It takes hard work to learn a language, regardless of how difficult it is. It takes countless mistakes, hours of practice, and tons of hours of practice to become fluent. What are the hardest languages to learn in the world?
The World’s 5 Most Difficult Languages
We’ve chosen five of the most difficult languages to learn and reviewed a few of them. Our aim with this list was to keep it short by choosing only “first languages” spoken by at least 5 million people each.
1 – Mandarin
There are nearly 1.4 billion native speakers of Mandarin Chinese, making it the most popular language in the world. It’s pretty common knowledge that Mandarin is among the most difficult languages to learn, but why is that? The script is one of the biggest obstacles.
There are over 50,000 characters in Mandarin, unlike the popular Roman alphabet that you are reading now. There are no phonetic characters either (meaning they cannot be pronounced just by looking at them), which means you have to rely on your brain to remember all the meanings! Mandarin is also one of the hardest languages to learn ranked, not just from a written perspective, but also from a speaking perspective.
Language has four nuances, so it can have different meanings depending on how you say it. As an example, when you say “ma” you could be saying “horse”
2 – Japanese
For the moment, we’ll stick to East Asia, crossing the sea to Japan and learning one more of the world’s most difficult languages. It is often said that Japanese is similar to Mandarin in the sense that for students to understand anything, they must memorize thousands of characters.
Mandarin and Japanese characters have some similarities, but the pronunciation is usually quite different. Japanese has three different writing systems, Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, making things more complicated.
Those who are interested in learning Japanese and are wondering where to begin should start with Hiragana and Katakana, which are considered to be easier to learn than Kanji.
3 – Arabic
Most of the Arab world, but also Africa, speaks Arabic as their official language. The wide variety of dialects within Arabic, which is spoken by over 250 million people, makes learning it challenging.
The Arabic alphabet also presents challenges for learners as well. The script consists of 28 letters, so it’s not as difficult to learn! As well as written from left to right, pronunciation can also be challenging due to the lack of vowel sounds and the fact that learners must cough to sound out words.
4 – Xhosa
African languages are rarely included in lists of the world’s toughest languages. Edvoy does things slightly differently, so let’s take a look at Xhosa.
It’s more challenging to pronounce Xhosa as “Kozza”. It would be more accurate if you made a separate click noise with your tongue after the sound of ‘K’. Most people think Xhosa is an obscure language, but it’s anything but.
The language is the first language of more than 8 million South Africans, including former president Nelson Mandela. Many African languages are distinguished by their “click consonants” and are therefore difficult to learn. A total of 18 different click consonants occur in Xhosa, originating from the back of the teeth, tongue, or roof of the mouth.
5 – Russian
One of the hardest languages to learn, it is also one of the world’s major languages. How strange! There will be some difficulty learning Russian if you have not studied other Slavic languages (those of north and east Europe and Eurasia).
It takes a little while to learn the Russian alphabet, but Russian grammar is a much more difficult thing to learn than Mandarin or Japanese.
It’s hard to keep track of all the rules, but there are almost as many exceptions! Likewise, pronunciation can be tough as a word’s stress is difficult to figure out, just like in any hard language.
Plus one additional language that’s hard to learn: English!
You must have learned something challenging to read this in that language! While the majority of humans speak English, it has the reputation as one of the most challenging languages to master although it is the most widely spoken language on Earth.
Considering all the grammar rules to memorize and the way the rules for pronunciation vary so much, it’s not hard to understand why. How does reading sound different from reading? Is drought a verb? What about cough and bough?
The hard part about learning English is that as you get better at it, it becomes harder! The more English you learn, the easier it becomes to make mistakes! It has no shortage of words, both ordinary and fancy, formal and informal tones as well as slang terms.