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Most Difficult Languages to Learn for English-Speakers

Learning a new language can be a very fun experience for any English-speaker to undertake. Contrary to popular belief, you can learn a new language, no matter how old you are. Of course, for English-speaking individuals, there are some languages that are more difficult to learn than others, which can take up to 88 weeks or 2,200 class hours to reach a satisfactory speaking and reading proficiency level (below).

The Most Difficult Languages for English-speakers to Learn


japanese photo

According to recent statistics, approximately 123 million individuals around the globe speak Japanese, especially in Japan. Unfortunately, learning it can be a major task for English-speakers, as this language doesn’t have closeness to English as the Portuguese, French, and Spanish languages do. There is no word in the Japanese vocabulary that you will be able to link to an English word. You will be required to memorize over 1,000 unique words and thus lot of patience is needed if you want to nail this language.


Standard Arabic, which is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, is currently spoken by 390 million individuals. It is spoken across North Africa, Middle East, and the Horn of Africa. This language is difficult for English-speakers to learn due to it only having a couple of words that resemble words of European languages and for its lack of vowels, which makes reading very difficult to comprehend.


With over 1.3 billion native speakers, this language, which is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, is a tonal language. This means that the meaning of words change when you change the tone in which you say it. Not only that, but its writing system is very complex, and it contains thousands of characters that are not a piece of cake to learn.


About 77 million individuals speak Korean. This language has been referred by numerous of people to be one of the most difficult languages to learn, as it has different conjugations, syntax, and sentence structures. When you write in Korean, you will greatly rely on a lot of Chinese characters.


This language is spoken mostly in Finland, but it is also spoken by some people in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Estonia, Russia, Norway, and Sweden. At the moment, there are five million Finnish-speakers in the world. This non-native European language has morphemes and phonetics that quite difficult for English-speaking people to understand. The phonetics of Finnish resemble the one of Swedish, but not the grammar. For Japanese, Russian, and English-speaking people, the complexity of the vocabulary and grammar of Finnish is extremely difficult due to it not resembling, besides Estonian, any other language.


There are approximately 20,000-30,000 people in the United States and Canada who speak Icelandic. They are usually descendants of Icelanders who emigrated to these countries during the end of the 19th century due to the severe conditions that were occurring in Iceland. For those English-speakers who do not have a firm base in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, or Faroese, this language can be very difficult to learn. Icelandic’s phonetics is very complex, as it combines to form morphemes that are complex. They can move from one consonant to the next.

You Can Still Get the Hang of Them

These six languages have been considered to be the most difficult ones to learn for English-speakers, but if you still have the desire to learn one of them, you certainly can, but you should know beforehand that it will take you much longer in order to do so than if you were to opt to learn Spanish or French.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Language of Choice

There are a few things that you can do to learn one or more of these languages besides utilizing programs. It is important that you listen to songs that go hand in hand with your language of interest, as well as watching television programs. Since nowadays we have YouTube, it makes everything much easier, as you can watch programs in any language. This can be of great help to familiarize yourself with your language of choice. It is important that you do this as much as you can. If possible, do it every day. If you do, everything will soon fall into place just like English did when you were a child.