The Hardest Languages For English Speakers To Learn
Daryl Perry, the founder of Learn Languages Online, says that while learning a second language is difficult, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s impossible. In fact, he says that it takes a lot of work and dedication to become fluent in another language. “Learning a language is like playing a video game,” he explains. “You have to put in the hours and keep practicing every day.”
Perry says that there are several things that make learning a language challenge. For starters, there are over 7,100 different languages spoken around the world. He adds that while it’s easy to learn English because it’s the global language, it’s harder to learn a language that isn’t widely used.
He also points out that there are over 63 million bilingual speakers in the United states alone. This makes it even more complicated to learn multiple languages because you’ll have to learn two sets of vocabulary and grammar rules.
In addition to having to master two sets of language rules, Perry says that learning a language requires patience. You have to learn how to read and write the language correctly and understand what sounds look like in the language. If you’re trying to learn Spanish, for example, you might have to memorize hundreds of words and phrases.
While it’s important to know how to pronounce certain words, Perry warns against relying too heavily on technology to help you learn a language. Instead, he recommends talking to native speakers whenever possible.
“If you don’t talk to someone who speaks the language, you won’t really learn it,” he says. “The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the culture.”
If you want to become fluent in another language, it might seem like a daunting task. But there are some languages that are much harder to learn than others. According to linguistic expert Benjamin Davies, there are three things when determining what makes a language difficult to learn: how many words do you need to know; how similar are those words to English; and how easy is it to pronounce the words correctly. In fact, we’ve compiled a list of the six hardest languages to pick up for English speakers.
Here’s the list:
- Chinese – China has about 5,000 characters, making it the hardest language to learn! Chinese or Mandarin has five tones: the flat tone, rising tone, dip tone, falling tone and neutral tone. But whether the neutral tone is even considered a tone is debatable. Some linguists consider it a separate pitch class while others think it is simply a lack of a pitch change.
- Japanese – There are over 2 million different kanji characters in the Japanese language alone. This is why learning Japanese takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll need to memorize thousands of characters to be able to communicate effectively.
- Arabic – Arabic is a Semitic language that contains around 40,000 unique sounds. While it shares similarities with Hebrew and Persian, it doesn’t use vowels, making it even more challenging to learn.
- Vietnamese – Its spelling system is based on Chinese characters, making it a challenge even for native speakers. But learning the language isn’t just about mastering the grammar and vocabulary – it’s also about understanding how to speak it properly. And speaking correctly is no mean feat. There are six tones in Vietnamese, and each of those tones requires a separate set of pronunciation rules. The problem is that many people don’t know what they’re doing wrong. So we’ve put together this guide to help you out. We’ll explain everything you need to know to start speaking Vietnamese today.
- Icelandic- Why it’s hard? While Icelandic has been around for over 1000 years, it still adds new meanings to old words. This makes learning the language difficult because every word has multiple definitions. In addition, there are fewer than 400,000 native English speakers that speak Icelandic.
- Hungarian- If you speak another European language, you’ll probably understand what’s being said without too much trouble. But if you’re learning Hungarian, things might seem a little different. We’ve put together a quick guide to help you learn some basic Hungarian phrases.
Aspects of learning languages
Cindy Blanco, senior learning science at Duolingo, says there are many factors that go into deciding whether it’s worth it to learn a language. For example, if you’re learning a language just to use it while traveling, she says, it might not make sense to spend hours every day studying grammar rules.
Blanco says to prioritize staying on track and sticking with it over getting discouraged about learning a difficult language. She says to consider the following questions when determining if it makes sense to learn a foreign language:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- How much time am I willing to invest?
- Is my motivation strong enough?
- Am I able to commit to practicing daily?
The linguistic distance between two languages is a measurement of how closely related those languages are. In general, the farther away two languages are, the less likely it is that you’ll find many shared vocabulary items. This makes sense because the further apart two languages are, the more likely it is that they evolved independently rather than being derived from a single ancestral language.
There are several ways to calculate the linguistic distance between two languages. One way is to look at the percentage of cognate words or words that have the same spelling and pronunciation in both languages. Another method is to count the number of morphemes or small parts of words that form the root of the word. For example, the English word “tooth” contains three morphemes: “to,” “th,” and “t.” If we compare the English word “toothy” to the Spanish word “diente,” we see that there are four morphemes in each word.
A third method is to use the Levenshtein Distance, which measures how many changes must be made to change one string into another. For example, the following strings are considered identical:
“How do I pronounce ‘tooth’?”
To determine the difference between the English word “toothed” and the Spanish word “denteado,” we simply add up the number of letters that differ between the two words. We start with the letter “t” in “toothed,” and subtract the “ed” in “denteado.” Then we add up the remaining differences:
How do I pronounce “tooth”?
In this case, the Levenshtein distance is 4. To ensure our calculations aren’t affected by the length of the words, we divide the total number of differences by the length of the shorter word. So in this case, the Levansthein distance divided by the length of “toothed” equals 0.25.