew in Hebrew
I'm Israeli

I'm american and I speak english.but can read 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!

Cantonese is EASY I speak this all the time! (I'm Asian)

22 Albanian

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

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

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

23 French

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

I personally find it very easy, I can speak fluent French. I think people find French hard if they started it late but if you've been around a lot of French people it's actually very easy.

it's my native language and I can say that even if I'm 15, I still have a lot of difficulty understanding the grammar. we have so many time cases, words, grammar rules, its crazy. its VERY difficult.

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..

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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