What Are The Hardest Languages To Learn? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Learning a new language can be difficult, but some languages can be trickier than others. For native English speakers, the difficulty level of a new language depends on a variety of factors. So which are the most difficult to learn? And which languages would you be able to master in under a year? View the infographic below to learn more.

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Hardest_Languages_02 (1)


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Use This Infographic In Your Class

We think that infographics are an awesome learning and teaching tool, so our creations will always be available for you to print out, use with your students and embed on your blog!

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Warm-Up Activity

Before handing out the infographic, discuss the following questions with your students: Are some languages harder to learn than others? In your opinion, which ones are the most difficult to pick up?

Speaking & Critical Thinking Practice

Questions to ask your students after presenting the infographic:

  1. What is the most surprising fact that you discovered from this infographic?
  2. As the graphic describes, successful language learning depends on a variety of factors. Which of these have you found to be the most important for your own language learning? Can you think of any others to add to the list?
  3. Do you agree with the FSI’s language difficulty scale? If not, what would you change?
  4. The Foreign Service Institute’s language difficulty rankings reflect learning expectations for native English speakers only. How do you think these rankings would change for language learners with different L1s?
  5. High school and university students who are required to study a foreign language often choose the language that seems “easiest”. What arguments could you present to such students to encourage them to study a “harder” language like Arabic or Chinese?

Writing Challenge

After reviewing this infographic with your students, have them write a an essay or blog post on the topic below. In addition to using the information from the infographic, students can do independent research using the sources provided at the bottom of the graphic.

Describe your own language learning experiences. What languages have you studied, and how easy or difficult have they been to master? In your opinion, what makes them so easy or hard? Support your answer with specific examples of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciations, etc. that have either given you trouble or been a breeze to learn.

234 thoughts on “What Are The Hardest Languages To Learn? [INFOGRAPHIC]

          • Carlos says:

            I’ve seen some romaji letters in some songs and ads, but each letter takes the space of a kanji, and the words are pronounced as they would be in Katakana. So it’s just a fancier way to write foreign words.

          • gaylard says:

            They use it all the time. It’s quite common to write write words in Romanji for aesthetic reasons on products and business cards.

          • Vash says:

            I would classify Romaji as a fourth writing system. First, they teach it first in Elementary School 3rd grade (at least where I live) as its own script and then later again in 5th grade as a part of the foreign language curriculum, and again in Junior High when learning how to write their names in English. It’s taught multiple times because there are actually 3 different versions with slightly different spelling rules:

            Eg: Name: しょうた can be written as Shouta/Shota/Syouta depending on which system you use. Romaji and Katakana are strongly related, BUT they’re not the same in my opinion. For example, they use Romaji on signage for things like names of places in Japan (e.g. Kyoto) which you would almost never see written in Katakana. Conversely, foreign country names are almost always written in Katakana for languages that don’t have kanji, from what I’ve seen.

            Lastly, Japanese elementary students learn the third version (which is the farthest from English: e.g. Syouta) first and it is the most natural form of romaji for Japanese people to read and write in. They learn the second version (Shota) in Jr. High. The third version is the most natural way to transliterate Japanese sounds into the English alphabet, so it tends to be the romaji English speakers prefer in my experience. Or at least I prefer it, when I use romaji.

            Before I came to Japan, I didn’t think of romaji as a Japanese script, but now that I’ve been here a couple of years, I really think it is. This is just one opinion though, so take it as you will.

    • matthk says:

      German isn’t hard to learn (compared to most). Not for English speakers anyway, as ours is a germanic language to begin with. Even as a kid, I could understand some of the German I’d hear on movies without ever having had a lesson or known any Germans. “Was is das” for ‘what is that’ and “Bringen sie es hier” for ‘bring it here’ are just a couple of examples of how similar German is to English.

    • AnaMaria says:

      “Never knew before what eternity was made for. It is to give some of us a chance to learn German.” Mark Twain.

      that´s why :D

    • Danielle Krammel says:

      I totally agree! Where the heck in German??? I am married to a German and live in Japan. I speak Japanese at an advanced level and found German WAY, WAY, WAY harder than Japanese ever was. The grammar is a freaking nightmare!!!!

