Do you want to challenge your linguistic abilities in the new decade? Are you looking for something challenging that stimulates your brain? A language that is supposedly easy such as French or Spanish stumped you.
Read: Meaning of Colonel
List of Difficult Languages
What about other languages? You may have wondered – at least for English speakers – which languages are the most challenging to learn. This article offers 8 of the hardest languages to learn.
8 – Cantonese
To test your Chinese comprehension, try Cantonese. Cantonese is notoriously unknowledgeable about how many tones it has. Mandarin has four clearly defined tones; Cantonese has none.
Many people estimate it to be between six and nine tones. People generally study standard Chinese, so learning Cantonese is far more difficult. Additionally, you will have to master traditional Chinese script rather than the simplified version used in mainland China. It is possible to find someone to practice Cantonese with if you are an overseas Chinese.
It’s even possible to learn Cantonese in a year if you put your mind to it, as I did. I created Cantonese Conversations out of that experience, a comprehensive resource featuring raw, authentic material designed to help you master real Cantonese.
7 – Vietnamese
Vietnamese could be your ticket to attempt learning a devilishly difficult language. The language consists of six tones (two of which are especially tricky), numerous vowel sounds, and sounds that are not found in English.
There are also some differences between southern Vietnamese and northern Vietnamese, which adds another layer of complexity. There are some advantages of modern Vietnamese writing, including its Latin alphabet. Nevertheless, you will need to cope with quite a few additional accents and tone marks.
6 – Thai
Even though Thailand has five tones, its five tones are relatively easy to master. Vietnamese, on the other hand, uses a completely different writing system.
Thailand is particularly difficult to write in. Even though there are 44 consonant symbols and 15 vowel symbols, the large number of letters does not pose a problem.
But there are a few sounds that use multiple letters. It is important to know which letter goes where. The spelling rules regarding tones can also be complex.
Furthermore, the vowel can come either before, after, above, or below the consonant. However, most of the grammar is quite simple, so at least that’s an advantage! Several years ago, I learned Thai for a two-week mission trip.
5 – Japanese
The Japanese language is renowned for being one of the hardest languages to learn according to learning, and with good reason. There are three different scripts in Japanese that are necessary to learn.
Japanese and foreign words are both written using Hiragana, which contains 46 characters, and Katakana which contains a greater number of characters. In the meantime, Kanji, a character system derived from Chinese characters, is much more difficult to learn.
However, once you’ve mastered its writing system, Japanese pronunciation is extremely simple, and the grammar is just ‘medium’ – what’s the big deal? Furthermore, I have created Japanese Uncovered, a story-based course that will lead you to conversational fluency in Japanese without stressing about the alphabet or grammar.
4 – Arabic
Beginning students may find Arabic difficult to understand because of its exotic script. The alphabet is not that difficult to learn, aside from the fact that vowels are often omitted and a few other complications. This is not the end of the learning process, however.
There are some difficult grammar rules in Arabic. You’ll also need to practice certain sounds. Likewise, Arabic dialects differ greatly, with Egypt’s Arabic very distinct from that spoken in Saudi Arabia, for example. For help with Arabic short stories, pick up my Short Stories for Beginners!
3 – Hindi
Due to many of the same reasons as Arabic, Hindi is another of the hardest languages to learn. You’ll have to learn a new alphabet, and some sounds will take some practice. It’ll also be difficult to master the grammar. Because there are more than 120 million native speakers, you won’t lack partners to practice with.
2 – Russian
The Cyrillic alphabet is used to write Russian. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be an issue. A few days will be enough for you to learn how Russian works. Grammatical skills are harder. The Russian language has a few peculiarities, including the fact that the verb ‘to be’ does not go in the present tense. However, cases are the most problematic.
The word ‘cases’ changes depending on its function in the sentence. Three are necessary to tell the time in Russian, and there are six altogether. The good news is after you’re well-acquainted with these – along with some peculiar syntax (for English speakers) – you’ll be well on your way to learning this extremely useful and rich language.
1 – Czech
You feel secure when you speak Czech. However, do not be fooled by its Latin script – it is notoriously one of the hardest languages to learn. This sounds like Russian to the untrained ear. This time, there are seven cases, just like Russian.
You may also find Czech grammar overly complicated due to its FOUR genders. You may also find it hard to pronounce it. It is impossible to reproduce some sounds in Czech, including the ř sound. Some people believe that this sound is the most difficult to pronounce in any language in Europe, even for Czech children!