20 Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers

Filed in Articles by on January 6, 2023

We did a bit of research and now present to you, the hardest languages to learn in the world. It is known that learning a new language is always difficult but with persistence, you can do it.

About the Hardest Language to Learn

Have you ever wondered what the hardest languages to learn are? For whatever reason, if you’ve ever wondered about which languages are the most difficult to learn – for English speakers, at least.

There’s a lot of debate about which language is the most difficult to learn. Plus, those that are difficult to pick up are usually tough for entirely different reasons.

For instance, tonal languages—where the pitch of your voice can change the meaning of a word—are notoriously challenging and difficult.

Moreover, there are languages that have either incredibly rigid or extremely loose rules for grammar. If a language has one, two, or all three of those hurdles, it can get frustrating and be considered hard to learn.

Hardest Languages to Learn for English Speakers

When it comes to the ease of learning a new language, no two languages are similar. That’s because the ease of learning depends on the native language. Check below;

1. Mandarin

Mandarin is a language within the Chinese language group and is actually the most spoken language in the world.

Learning Mandarin’ – is often cited as the most difficult language for English speakers to learn. As it happens, I disagree. But it’s certainly a big challenge.

Another hurdle is the four tones: Chinese is a tonal language, and words have different meanings depending on the intonation.

For example, mai with a falling tone means “sell” (mài卖) – but when pronounced with a tone that falls and then rises, it means “buy” (măi买).

2. Arabic

To the beginner, Arabic might look totally impenetrable due to its exotic script. But apart from the fact that vowels are often omitted and one or two other complications, the alphabet is not so difficult to learn.

Unfortunately, the writing is just the start. Arabic has some pretty tough grammar to get to grips with. And some of the sounds will need practice.

There are also many distinct dialects of Arabic, with the Arabic of Egypt being very different from the Arabic spoken in Saudi Arabia, for example.

3. Cantonese

If you think standard Chinese is testing, try Cantonese. Mandarin has four clearly defined tones, unbelievably, nobody really knows how many there are in Cantonese.

However, many overseas Chinese are Cantonese speakers, so you stand a good chance of finding someone to practice with.

4. Vietnamese

If you want to try getting your tongue around a language that’s devilishly hard to pronounce, Vietnamese could be the one for you.

It features six tones (two of which are particularly tricky), a large number of vowel sounds and several sounds that are unlike anything in English.

Northern Vietnamese is also quite different from the Vietnamese of the south, adding another layer of difficulty.

One positive is that modern Vietnamese is written in a version of the Latin alphabet. That said, there are quite a few extra accents and tone marks that you will have to contend with.

5. Thai

Thai is another tonal language, although its five tones are relatively easy to master.

However, unlike Vietnamese, it’s written in its own unique script. And Thai writing is a particular challenge.

A large number of letters is not the biggest issue (there are 44 consonants and 15 vowel symbols). some sounds have more than one letter. And you need to remember which one is used in any particular word.

6. Japanese

Japanese has a reputation for being one of the world’s hardest languages, and for good reason. It has not one but three scripts you need to learn Japanese.

Hiragana and Katakana, used mainly for writing foreign and Japanese words respectively, are phonetic, both containing 46 characters.

Much more difficult is Kanji, a system based on Chinese characters, of which several thousand are in common use.

7. Hindi

Hindi is another challenging tongue for speakers of English to learn for many of the same reasons as Arabic.

There’s a new alphabet to tackle, there are some sounds that will require work. And there’s some tricky grammar to master.

The big advantage is that, with around 120 million native speakers, you won’t be short of partners to practice with.

8. Russian

The Russian language is evaluated as 2 of 3 in difficulty by the (FSI), which positions languages based on how long it would take the average native English speaker to learn it.

It uses a Cyrillic alphabet made up of letters both familiar and unfamiliar to us.

It is also the hardest language to learn ranked as Russian uses many consonants bunched together like Polish which makes spelling and pronunciation a challenge.

