Ever wondered which is the most difficult language in the world? Well that depends on what languages you already speak.

It makes sense that languages which are more similar to your own native language are easier to learn. If you’ve ever been in a Spanish class with an Italian, for example, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Add a different alphabet or writing system and things get even more complicated. When we asked recently if Chinese is difficult the main conclusion was that the characters make things a lot harder.

This diagram gives an idea of which are the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn. It shows the length of US Foreign Service intensive language courses. (source: The Atlantic)

most difficult languages for English speakers

That’s right – it takes more than twice as long to learn Chinese or Arabic as Swahili.

For native English speakers this is not good news – apart from Spanish, the fastest growing languages both spoken and on the internet are some of the most difficult to learn.

Do you agree with this list? And, if English is not your native language which languages are most difficult for you?

Read More:
How difficult is Chinese?
Top 20 Languages of the World
Arabic dialects and their future
‘The awful German language’: experiences of a German student

About the author

Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.