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Linguaholic

What are the hardest languages to learn?


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Hi guys!  Take a look at this info graph before replying to this thread please.  I think the 1.69 years estimate for the hardest languages is too generous, don't you think?   Specially for a native English or Spanish speaker... D:    Looking forward to hearing about your own personal experiences :)  I know every student is different and some languages might be harder than others depending on your mother language.  So our experiences might vary a lot. 

 

The hardest languages to learn. Looks like I blindly picked out the hardest languages to study: Korean and Mandarin Chinese.:

 

 

Edited by Trellum
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I've always said that yes, I do believe it's possible to learn a language in a year or so, for sure... given that you need no job, have plenty of money and can devote every single hour of your day to this task. And your motivation stays top notch all the time. And you don't even get tired. But realistically, how many people are that lucky?

I really don't imagine you could ever become fluent in, say, Arabic in less than two years when you have a job, a family and some other tasks at hand. Not unless you own a time machine or something :) I sure would love to buy a couple more hours to the meager 24 that we have each day!

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Quote from another thread:

I think you are quoting this FSI article (see Table 2., page 78).

Some things you should keep in mind about this chart. These are classroom hours for intensive courses at the US Foreign Service Institute. Typically they spend many hours outside of classes studying too. Also, students are usually experienced language learners and native English speakers.

So these numbers are good for determining the approximate relative difficulty of different languages for a native English speaker. In other words, these numbers aren’t equal to the amount of time it will take you to get fluent, but you can approximate that learning Japanese will take a native English speaker 3-4 times as long as learning Spanish. My personal experience jibes with that. 

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It all depends on the your individual perspective and the languages that you speak. For some one that speaks English and Ukrainian, will find that Russian is very easy yet for some one that  speaks for instance Spanish and Japanese, might find it difficult. So I don't think that chart is 100% correct. It really comes down to your linguistic ability and experience.

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Yeah I don't know.
Learning the language (I assume means perfect written and colloquial skills) in less than 2 years? I hardly think so. You can get pretty good I'm sure.

But maybe if you're in the country and you do nothing - and I mean nothing - else than study and practice...perhaps it's possible.

I do remember that in just 2 months in Japan I made greater progress than on my own in a year. Then again my system/method of studying was not as refined as it is now. So it's hard to say....

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I agree with you, Trellum! In my opinion, it's not that simplistic and these time frames may well be possible, but they won't cut across the board, and will depend on a lot of factors, like Richard. H has stated. For instance, I spent 4 years studying French in the classroom and although my progress was good, it wasn't until I went to France and lived with a non-English speaking family for a few months and lived and breathed French for all that time that I saw a marked difference. So I'm guessing the time frames indicated would be feasible if they were based solely on situations where all you did was focus on language learning. 

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I would say Romanian is easy to learn for someone who knows any kind of Latin based language, like Italian or Spanish, but for Germanic people, Romanian would be really hard to learn. Also, I saw that they did not mention anything about learning Hungarian, which is closely related to Finnish, but I would say, Hungarian should have gone into the Hard category.

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Hungarian should have gone into the Hard category.

This chart is taken from a more complete one where Hungarian goes in the middle category. I explained the chart in my earlier post; too bad nobody wants to read it. The linked article is really helpful information.

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I was thinking of this exact image when I clicked the thread. Every learner is different, and it would depend on how much time/effort one puts in, as well as their natural skill. There's also the added factor of whether the language they're learning is close to their native language (or even another language they've learned before). Mandarin might be hard for an English speaker, but easier for a Japanese speaker. Likewise, English might be difficult for the Asian language speakers but easier for European language speakers.

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I would agree that the Asian languages are very hard to learn. I don't even want to attempt to learn Chinese or Japanese. I think you need a lot of time to learn those languages. The romance language are considered easier but they are still harder than English.

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This chart is taken from a more complete one where Hungarian goes in the middle category. I explained the chart in my earlier post; too bad nobody wants to read it. The linked article is really helpful information.

I`m sorry, I didn`t read you earlier post. But in any case, the chart is really helpful for anyone looking to learn a new language and trying to find info about how hard it could possibly be. Hungarian being in the middle cartegory is acceptable, though I don`t quite agree with that assumption. ;)

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I`m sorry, I didn`t read you earlier post. But in any case, the chart is really helpful for anyone looking to learn a new language and trying to find info about how hard it could possibly be. Hungarian being in the middle cartegory is acceptable, though I don`t quite agree with that assumption. ;)

That's ok, I've learned that in this forum many people just like to read the topic and respond. This chart is for native English speakers, so it will be of limited use to you.

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I think Latin is definitely the hardest language to learn, especially since it is not spoken anymore.  It is a not a language that you can go study in a foreign country, but instead it is the root of all romantic languages. I firmly believe for those who are able to conquer this difficult language other romantic languages (Spanish and Italian) will come easy.  

 

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