Universal Translation Services

What Is The Hardest Language To Learn

What Is The Hardest Language To Learn
(Last Updated On: April 4, 2021)

Where many people look for learning the easiest languages others find pleasure in playing with challenges. There are huge differences in linguistics within the field of language learning. Some of the hardest languages to learn are tough than others because of the complexity of their written script. Not to forget the hard tongue-twisting pronunciations and the large number of words they contain. This article discusses some of the difficult languages to learn and what makes them challenging languages. Let’s find out which one is the hardest language to learn according to popular opinion.

It is tricky to describe one lingo as difficult to learn. But for any learner, his native language or any foreign tongue that he may have learned become the determinants of difficulty.


Which one is the hardest to learn in the Sino-Tibetan family of languages?

Sino-Tibetan family is the most difficult one for English speakers to have their grip on.


Number of native speakers: 910 million

Tone: It has a neutral tone and four tones

Where it is spoken: China, Singapore, and Taiwan mostly

What makes it hard to learn?

For English speakers, Mandarin is at the top of the list. The first thing that makes it hardest is that it is a tonal language. The meaning of words can be different because of four different tones. It also uses unique idioms and homophones which makes it tricky. It is very important to get the right tone otherwise you will utter a completely different word. There are many Chinese dialects. Cantonese is one of them, which is spoken in many parts of China. And they are very tough to learn because of their pronunciations and written characters. The word ‘ma’ can have different meanings horse, mother, hemp, and scold.  As it is largely spoken all over the world so learning Mandarin gives you huge motivation to learn it and it’s a challenge worth accepting.

Top 8 hardest languages to learn for native English speakers


Number of native speakers: 125 million people

Script: Kanji, Katakana and Hiranji

Tones: No

Where it is spoken: Palau and Japan

What makes it hard to learn?

After Mandarin, Japanese is also one of the hardest languages to learn for non-native speakers. The Japanese writing system is one of its difficult aspects. It has three writing systems, with different alphabets which make it complex. After that, its subject-object-verb also makes it tough to learn.

Over the past few years, Chinese characters have been used in Japanese which makes it more complicated. It becomes difficult for Chinese speakers to recognize all the characters. Japanese speakers use hierarchal forms too to show respect to the polite culture of Japan. Moreover, Japanese uses loan words from Romance languages and from English. And it is single that takes English speaker longest to learn.


Native speakers: It has 310 million Arabic speakers and mostly spoken in the middle east and Africa.

Arabic too, has its own script which is linguistically and culturally distant from English. The Arabic language is tricky for English learners. Accents of Arabic speakers are completely different. Arabic is read from right to left which makes it challenging for most learners. It has unique sounds, different grammatical structures,s and terms of grammar. Vowel sounds are not included in it and have many different dialects. According to linguists, it is a macrolanguage with 30 different varieties. Hindi speakers can learn Arabic more easily because of some similarities in their vocabulary.


Script: alphabets of Latin with added accents

Where it is spoken: spoken by 13 million people in Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Serbia.

What makes it hard to learn?

Hungarian grammar is very complex. It has 26 different cases. Prefixes and suffixes are also added to words. This is why a sentence is explained in a very long verb. It is one of the Latin-based languages which does not have individual prepositions. It is a vowel-harmony language with 14 different vowels.  To make a word sound right, an extra vowel is added at the end of it.  It also has important cultural overtones which makes it really different. However, Hungarian isn’t included in the Indo-European languages. It is a part of the Uralic language family. It has only past, present, and future verb tenses.


Top 8 hardest languages to learn for native English speakers


In Which country it is spoken: Navajo is spoken in the United States

Script: added accents and Latin letters to represent unique sounds within Latin alphabets.

Tone: It is tonal and has four tones.

Navajo is challenging because it is sort of both fusional and agglutinative. Suffixes and prefixes replace prepositions which is the element of agglutination. It has no loan words. It is a verb-centered language for North America. There is no direct translation of most advective and nouns into English. Navajo has no published dictionary yet but if anyone wants to learn it, there are many online resources and teachers available for them.


Where is it Spoken: North Korea and South Korea

Script: Hanja and hangul

Speakers: 77.2 million people of Korea speak the Korean language

Korean has difficult grammatical and difficult pronunciation rules which makes it a harder language for native English speakers. However, every sentence ends with a verb form. Korean is an agglutinative language that uses suffixes and prefixes to modify the word. Also, it has seven speech levels and very unfamiliar grammar. It takes about 65 weeks to learn Japanese proficiently. The endings of Korean are mean to show respect to the authority like the Japanese.


Native speakers: 5.4 million

Considered, the dark horse of languages, it is spoken in Europe and considered the hardest to learn worldwide. It has 15 grammatical cases and 200 possible endings for each verb. Words are inflected by nouns, verbs, and adjectives to express a grammatical function. It has some critical rules about consonants. In fact, a complete sentence of English is just a single word in Finnish. It comes in the category of fair phonetics.

Top 8 hardest languages to learn for native English speakers


Tone: It has six tones

Script: It is one of the Latin languages. Latin alphabets with a twist.

Where it is spoken: Southern China and official language of Vietnam

It is more challenging because of its six tones. Due to the huge number of vowels, it has a different variety of dialects. Vietnamese is very difficult to effectively communicate with those who speak the English language.


Speakers: It is spoken by half a billion people in India and worldwide.

Script: Devanagari

Spelling and grammar: Challenging

Hindi represents a combination of 47 characters including consonants and 14 vowels. It is difficult for non-native speakers because of a lack of phonetic markings which makes it hard to pronounce. Hindi is a subtle language. A slight change in the sound and context can change the meaning of a word.  Hindi has new sounds and it uses SOV word order. English speakers found it the most difficult category.  Hindi shares similar words to Arabic so it is for those who already know Arabic. If you’re looking for Hindi Translation Services, check this out.


Final Thoughts

Learning a difficult language is challenging and may take a bit longer to master but they are worth your time and efforts. It will help you connect with new people and give you a better understanding of new cultures. Just sick to your goals and you will surely prevail.

If we can help you with any questions, please feel free to contact us


Our privacy policy

Keep in touch


Contact Us 24/7

Translation office in Miami