The most difficult languages you wouldn't want to mess with

Which foreign language to learn? This list will help you find the easiest one for you!

Foreign Service Institute worked out a list of foreign languages ranked in accordance with the difficulty of learning for English-speakers.

To simplify the choice they divided all considered languages in only five categories.

  • Romance languages are the nearest to English by origin since they come from Latin, hence they are easier to pick-up and start talking and writing.These are such languages as French, Spanish, Italian.
  • English also has common roots with other languages like Dutch, Danish, Swedish. All of these languages are comprised in Category 1 and require about 24 weeks of study.
  • Japanese, Korean, or Arabic are the most distant languages in origin from English. You can learn them (one of them!) in 88 weeks (2 years), provided half of this time you spend among native speakers. They are in the Category 5.
  • Studying languages of other categories will take you less time if you spend about 3,5 hours per day on it. This time also hugely depends on your devotion to the process and your learning abilities.

*Languages marked with asterisk are usually harder to learn than those from the same category.

How many languages do you know? Do you agree with the list given above?

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What are your thoughts on this subject?
Darlene Davidson
The map is good. The categorization of languages according to difficulty for English speakers is accurate. One thing needs to be changed because it's such a serious grammar mistake that it cannot go uncorrected since the subject is language learning. The last sentence should read,"Do you agree" not "Are you agree."
Jan 24, 2018 4:30PM
Addie Adams Wijnen
I speak Italian and some French and Dutch. The problem with languages is that if you don’t use them you lose them.
Jun 8, 2019 5:18PM
Betty Wiendels
Nirmal Virdee, Good to know!
May 31, 2020 5:50PM
Jaimi McEntire
This is plainly wrong. English is a Germanic language, not a Latin language. These people plainly do not know what they are talking about.
Sep 23, 2019 5:26PM
Rex Pennell
What about South Pacific, Micronesian,Melanesian, and Australasian?
Aug 29, 2019 7:31PM
Anne Tyler
Frank Champagne, a friend of mine who learned several languages said Welsh was the most difficult.... harder than Greek.
Jun 8, 2019 5:39PM
Leena Livingston
Speaking from personal experience, learning an other foreign language is fairly long road of self discipline and will to learn. It is not repeating what you hear on the tape recorder, but it is changing your entire thinking pattern to the language you are learning. Only than you can start forming sentences and participate in conversation. I know, I have done it.
May 31, 2019 5:38PM
Frank Champagne
They omitted WELSH which is one of the most difficult languages to learn.
May 7, 2019 11:07PM
Prabhakara Surendra
Why No Indian Languages I am surprised?
Apr 4, 2019 7:12AM
Joanne Banks
Deaf signing - it's a language and very difficult!
Apr 1, 2019 4:59PM
Sheila Chisholm
Welsh and Scots Gealic should be high on the list too.
Jan 13, 2019 6:55PM
Pamela Spallin
There is quite a few choices. I speak English and a bit of German. Why can’t people just appreciate what you offer them instead of finding fault with what you’ve missed. Learn these languages and I’m sure they’ll offer you the rest 😜
Jan 5, 2019 2:54PM
Mira Sablyak
I have learned English in the high school and university but when I came to New Zealand on age of 53 I have realised that I need serious learning and now, after been here for 20 years, having 1 year intensive course,living with an Australian for 10 years, I still make mistakes and have some dilemmas! I was lawyer in my country before coming here which means I have a learning skill but every language is so complicate and requires long-long term learning, reading, listening, communications, repeating and foreign accent never disappear.
Nov 21, 2018 5:14PM
Barbara Brady
how about the many laguages of the original Australians
Nov 20, 2018 12:12AM
Rosemary Elstone
Fluent in French, English, passable German and Italian. Can understand some Potuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch. As a child spoke Cree and Oji-Cree. Would like to regain my proficiency. They are VERY difficult languages but essential to understanding my culture, fully.
Sep 26, 2018 7:29PM
Carole Kaplan
I speak fluent German, passable French, Hungarian is extremely difficult
Jun 17, 2018 9:09PM

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