  1. Roger says:

    Cool chart. I also noticed German isn’t on there. I suppose it would be under easy since it uses a latin-based alphabet and isn’t too far off from Dutch. Either way, I’ve had a helluva time with it. I’m going to embed this in my blog…

  2. Krueger John says:

    This seems quite simplified. More detail would have been good. The range on the Medium category is way too broad. There must be a huge difference between Greek and Finnish for example.

  3. Bao says:

    The next time use wikipedia. Goole translator gave you the adjectives meaning “from country xxx”. It hurts to look at.

    • Anonymous says:

      As in, how hard is it for learners of other languages to learn English .. especially if it’s not the same as above (i.e. much easier for Spanish speakers to learn English than for Japanese ones?)

      • Cindy says:

        As someone who learned English as a second language, I’d probably put it in the easy level… even if it took me years to learn it :p And even if I still make silly mistakes :p Frankly, I guess it’s easier for me to learn English than it is for someone who speaks English to learn Portuguese…

      • Galondon7 says:

        Learn a foreign lenguaje is difficult for all, except to learn esperanto the international language. The grammar has only 16 rules. You can learn in the web. Go to lernu.net

  4. Mariële says:

    Great chart, but I one thing.. Same for Dutch as Xiphiase said about Finnish, Nederlandse is a woman with the Dutch nationality, Nederlands is the language on its own. Lose the “e”!

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Korean” should be “한국어,” not “한국어의.” What you have (한국어의) means “of the Korean language” and is a glaring error to anyone who speaks Korean. Others have pointed out similar errors for other languages. You should remake the chart. Someone’s suggestion of checking against Wikipedia for the names of the languages was an excellent idea. You can’t trust automatic translators 100%. They give you a general idea but include a lot of mistakes and awkward phrasing.

    • iirreennee says:

      Yeah, i noticed that too. I don’t think it should be in the hard category, i’m an English speaker and i learned how to read Korean in 2 days.

      • Mark says:

        It may have taken you two days to understand the sounds of hangeul (the Korean alphabet), but it will take you a lot longer to actually learn the language. Also, the graphic is wrong. Although hangeul replaced the use of Chinese characters on the Korean peninsula long ago, being able to write and understand Korean requires no knowledge of Chinese characters.

  6. Joep Lijnen says:

    Please correct the incorrect words used for referring to the language for: Dutch,Norwegian,Finnish,Polish…vietnamese? Am I insane? Or do I know all of these things to be wrongly represented here? :( I am certain about the Dutch one.

    I feel ashamed to have visited this page… I cannot imagine the amount of shame I would feel being the author of this.

  7. voxy says:

    Thank you all for your feedback. We’re glad that you caught our mistakes – if anything, it means that you’re taking the time to read our posts! We’re happy to report that we have finally updated the infographic with the correct language names. Happy reading!

  8. Adriana del Moral says:

    Too optimistic!! I know lots of English native speakers whom, after more than six months living and studying in Italy, Spain or Mexico are not still proficient on Italian or Spanish, and they’re not even able to hold an average conversation on those languages…

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s because they haven’t really tried hard. My friend’s French is already at a decent level after three months of living in France. It’s all about motivation.

  9. Adriana del Moral says:

    Too optimistic!! I know lots of English native speakers whom, after more than six months living and studying in Italy, Spain or Mexico are not still proficient on Italian or Spanish, and they’re not even able to hold an average conversation on those languages…

    • Ade says:

      I can tell you that italians cannot pronounce good the english language(I’m living in Italy,I’m romanian).They have not some sounds presents in english language

  10. mehori says:

    「話す日本語?」at the top should be「日本語話す?」
    But your ordinary Japanese will probably ask you「日本語できる?」or to put it more politely「日本語できますか?」.
    Yes, it’s difficult ;-)

    • JA8119 says:

      No,not such”difficult” but DIFFICULT!It’s really really a great pain for me!I suffer a lot from this,even the “hardest” Chinese does not:Why there are Chinese characters exist and why each of them has 2 different pronounciation?Why adjs also have different forms?Why I always only get a predicate that I cannot understand what’s going on?And why,the verbs…just horrible…Japelish too…And I wonder why I have to pay such attention on making sentences “politely”?Any differences?Basiclly,in my opinion,it even doesn’t make scene in English anyway…GOSH,really bother me a lot

  11. Zoomer says:

    I don’t think this graphic gives the full story. For example, Japanese is one of the easier languages to learn in regards to speaking and listening. However, one of the more difficult to learn to read and write.

