Top 10 Hardest Languages to Learn

The Top Ten
1 Arabic

I feel like the only difficult part of Arabic is the complex grammar. I can read Arabic and its alphabet/writing system is honestly probably the easiest part of the language.

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.

2 Chinese

I've spent countless years and thousands of hours completely dedicated to learning Mandarin Chinese. The people who don't think it's very hard are English speakers who have never attempted to learn a new language. With all my countless hours of practice, I literally can't even understand natives. If you think Chinese can't be that bad, take ten entire years out of your life to learn it, and you'll see it's much harder than you think it plus. Although the tones and grammar is logical and easy, the writing system is so tedious to learn (even with simplified characters) that it takes years to learn even a basic sentence, let alone write one. It takes forever to write a single character, and many characters have different things in common, but can have completely different pronunciations. Plus, the speaking can be very difficult because sometimes the meaning of the sentence depends on tones, plus there aren't many sounds that can be made in Chinese, so many words sound nearly identical, which makes not only learning the writing system extremely challenging to learn, but the speaking system, too. Learning one is hard enough, but learning both at the same time will take years out of your life. If you want to learn Chinese, go ahead. But be warned, because unless you are immersed in the language, it will take you years to master.

3 Japanese

Currently learning Japanese. Pronouncing the words themselves isn't that hard. But the writing's a killer. Hiragana isn't to bad. There are 46 basic symbols, and depending on the words you're writing, you sometimes add little symbols at the top or write a normal symbol but smaller next to a bigger symbol to change the pronunciation slightly. But once you try to learn Katakana, it gets so much harder. It's similar to Hiragana except many Katakana symbols look exactly like Hiragana symbols, but are pronounced completely differently. Plus you don't even know when to use Hiragana and when to use Katakana. And don't even get me started on kanji...

4 Mandarin

Too many characters in this language. Really hard to memorize. There are a lot of tones. It really takes a years to master it.

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.

5 Hungarian

Hungarians are considered the worst in foreign languages within the EU. This is primarily due to the fact that learning foreign languages for Hungarians is as challenging as it is for foreigners to learn Hungarian.

Please note that while Hungarian is widely regarded as one of the most difficult official languages in Europe, it is not the most difficult when compared to numerous isolated languages.

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).

6 Russian

Russian, unlike the other languages that are ranked hier in this list, has complicated grammer. No other language above has inflection as numerous as Russian, noun cases, verbs of motion etc. Russian also has gender to which all other words must change in the sentence like no other language above does. Definitely underrated!

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.

7 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.

8 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!

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.

10 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!

This is the language where the Romance languages came from. It is hard besides thqt there are accusative, genitive, ablative, dative forms and the plurals are really complex since it has 5 declensions.

The Contenders
11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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

15 Greek

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

Who learns this language? people just study the mythology. I only know how to say I love you

16 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.

17 Latvian

As a native speaker, Latvian is one of the most ridiculous languages ever with its massive list of grammar rules and sometimes just nonsensical reasoning behind why things are like this or that. Oh and don't forget the few words that have drastically different meanings or some kid is gonna make fun of you across the street. But otherwise, it's quite pretty for a language.

18 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!

19 Hindi

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

20 Basque

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

21 Hebrew
22 French

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!

23 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

24 Turkish

I'm also a native speaker who lives in Turkey. However sometimes my mind can be confused because of the Turkish words! I've learned how to speak English one year ago and it was really EASIER

Why are they bothered in Latin alphabet? It would have been better if it switched to Arabic script instead

25 Amharic

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

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