What is the Hardest Language to Learn?

The process of language learning is an active process that a human experiences after birth and it keeps on in progress throughout one’s life. Language acquisition deals with the human capacity and competency to perceive and comprehend a language as well as to produce and use words to communicate and interact with people. People learn new languages to communicate the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of their lives with family members friends, and acquaintances, basically to anyone and to maintain the order of the world. There are more than 7000 languages in the world. A few of them are easy to learn as compared to others.

The top five hardest languages to learn in the world are

  1. Mandarin Chinese
  2. Arabic
  3. Vietnamese
  4. Japanese
  5. Korean

What is the hardest language to learn for Non English speakers?

Mandarin Chinese is one of the languages that is spoken all around the world and has billions of speakers. It also comes on the top as the most difficult language to learn generally and non-English speakers also find it the toughest to crack. This is quite interesting that the most spoken language in the world is the one that is also the hardest to learn. There are multiple factors that make it the most challenging language to learn particularly for speakers of other languages and mainly non-English people.

Factors that make it tough to learn

Chinese is also one of the top languages that avid learners love to learn. However, it does have a lot of challenges. Learning it could not go well with non-English people. Japanese and Korean may find this language a little relevant and other speakers could find it the most difficult one. Here are a few factors which make this language tough to learn for non-English natives.


Unlike the other languages, Chinese Mandarin has quite less grammar patterns. Mainly there are no tenses in the Chinese language. The words in the Chinese language do not change their forms or conjugate. However, that could be an easier thing for the Chinese and those who speak and write languages without verbs. Non English speakers nonetheless, find it quite weird and tough to follow a language that doesn’t practice verbs.

A few examples are

I am——我是 (wǒ shì)

He is——他是 (tā shì)

They are——他们是 (tāmen shì)


A standardized version of the romanized transliteration of Chinese characters is considered Pinyin. It is a thing of great help for Chinese but not much for other speakers. They can barely get the romanized transliteration. However, pinyin is beneficial in the way that having it in systems and online can help with character suggestions.

Chinese characters

Chinese characters are extremely tough and mysteriously and hard to learn for people who are not natives. Reading and writing Chinese characters may require a lifetime to learn and is a difficult aspect of learning Mandarin. 汉字 (hànzì) is the name of Chinese written script and it relies on logograms. These are single characters that if used right can represent the whole world.

Chinese, unlike other western languages, is more related to a pictographic script which makes it tough to remember the huge number of characters. Chinese characters are countless and one needs to memorize at least 3500 characters to learn and practice this language. Now, people who speak languages with 26-27 alphabets and characters can hardly memorize this many characters, and can barely get away with the fact of learning 3500 characters.

In other languages even if you find a word that you never heard of but at least you can try to pronounce it by getting the alphabet. In Chinese, however, it is not the case. A lot of clusters of Chinese characters with similar meanings often come with similar patterns. These elements which are recurring are called radicals. These are the words that serve as the foundation of writing mandarin.

  • 木头 (mùtou) – log
  • 木工 (mùgōng) – carpentry
  • 木屋 (mùwū) – log cabin

Tonal language

Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language which makes it even harder for other language speakers to learn it. Non-English speakers have to master an art where learning Chinese words may require having totally a new skill.

There are four tones in the Chinese language. These can also be considered five adding a neutral tone. It gets challenging for people to detect and scan the differences between pronunciations. Moreover, one more thing which makes learning complex is added change of tone which may sound the same but the tone makes it define a totally different meaning. This implies how the same syllables with different tones can be used for two entirely different things.

What is the hardest language to learn for Spanish speakers?

Spanish itself is not much difficult language to learn and is also on the list of new language learners. It is one of the easiest languages to learn. As the foreign service institute (FSI) suggests Spanish belongs to category I. These levels have been defined by the institute depending on the difficulty level. However, according to FSI Spanish language can be learned by average speakers in 600 hours or about 24 weeks to have a mild understanding of it. This time span gets the user proficient where they can learn and speak about everyday topics.

When it comes to the hardest language to learn for Spanish speakers, there are many including Mandarin Chinese. However, learning Japanese could also be a real struggle for the speakers.

Japanese language

Japanese is one of the hardest languages that Spanish speakers could barely have a grip on. There are multiple reasons that make Japanese harder for Spanish speakers.

Writing system

The Asian writing system of the Japanese language makes it quite challenging for Spanish people to learn and understand. This is quite bewildering how one can write and read without actual letters.

Kanji is the writing system with Chinese characters used for writing Japanese. With Kanji, there is kana which has foreign words, grammar, and marketers. So it gets quite tough for Spanish speakers to understand the language as they come from a language that has a proper writing system.


Unlike English and Spanish, the Japanese use of postpositions makes a Spanish learner ponder a lot to figure out the correct and relevant use of postpositions.

Word order

The verb goes after the object which makes Japan entirely different from Spanish and English. As if the languages belong to two different planets. These difficulties make it tough for the speakers to learn Japanese and if they try their hands, they take a lot of time to get it.

Other languages that could be difficult for Spanish people include Mandarin Chinese and Korean mainly.

What is the hardest language to learn for Chinese speakers?

The answer is quite simple. It is going to be in English. As English speakers could barely get proficient in the Chinese language and the same goes for Chinese speakers who can hardly get a good grip on English. Chinese speakers find English a tough language as both languages are poles apart. Chinese find English complex tenses, Cases, huge vocabulary, and irregular verbs with spellings quite tough and too much to get good at considering English the toughest language for them.

The Chinese teach English as a compulsory subject in school from primary school to university class as well. They also provide help with online resources, through TV and bookstores. Native speakers yet have to struggle a lot with learning English. It further depends on the time and energy they are ready to put in.

What is the hardest Asian language to learn?

Arabic it is, among a few others.

The foreign service institute (FSI) in the US has listed the Arabic language as a category V language which describes the difficulty of this language and it falls in the category of extreme difficulty. According to FSI, it takes more than 2200 hours of study to get proficient in these languages which fall in category V.

Factors that make learning Arabic difficult


The script of Arabic is the foremost thing that non-speakers notice at first about this language. This language is written from right to life unlike the other European languages and the letters are joined with each other which non-natives find disorienting at first. The Arabic language has 28 alphabets and the main hurdle is understanding the languages, reading, and learning.


Pronunciation of the Arabic language is another struggle that non-speakers have to go through. The pronunciation of this language involves guttural sounds. These are the emphatic versions of consonants which are the reason why vowels and their sounds are changed with dual forms of nouns.

Dialects and accents

Like all other languages, the Arabic language also has different versions and dialects which people speak and practice according to their region. Modern standard Arabic is used by today’s generation also it used in politics and the academic world. Arabic is an ancient language and traditional Arabic would be tough even for the people who speak standard and modern Arabic.

Final words

The most difficult language in the world is the one which is spoken most all over the globe, i.e Mandarin Chinese. English speakers, in particular, find it tough to learn Chinese due to it being a tonal language with complex characters and grammar. Spanish people on the other hand may find Japanese tough due to a writing system that comes from Chinese characters. Above all the Asian language that is the toughest to crack is none other than Arabic as even FSI (Foreign Service Institute) has also listed it as a category V language.

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