  12. Murilo says:

    178 million portuguese native speakers? Definetely wrong? Population of Brazil: 190 millions. Pop. of Angola: 19 millions. Pop. of Portugal: 10,6 millions. Plus, Moçambique, Cabo Verde and a few more others.

  13. Edvard says:

    Nothing is written about Hungarian, which is supposed to be a difficult language for English-speakers to learn.

  14. Dffs says:

    I am a Romanian native speaker and I tell you, our grammar is very hard comparing to English. Romanian is not an easy language, trust me.

    • Ade says:

      I’m a romanian and I can tell that for us it’s easier to learn more languages ,as english that has a few grammar comparing to romanian language.

    • anonymous says:

      I am a native Romanian speaker who lives in the UK and I think that english is quiet easy, along with spanish french and italian. Dont forget we have the base of the latin language. Thats why it is easy to speak it. In the uk which is england now, 10,000 years ago b4 vikings and anglo saxons, came people from eastern europe which is now Romania, Bulgaria Greece

  15. BarbaraDBB says:

    Complete or not complete chart. Accurate more or less. :-) But at least it got us thinking, talking and researching this interesting subject. Thank you VOXY for your effort and teasing our brains ;-) My 1 language was Polish, then years of studying Russian, then half a lifetime (continued…) in English speaking country, not to mention a bit of exposure to German (1.5 years in Germany) and Italian, Dutch and Chinese – because my work… The more languages you know, the easier the next comes :-)

    • voxy says:

      Thanks for reading, Barbara! There will never be a consensus on language difficulty rankings, so the best we could do was pull existing data from the FSI. As you pointed out, our goal was to get everyone thinking about and discussing this topic. Based on the number of comments on this post, we think it’s safe to say: “Mission: accomplished!”

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Super interesting graphic. Very cool actually. I had heard this sort of breakdown in the past, but your graphic really brings it to life and I like the classroom hours and weeks numbers as well. Of course, what is language proficiency?

  18. Erinah says:

    Sorry to ruin the party, but I don’t like this “infographic”, you could have done it much better.

    e.g. why putting there the country maps (“no comparatively scaled”), it has no relevance to the purpose of the graphic. No added value, but diffuse focus.
    Practically only the section headers contain relevant, infographical content, all the other is just some colorful thingie with numbers and words thrown together.

    • voxy says:

      Hi Erinah,

      Sorry for the confusion! When the FSI compiled its language learning expectations for native English speakers, they specifically looked at the length of time that it takes to achieve Level 3 proficiency: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3) and General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3). Hope this answers your question!

  19. Simpson_Jr says:

    Apparently 5 million people were counted twice in the Netherlands.
    In Vietnam the researcher forgot to count 18 million.
    In Spain every citizen was counted 7.15 times.
    In South Africa only one in ten was counted…
    In Thailand only one in three was counted.
    In Portugal every citizen was counted 17 times !!!!!!!
    In India only in 6.6 people were counted !!!!!!
    I’m stopping my search here, it’s obvious this article lacks the needed scientific approach to be taken serious.

    • Paul says:

      A lot of people speak Dutch in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.
      Not everybody speak Vietnamese in Vietnam
      A lot of people speak Spanish outside Spain. (Mexico, South America)
      There a lot of dialect and a lot of people speak english in South Africa
      People in Brasil speak Portuguese
      There many indian language and many people in India have english has a first language.

      The number = number of Speaker, not the country population…

      You should check you scientific approach!

  20. g1g2g3 says:

    the data here is erroneous and not well researched…Hindi is spoken by atleast a billion people in India…This would be a correct learning curve for someone whose first language is English…A person whose mother tongue is Chinese will find it easier to learn Japanese than English…

  21. Mona says:

    Really surprised that you did not think German was important to include somewhere. It is spoken by many more people than Dutch, and should have been included. That saying, it is a fairly simple language to learn, just slightly harder than Spanish.

