The time has come to mention the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn. Of course, acquiring them is not impossible, but it is difficult because of multiple variables.
These variables have to do with pronunciation, grammatical structure, the alphabet and even cultural elements.
The language we speak is what allows us to conceptualize the world around us, and, beyond the common universal elements, each civilization has different circumstances and environments, so their languages take different paths.
For example, the Russian word ‘toska’ conveys a deep sense of spiritual anguish that we couldn’t even translate into English or any other language. That is why a language is the result of its culture, and that also influences the real possibilities that we have of acquiring it.
Still, despite the example above, Russian is only the eighth most difficult language for English speakers to learn, according to the general consensus of linguists and students. Next, we will show and explain each language in descending order until we show the most difficult of all.
These are some of the most difficult languages
The difficulty of this language for English speakers lies mainly in its pronunciation. Each vowel can be pronounced with three tones, and those tones are announced in written form by complex diacritics.
Also, each intonation completely changes the meaning of a sentence.
Despite that, Vietnamese is spoken by 70 million people, and when a foreigner finally manages to master the tones, they find grammar easy to learn.
Anyone watching a Bollywood movie without subtitles or translation would freak out trying to understand a single Hindi word.
It all sounds fast and more or less the same if you don’t have a trained ear.
Its writing is Devanagari, and it can be as difficult as its oral development and comprehension.
But the beauty of the language motivates learners once they start studying it.
The first indication that we are facing a difficult language to learn is its alphabet. Russians do not use the Latin letters of most Western languages, instead dealing with the so-called Cyrillic alphabet .
Some Cyrillic letters are identical to those of the Latin alphabet, but they sound completely different.
In addition, this language is the result of the evolution of a conglomerate of Slavic languages, and that makes pronunciation particularly complex for an English speaker.
Modern Greek is an evolution of the so-called classical Greek that was spoken at the time of Aristotle.
Because of its sounds, which gave rise to Latin, Greek could be easy for speakers of Romance languages such as Italian or Spanish.
But it is more complex for English speakers: it has a large vocabulary full of terms that do not exist in Germanic languages, as well as difficult grammatical rules. All this without counting its alphabet, which is different from the Latin one.
Farsi, also called Persian, uses the same writing system as the Arabs.
Many of its words have meanings that require interpretations beyond the ordinary, although there is a tiny advantage: several of today’s English words peculiarly have a Persian origin, for example “soup” or “pyjama”.
This is a very rare mix. Turkish uses the Latin alphabet with various modifications, but many of its words come from Arabic or Farsi.
Students of this language say that the most difficult thing about the Turkish language is its grammatical rules, because, for example, the order of sentences tends to vary depending on what you want to say.
Its grammatical rules come from Greek and Latin, but it is impossible to compare with other Indo-European languages even though it is part of that family.
In Albanian, nouns have both gender and case, and can only be learned through memorization.
It is spoken by 12 million people spread between Serbia and other countries of the Balkan Peninsula. Strangely, it has two scripts: one with the Latin alphabet and one with the Cyrillic one.
Fortunately, it is a phonetic language, meaning that everything —or almost everything— is pronounced as it is written.
Bulgarian uses the Cyrillic alphabet. It is considered the most difficult second language to learn due to its complex grammar and extensive vocabulary.
The most difficult thing is to become familiar with its sounds, and once this is overcome everything becomes more bearable, although later you have to memorize the different conjugations of its verbs.
What do you think if we tell you that Hungarian has 14 vowels? What if we add to that that several of these letters are pronounced almost the same?
There will also be difficulty learning to use consonants. But the most complex thing is its vocabulary, a single term can describe a long and well-structured idea.
At least it’s gender neutral, but that doesn’t stop it from being considered by linguists to be the most difficult language for English speakers to learn.
Learn a language
Despite the difficulties that these languages represent for English speakers, it is always possible to master the most difficult languages with determination and a correct study method.
In any case, it is not necessary to see the negative side of learning a language . Today we have all the necessary tools to acquire a second or third language.
At Lingua Language Center, we make our foreign language courses available to the public, with which we have helped many students to correctly learn languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian . Write us ! Our pedagogical method is backed by great results.