9. Czech

Czech is a language that lulls you into a false sense of security. But although it’s written in Latin script, don’t let it fool you – it’s a notoriously tough tongue to conquer.

To the untrained ear, it’s easy to mistake it for the Russian language. And like Russian, it makes use of cases – this time, seven. It also has no fewer than FOUR genders.

10. Hungarian

Hungarian grammar is actually so hard to learn for English speakers due to its most difficult rules with 26 different cases which it includes in the list of hardest languages to learn.

Not only this but there are also some essential cultural implications that make it more difficult to learn in separation that’s why most European languages face this problem.

11. Korean

The Korean alphabet was actually created by King Sejong the Great in 1443. He wanted to develop a simplified writing system specifically suited to the Korean language.

He set up a committee of scholars who developed the alphabet that is still in use today, known as “Hangul.” Hangul consists of just 24 symbols, of which 10 are vowels and 14 are consonants. 

12. Finnish

Finnish is the official language of European countries like Finland and Sweden and is known as one of the hardest languages to speak and learn because of its complex case and vowel system.

As a result, learning and mastering this language is extremely taxing yet rewarding.

13. Mongolian

The trickiest part of Mongolian is the pronunciation. Once you’ve got that down, the grammar is not so hard, as long as you know Finnish.

Moreover, the alphabet is a breeze, assuming you can read Russian. If you don’t meet those two criteria, though, it is a very challenging language to master.

14. Icelandic

Icelandic is nearly as difficult as some of the languages on this list of hardest languages to learn.

The fact that it is spoken by less than 400,000 people on one island and is mostly unchanged since Iceland was established in the 9th and 10th centuries means that is also pretty complex and distinctive.

15. Georgian

Georgian has its own writing system that no other language uses. And a lot of the letters look surprisingly similar.

For example, ვ, კ, პ, ჰ, ყ, ფ, გ, and ც are all different letters that you might have a hard time distinguishing between if you’re new to the game.

16. Polish

Compared to the Finno-Ugric languages on the list (Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian), the seven cases you have to contend with in Polish don’t seem too intimidating. The pronunciation is what will get you.

However, there are a lot of sounds that simply aren’t present in the English language and require a lot of practice to master.

17. Greek

The most obvious impediment to learning Greek is the alphabet.

The grammar can also be a little tricky, with some unusual conjugations, lots of rules, and gendered nouns. And pronunciation requires some practice because there are sounds that don’t have an equivalent.

18. Albanian

Albanian’s 36-letter alphabet should clue you in that attempting to master this language is going to be a wild ride. 

19. Turkish

Turkish is an agglutinative language, which means, in crude terms, that complex words are formed by tacking stuff on without changing the previous stuff at all.

It is pretty foreign to English speakers, but if you speak Japanese, Korean, or Finnish (which are all also on this list), you won’t have such a hard time grasping it.

20. Navajo

Navajo is hard enough to figure out that code talkers in World War II used the language to develop a code for communicating that the Germans wouldn’t be able to track.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which language is the most difficult for people to learn?

Mandarin is unanimously considered the toughest language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system.

2. What is the hardest language to learn for English speakers?

Still, the hardest language to learn for English speakers is Mandarin. Spoken by over a billion people in the world.

3. What’s the easiest and the hardest language to learn?

Spanish is the #1 easiest language to learn

4. What is the most difficult language you taught yourself?

There’s a lot of debate about which language is the most difficult to learn. Those languages that are difficult to pick up are usually tough for entirely different reasons from one person to another.

5. What’s the hardest language to learn on Earth as of 2019?

Mandarin is considered the toughest language to learn in the world! especially for those using the Latin writing system.

6. What are some of the toughest languages to learn?

learning Mandarin.

7. Is English the hardest language to learn? Why or why not?

The English language is widely regarded as one of the most difficult to master. Because of its unpredictable spelling and challenging to learn grammar, it is challenging for both learners and native speakers.

8. What language is the hardest to learn for Americans?


All these languages have no connection to the English language, which makes these the top 10 hardest languages to learn. If you want to master any of these languages, be intentional about it.

CSN Team.

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