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  23. Drax says:

    This is way off. How can anyone claim Vietnamese and Thai are easier for native English speakers than Chinese and Japanese? From first-hand experience I can say this is ridiculous.

  24. Mkatch says:

    Chinese is actually easier for Westerners to learn to speak, whereas Finnish is very difficult because the complex grammatical structures take longer to adapt to. This seems terribly specious. Also, I’m a bit curious what counts as “proficiency.”

  25. Momlet says:

     And you’ve heard what they call people who speak more than one language as bilingual or multilingual.  You know what they call people who only speak one language?  Americans

    • Ade says:

       there are more than americans…for example,Western European people think it’s enough to know their own language,just because these are spoken by many people all around the world..

  26. Max says:

    Dutch one of the easy languages to learn? The grammar is so hard, there so many foreigners living in Holland for 40 years and are still far from fluent :) Both in writing and orally, Dutch is really hard.

  27. Anonymous says:

    2 things: 1) Where’s English? 2)languages are easy as pie to learn for native speakers. So NO language is intrinsically more difficult to learn than any other. After that there are many factors which mitigate the 5 you list, AGE being the most important. Others include relation of native language to target language, and reason for learning the target language.

    • voxy says:

      This graphic gives a “look at which languages are easiest and most difficult for [native] English speakers to pick up.” Age is, of course, an extremely important factor. Thanks for bringing that up!

  28. Fatima Bagirova says:

    The time it takes to learn a language depends on a number of factors… – indisputably! However, if you look closer, you’ll see that in order to achieve language proficiency in Russian an English speaking person (and vice versa as I understood) needs only 44 weeks – HA-HA-HA :)) Yeh, 44 weeks of day-and-night studying and cramming,drilling and practicing, and … And if you take a sober view of things and divide 1,110 class hours into 4 (the usual number of class hours per week we spend to learn a foreign language), you’ll have 277,5 weeks (or 5 years) – That’s more feasible… but less motivating ;D

  29. Fatima Bagirova says:

    The time it takes to learn a language depends on a number of factors… – indisputably! However, if you look closer, you’ll see that in order to achieve language proficiency in Russian an English speaking person (and vice versa as I understood) needs only 44 weeks – HA-HA-HA :)) Yeh, 44 weeks of day-and-night studying and cramming,drilling and practicing, and … And if you take a sober view of things and divide 1,110 class hours into 4 (the usual number of class hours per week we spend to learn a foreign language), you’ll have 277,5 weeks (or 5 years) – That’s more feasible… but less motivating ;D

  30. Doreen Park says:

    Written Korean doesn’t rely on Chinese letters!!! It’s Japanese that actually uses Chinese in their written language as well as their own writing system. Koreans use all their own characters Hangeul, a lot of which has meanings derived from Chinese language, but it doesn’t rely on their letters!

    • Chen Yun-ming says:

      In the year 1446, King Sejong created the Hangul.
      The first paragraph reveals the motivation for creating the Hangul:
      (classical Chinese script, which I’m glad to say totally made sense to me, a person of the 21st century)
      故愚民 有所欲言

      Below is the English translation:
      “Because the speech of this country is different from that of China, it [the spoken language] does not match the [Chinese] letters. Therefore, even if the ignorant want to communicate, many of them in the end cannot state their concerns. Saddened by this, I have [had] 28 letters newly made. It is my wish that all the people may easily learn these letters and that [they] be convenient for daily use.”

      • Chen Yun-ming says:

        Oh forgot to add the formal name of the document creating the script is called “Hunminjeongeum” (훈민정음) (训民正音) (The Correct/Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People)

  31. Tricia Hurd says:

    As a couple of other people have said…I think it might make more sense to lower the number of class hours/week that is assumed. I’ve been taking 30 class hours/week of Arabic, and with the homework that’s assigned it’s around 50-60 hours/week…I don’t think that’s practical for most people (not to mention you get pretty burned out).

