What is the most difficult language to learn? Chinese!!!

What is the most difficult language to learn in the world? Have you ever wondered? I always thought the language I was studying was the most difficult one to learn:))) It turns out The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the US Department of State did a research to find out how long it takes to learn a language for English speakers. According to the study the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers are Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
We took this finding a step further and counted the number of hits for each language in blogs. The quiries were “Arabic is the most difficult language to learn”, “Japanese is the most difficult language to learn”, “Chinese is the most difficult language to learn” and “Korean is the most diffiuclt language to learn.” The winner was very clear: CHINESE!!! The results were as follow
Korean: 5 hits
Arabic:124 hits
Japanese: 220 hits
Chinese :1200 hits
Just to make sure we get it right, we also looked at the number students studying foreign languages in the USA (the largest English speaking country) and there were actually more people studying Japanese and the number of students studying Arabic was comparable. So we declared that Chinese is the most difficult language to learn in the world for English speakers***
Here you can see

The Number of Hours Needed to Learn each Language for English speakers according to FSI.

*** We also searched for comments on blogs that are related with “pronunciation” difficulties and expectedly there were more blog posts about the difficulty of pronunciation of Chinese compared with the other 3 languages. Additionally, when Japanese , Korean and Chinese are compared in terms of the time needed to learn the alphabet Chinese automatically can be considered the toughest since in Chinese there are no simplified sub-alphabets like Hangul (Korean) or Hiragana and Katakana (Japanese)

Number of People studying Foreign Languages in the USA (Source Modern Language Association of America, 2010)

Language 2006 2009 % change
Spanish 822,985 864,986 5.1
French 206,426 216,419 4.8
German 94,264 96,349 2.2
American Sign L. 78,829 91,763 16.4
Italian 78,368 80,752 3
Japanese 66,605 73,434 10.3
Chinese 51,582 60,976 18.2
Arabic 23,974 35,083 46.3
Latin 32,191 32,606 1.3
Russian 24,845 26,883 8.2

 

6 thoughts on “What is the most difficult language to learn? Chinese!!!”

  1. This is really interesting! I’m trying (as an adult) to learn Japanese and teach my kids as well. It’s not going as quickly as I had hoped. When I was in high school and college, I studied German and found it to be quite easy. I’m encouraged that German isn’t the easiest language to learn (by time) and there may be hope for me yet! 🙂

  2. What about the languages of the World that are less common like Basque (that has no linguistic relative) or the clicky African language (whose name escapes me). I imagine not many people in the US are learning them and thus there won’t be any statistics for them. How do we know they are not harder for a monolingual English speaker to learn?

  3. of course! I’m Korean and I think Korean is the easiest language to learn! It is the most scientific language

  4. Finding the hardest language to learn is similar to finding the best tasting pizza in the world. Some people might like different toppings than others, and some prefer their pizzas thin instead of thick. The same goes for language. To create a clearer picture one could however break down the languages to their individual parts such as grammar, speaking, writing etc…and see which individual aspects of the language are relatively harder to learn. To see what I mean, you can have a look at this list. http://www.language-united.com/hardest-languages-to-learn.html

  5. Finding the hardest language to learn is similar to finding the best tasting pizza in the world. Some people might like different toppings than others, and some prefer their pizzas thin instead of thick. The same goes for language. To create a clearer picture one could however break down the languages to their individual parts such as grammar, speaking, writing etc…and see which individual aspects of the language are relatively harder to learn. To see what I mean, you can have a look at this list. http://www.language-united.com/hardest-languages-to-learn.html

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