by Samuel Abasi Last updated on July 20th, 2017,

A lot of languages have claimed to be the toughest to learn. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization says the following are the top ten “hardest languages to learn”. This list of 10 includes an explanation of why they made this list. Read it and find out whether these languages are worth their “tough to learn” reputation.

hardest languages to learn (10 FRENCH)

As an official language in 29 countries, French is a challenging language. However, it can be seen as both easy and hard, depending on the learner’s native language. French is a Roman language. If the learner’s grasp of other Roman languages such as Italian, Portuguese and Spanish is strong, French will be a very quick and enjoyable new language to acquire. Otherwise, for those coming from a completely different language family, learning French would be considerably more difficult. Its pronunciation follows very strict rules based on the spelling, which is often based more on history than phonology.

hardest languages to learn (9 Danish)

Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by some 6 million people. The sound system of Danish is in many ways unusual among the world’s languages, which makes it one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, as the spoken language usually does not sound anything like its written version.

hardest languages to learn (8 Norwegian)

Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. It is among the world’s languages that’s the most difficult to learn how to speak well. No officially sanctioned standard of spoken Norwegian is in place and most Norwegians speak their own dialect at any given time.

hardest languages to learn (7 German)

As one of the world’s major languages, German holds the largest number of native speakers within the European Union. It is a language which contains several standard dialects, both in its spoken and written forms. As an inflected language with three grammatical genders, it has a large number of words deriving from the same root.

hardest languages to learn (6 Finnish)

As a language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland, Finnish is hard to learn for its extremely complicated grammar and “endless derivative suffixes.” Finnish employs extensive modifiers to verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives and numerals, depending on their roles in the sentence.

hardest languages to learn (5 Japanese)

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken primarily in Japan. According to documents, Chinese had a considerable influence on the vocabulary and phonology of Old Japanese. Since 1945, it has borrowed a large number of words from English, especially vocabulary relating to technology. One major reason which makes the language so hard to learn is that the written code is different from the spoken code. In addition, Japanese has an extensive grammatical system to express politeness and formalities.


Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is the main language of Iceland. Icelandic is hard to learn because of its archaic vocabulary and complex grammar. Icelandic retains many grammatical features of other ancient Germanic languages, and modern Icelandic is still a heavily inflected language.

hardest languages to learn (3 Arabic)

Arabic, belonging to the Afro-Asiatic language family, includes both the literary language and varieties of Arabic spoken across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa. The language has a complex and unusual method in constructing words from a basic root. For instance, nouns in Literary Arabic have three grammatical cases, three numbers, two genders and three “states.”

hardest languages to learn (2 Greek)

As an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, the Greek language features the longest and most documented history. It is spoken mainly across Greece and Cyprus. Along its history, its syllabic structure has remained constant. It has a mixed syllable structure, allowing for relatively complex combinations of sounds. In addition, Greek possesses an extensive set of productive derivational affixes and a rich inflectional system.

hardest languages to learn (1 Chinese)

Chinese forms one of the branches of the Sino-Tibetan language family and over one billion people can name it as their native language. The relationship between the spoken and written Chinese language is rather complex. Its written form has no clues as to how it is actually pronounced. The tone system also is a pain because there are many homophones in Chinese only distinguishable by the four tones. Even this is often not enough unless the actual context and exact phrase are identified.


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