  32. clark welders says:

    These days it is completely distinct to be able to united states and i believe many people are planning to recognize in your publishing and there’s no option to forget about the application in the event he knows little bit regarding it.

  33. ieva balgalvis caruso says:

    I personally think that ability to learn a language has nothing to do with “easy”, “medium”, or “difficult”. It has to do with how one’s brain / thought process works, and the desire to learn a particular language.

  34. Phil says:

    This would be fantastic if it were true – 23/24 weeks to become proficient in a language…? For anyone who has actually learnt a language they will tell you that is insane.

    It’s always good to check the source and I note this comes from the US State Department from that bastion of language learners the US of A!

    Enough of language, eat ham from Hamazing.com!!

  35. Christopher says:

    I have found cetain languages to be rather easy japanese being one as well as spanish and the other romance languages. People may freak out at the sight of a kanji but in Japanese the reality is you only really have to remember 1000 kanji to ultimately be proficient enough to read a news paper. However the harder part is the fact that Japanese has three writing systems. But even though it sounds scary the “alphabet” if you will is not too crazy and once you have them down then everything becomes a lot easier. In addition to that Japanese is extremely easy to pronounce as long as you don’t let you english pronounciation spill out. Next chinese yet another scary language especially for westerners. Chinese has a bit of a trade off. Chinese (Mandarin) has a very simple grammatical structure so much so that you don’t have to conjugate those pesky characters. However it is hard because not only do you have to memorize 10,000 pictures but the tonal language is extremely difficult for English speakers because of the fact that they can’t pronounce other foreign sounds well in addition to the way you say that sound that you can hardly say also must be said in a certain tone in order for it to make sense is a donting task for really anybody. Lastly, the romance languages, some of the most elegant and beautiful of all, at least I think so are rather straight forward and if you speak English will have some cognates that you can depend on. The biggest challenge of these languages are the complex conjugating and might I add the ridiculous amount of tenses. What I mean is that there is not present, past, and future but there is also the bloody imperfect tenses which show up when you think you know how to say something. But, the plus side is the grammatical structure isn’t crazy and not too different fom English and basically if you know one you know them all. Be cafeful with this statement because the reality is that for example if you know Spanish you can probably understand Italian and Portugese and maybe not undertand spoken French but probably can read it with not too much difficulty. There you have it the profiles of the variious languages I have studied. Please any email me with comments.

  36. Puneet Gupta says:

    Hello there,

    I am learning Spanish now and wish to learn more languages.
    I am an Indian.

    Can i go for Arabic after spanish,,?

  37. matthk says:

    Ah the irony!
    OK, I can forgive most errors of grammar, but to BEGIN an infographic about language with one of the clumsiest grammatical goofs is just too funny.
    It’s not “What Are The Hardest Languages To Learn?” but
    WHICH Are The Hardest Languages To Learn?”

    • Jakub says:

      Both very similar to Polish, so shouldn’t be too much harder or easier. Slovak is probably the more similar one, almost like a dialect. I know because Polish is my first language, and can understand Slovak a good amount, Czech not as much, but if I listen of see enough, I can probably get the point.

      • Alie says:

        Well, I am from Slovakia, and I must say, Its very difficult language to learn, because there are many grammar exceptions. I read, there are 450000 grammar exceptions

  38. lesley says:

    Im dutch but i learned a bit korean, chinese and japanese are very easy to speak, prenouncing is very easy. I think german and french are way harder! i mean german has the naamvallen? and french is a whole other language if you write it. Japanese is even easyer then dutch. i hate the dutch language it stupid and it has rules where nobody cares about. i mean werkte or werkde i hear no difference. wish i was english or japanese

  39. Mr. Deng says:

    I’m surprised it hasn’t been pointed out yet but there really is no such language as Chinese. In China most people speak Mandarin. Others speak Min, Wu, Cantonese and a few others.

  40. a brazilian says:

    Brazil’s population alone is 192 million… so how do you say the total of Portuguese speaking people in the world is 178 million? It’s certainly over 200.

  41. DLI Guy says:

    This chart is based completely on FSI standards. This is how they train you to speak a foreign language if you are DoS or DoD. You get sent to the Defense Language Institute, and you spend 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week learning this stuff for the period prescribed. Its like going to high school, but all you study is the language. The FSI classes out language into groups. You all see Category I, III, and IV languages. Most of the languages that are missing are categorized as Category II, which is approximately 32 weeks.

    When I took Korean, it was 63 weeks, and I ended up with a 3/3/2 R/L/S.

  42. Fahed says:

    I want to learn german, I come here and I dont find the german language listed? why the hell a language like german wouldnt be listed? if some1 truely knows where it should be “medium or easy” please say!!! because im pretty sure its not hard

  43. Yabanci says:

    Turkish is different, but it is very logical and regular. It is very analytical. Once one grasps the logic that Turkish is all about, then learning Turkish would not only be easy, but it would also be a lot of fun. Many people take our Turkish classes in NYC just because of this difference and the fun structure of Turkish.

  44. haha says:


  45. Ronaldo says:

    Too bad Esperanto isn’t listed. 150 hours or 6 weeks was too embarrassing perhaps ;-) ?

    and how about basque? Is it really among the hardest?

      • MrSwede says:

        *Svenska är mitt andra språk, det är lätt.

        Id say swedish is relatively easy, being a germanic language. What gets most people though are our staggering amount of exceptions in grammar.

  46. gaylard says:

    The blurb about korean is inaccurate. It hardly uses Chinese characters anymore. Instead, the written system is called Hangul. It may look like chinese writing to those that can’t read it, but it’s much, much simpler. It only really takes a few days to learn how to read/write korean.

    • Xandie ♥ says:

      Absolutely correct.
      I learned Hangul in very little time, and reading it has become as easy as reciting my ABC’s.
      It may have been produced from Chinese lettering, but like you said, they hardly use any of those symbols anymore. It’s called Hangul and I agree; at first it looks like Chinese, but really, it differs in ways unimaginable, really.

  47. Rosemary Lyndall Wemm says:

    I found French very hard because of the lack of sound to letter consistency.
    I found German much easier, in spite of the more complex grammar.
    I found Indonesian very easy and reached basic day to day proficiency in this language (lived in the country for a while). It helped that few of the words sounded or looked like English and that cognates were usually pronounced in unique ways that made it difficult to think of them as anything but ” foreign language” words. I rarely confused them.
    I am finding Spanish quite hard. The grammar is complex and overloads my aging memory. I have difficulty figuring out if an english-spanish cognate is real or just imagined. That is, I fail to identify the similar words as “spanish”. Now this is exactly the opposite of what the above chart and many spanish language schools claim. Besides, I find that my brain frequently confuses the Indonesian word with the Spanish word of the same meaning, but I never confuse the grammar and idiomatic expressions. In cases of production stress (common for me) I insert an Indonesian word without realizing that this is what I have done. Worse, I cannot think of the Spanish word because the Indonesian one blocks it out.

  48. Sidewayson says:

    Very nice and straightforward comparison, which I’d agree with as far as my language knowledge goes. German should be there in the easy though. I’d say spoken Japanese is also tricky because – unlike Chinese – it’s expressed in a very different order (often backwards) compared to English – ‘food delicious is’ etc.

  49. 육개장 says:

    한국어 무진장 어려워요 젠장
    As a native speaker, Korean language is really head to learn. Although you don’t need to study chinese characters, what really matters is the grammar. really, really complicated. even more than the rest east asian language…

    • Xandie ♥ says:

      Really? O: Like my comment said, I’m a native English speaker but I’m finding Korean immensely easy to learn. The grammar and sentence structure is probably the easiest part, in my opinion.
      But as you are a native Korean speaker, I’ll have to trust you on the difficulty. It’s really surprising you say that it’s hard o:

  50. Andreas says:

    This chart is utter non-sense. Well of course it depends who is learning it, but just because english is related to french and romanian is a latin language. It won’t make it easier to learn it. Dutch might be easier than swedish, why this is all in easy is beyond me. Then they list Finnish as medium, which is proven to be almost impossible to learn, unless you are Estonian and born there. Well my point is, charts like that are pretty much useless.

  51. Xandie ♥ says:

    I am currently learning Korean, a native English speaker, and it isn’t hard at all. Keep in mind I am still fairly young, but the language is not hard to learn whatsoever if you really try to comprehend it and have a good website/teacher.
    I’ve learned Hangul in under a week, and I learned how to introduce myself in just over 2 days. When you really try, Korean isn’t hard at all.
    Maybe it depends on the person, and how hard you try, but it’s a relatively easy language.

    • Hyori says:

      @Xandie — glad that you are learning my language and are proud of it! The difficulties most Westerners find are in proper pronunciation, in listening comprehension because of the pronunciation differences, using the particles properly, and in navigating the system of honorifics. You might have to learn 5 different ways to express something as simple as “I am eating” to correspond to correct levels of politeness. The differences in the phonemes are quite subtle for native-English speakers as well. You might not come across the difficulties in pronunciation and cultural context, which are important in language communication as just grammar and vocabulary, as you’re likely not conversing with native speakers. But keep up past week one! You’ll be learning Gangnam Style in no time ;)

      And age does help a lot! I’m really grateful for my multilingual childhood. My mother is Japanese, my father Korean, but they chose to spoke their respective languages to me but English to each other at home because they had been educated in the UK. We moved internationally for my father’s work, and so by age 12, I had picked up Mandarin, German, Italian, and French. If I had been older, I would have developed stranger accents or have the problem of replacing one language with the words in another, I do say.

      To the Vox people — I must also say, that this infographic should be renamed perhaps more as “convographic”, or perhaps even updated to reflect the comments people have been making. The “Chinese” mistake is particularly egregious…and because the data is from an old Foreign Service Report, you might take the time to also mention the context in which such a ranking was made. For example, 3-4 hours of class time per day plus self-study for 40-year old native-English speakers who had familiarity with other languages. Your graphic is pretty to look at but a rather sloppy rehash of actual information.

  52. sojan says:

    hindi is very easy , try learning malayalam, u ll piss even for a tamil speaker, it is damn difficult so, malayalam is a language spoken in the state of kerala, india. it is very complex compared to any dravidian language. normallly malayalam speakers learn any indian language faster than any other indians.

    • Partha says:

      Try learning Oriya. Oriya people learn South languages faster compared to other North languages. Its pure Sanskrit derived language. Very few South people learn any other language. But in Orissa you will find more polyglots.

  53. Ján Hanus says:

    The most difficult is grammar structure. Slovak language is the only one with seven grammar cases (nominativ, genitiv, dativ, accusativ, local, instrumental, vocativ), exquisite words, soft and hard “i”, declension of adjectives and verbs, in other words almost each and every word in this language is being declinated. There are many other characteristics which are not found in other world languages. It is said, or estimated, that it takes about 12 years to learn it completely, but the linguists say, that there is no one on this earth who can speak this language perfectly knowing all the grammar rules.
    -thank you for your attention:-)-hoppefully I just make it clear:-)-so the one lanquage never mentioned here is the one thats most difficult…

  54. king jeremih says:

    im very proud of my self cuz i used live in Middle East And I’m Speaking And Writing Arabic Very Well Yay And I’m Just 18 years old :)

  55. Dan Genetcs says:

    First of all, you have forgot to mention Hungarian language.
    Hungarian has 35 cases or noun forms. That fact alone would make it a candidate in this list. Hungarian is full of very expressive, idiomatic words, and suffixes. The high amount of vowels and their deep-in-the throat sound makes it very hard to speak as well. It takes more effort to learn it and maintain what you learned then most other languages.

    I know because I am a Hungarian, please do a proper research!



  56. I.M. says:

    I would like to see the person responsible for the content of this site becoming proficient in Greek (or in any of the other languages of the ‘medium difficulty’ group) in 44 weeks. What a joke.

  57. iliyan says:

    I’m agree for Hugarian.
    But who cares about them. They are just few. Does anyone heard about Bulgaria?
    …… and finally everyone write in english. :-)

  58. Tony says:

    I too was surprised not to see German up here, but I think I mostly agree with everything that’s been said. I picked up Spanish pretty easily (it’s mostly gone now) after 3 years of public classes and a few family trips south of the border and would certainly consider it an “easy” language. Right now I’m having some trouble really getting a handle on German because of its endless case changes and word order, but hopefully that will change after a year abroad there next year :)

  59. Dastvo says:

    there should be a fourth difficulty called Arabic. where to become fluent one must be born again in an arabic speaker country. Arabic is harder than that chart says.

  60. Peter says:

    The only reason why German is “medium” is because of it’s cases and declensions. But seriously, if you’re talking about difficulty, it is no harder to become proficient at German than Swedish, Norwegian, or Dutch.

  61. micheal says:

    I agree Turkish is a very hard language. Bur i like Turkish sound when they speak.. It is a nice language.

  62. Alena says:

    How about Czech!!!! thats definitely missing on the list. But I am glad for the first time I hear it is not the hardest one of all..

  63. Laura Macfarlane says:

    If the languages were compared based on an English speaker’s ability to learn to speak a language and not worry about literacy, the chart would look quite different. Japanese for example, is easy to pronounce and the grammar, while very different to English, is quite systematic.

    I was also under the impression that Thai was a tonal language, just like Chinese (whose sentence structure is apparently similar to English). Why isn’t it classified as hard, because let’s face it, pronunciation is the biggest hurdle to learning a language. You can’t learn what you can’t hear or pronounce.

  64. Martina says:

    I would just like to say that, though this graph is fun and interesting, certain important parts are left out. For example, Mandarin is very difficult to learn to write and pronounce (especially if you’re tone-deaf), but has some of the easiest grammar in the world, while Korean is very easy to write (since it uses an alphabet, not characters), but has incredibly complex grammar. Additionally, Serbian and other Slavic languages may be easy to spell, but in everyday life they are incredibly complex and demanding to use because there are so many varied conjugations that have to be made on the spot in order for someone’s sentence to make sense and be accurate-even more than in Spanish, French, Korean or Japanese. When I explained to my Korean friends how Serbian works they were just mind-boggled~ lol!

  65. Anti North Korean Military Dictatorship says:

    i know why they put Korean in the “hard” category.
    in addition to the explanation in the image, korean has (as an example) over 5 ways to say thank you.
    it’s like it may sound either rude to old people or strange to young people if you choose an wrong sentence to say thank you.
    all the sentences and examples from Korean language lessons are just respect language(totally standard).
    The way of speaking and expressions may totally vary between friends, to young people or old people etc. by adding or dropping several letters at the end or middle of sentences.
    But reading and writing Korean are the easiest in the world for sure,

  66. Heather says:

    This amazing posting, “What Are The Hardest Languages To Learn?

    [INFOGRAPHIC] | Voxy Blog” displays that u truly fully understand
    precisely what u are writing about! I completely approve.

    Thanks a lot ,Reginald

  67. Louis Wunsch-Rolshoven says:

    Why don’t you mention the international language Esperanto which is much easier to learn than the other languages you mentioned. If for languages like Spanish it’s about 600 hours, for Esperanto it’s about 200 hours or even less. And you’ll find Esperanto speakers in more than 120 countries worldwide. See more on the Wikipedia.

  68. Lee says:

    As a native Korean, I can say written Korean doesn’t rely on Chinese characters at all!
    Korean has their own characters called Hanguel.

  69. MJ Khairuddin says:

    I think learning Indonesian/Malay language is more easier than all languages because Malay using Roman characters same like English but very difficult to learn if Indonesian/Malay language using Jawi/Arabic characters…

  70. anonymous says:

    Thanks for adding Romanian language into the chart. It is often forgoten but is the most spoken language in Europe after English French German and Spanish. Cheers .

  71. Marek says:

    Always been curious as to who here or elsewhere decides which languages are “hard” vs. “easy”:-) Personally, I’ve wondered out loud forever why for example English isn’t listed under the “hard languages”!! Its watered-down grammar notwithstanding, English is about the most chaotic language both to spell as well as to pronounce. Why Korean or even Japanese are NOT mentioned within the same rubric as Polish or Russian remains a mystery to me. It’s all soooooo relative anyway, isn’t it.

    Perhaps being a professional linguist, my input’s not really fair.

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