Language difficulty

Some languages for English speakers:

Very easy to read. Difficult to very difficult in terms of listening comprehension. Average to difficult in spoken and written output.

Easy to read. Very easy listening comprehension. Easy spoken output. Average to difficult written output.

Very easy to read. Easy listening comprehension.

Very easy to read. Can be difficult for listening comprehension. Very easy to write.

Very easy to read. Very easy listening comprehension. Very easy to speak.

I base this on personal experience.

I grade things as easy to listen to if they are somewhat regular and somewhat pronounced in spoken form like in written form (Spanish, German, Italian) and hard if not. They are easy to read because there are loads of cognates and shared vocabulary. Sentence structure is very similar (almost identical in Norwegian, very close in French and slightly different with multiple clauses in German) making it easy to decipher messages.

Feel free to chip in with languages you have experience of.

“…German. Easy to read…”

Thomas Mann, Carl Zuckmayer…who could possibly say that they are hard to read? :-0

Every language has its difficult reads.

" Easy to read. Very easy listening comprehension. Easy spoken output. Average to difficult written output."

It´s good to read that…I intend to learn German soon.

If I’d rate my experiences on a scale of 1 to 10.

1 - easy
10 - difficult

English: reading and listening 3. Writing and speaking: 5
German: reading 6. Listening and writing 7. Speaking 8.
Azeri: reading and listening 1. Writing and speaking 2.
Spanish: reading 4. writing 5. speaking 6. listening 7.
Dutch: reading 3. writing 5. listening 6. speaking 6?.
Uzbek: reading, writing and listening 2. speaking 3.
Turkmen: reading 2. writing 3. Speaking 4?. listening 5?.
Qirimtatar: reading and listening 2. writing 3 and speaking 3?.

The cases are annoying if you study those silly tables associated with German but the language itself is very easy to hear in terms of word separation when people talk.

“…those silly tables associated with German…”



Even though I don’t know the other languages in your list, my feeling is that French should definitely be one of the hardest when it comes to listening comprehension. I think the number of homophones is way bigger than English. They also cut lots of words when speaking. The guy in the video which I posted the link below summarizes this quite well by saying “French people try to get rid of the letter ‘e’ as often as they can.” Besides, the difference between written language and oral language in French is significantly larger than that of English. Not saying “ne” and “il” in some contexts can be understandable to some extent, but adding unnecessary words like “moi”, “toi”, “là”, “quoi” at the end of sentences as in “C’est important, ça”, “Je sais pas, moi” is a very common thing. And on top of all this, they sprinkle lots of nonsensical words like “hein”, “bon”, “bah”, “enfin” when they talk which can be pain in the ass for French learners. For more information, these two links are very useful in this regard:

I read French fluently yet i can often not understand something i can read perfectly when i hear it spoken. I studied German once years ago and i hear every single word in German when i listen to it.

I thought so until I moved to Bavaria :slight_smile:


Well, obviously i mean regular High German. For some reason when you say something about a language here on LingQ people assume you are talking about and including every single possible native speaker and dialect.

Saying French is hard would obviously not count someone who speaks insanely slowly and enunciates every word, the same as saying German is easy doesn’t count an 80 year old Bavarian farmer.

We’re talking in general here. On average. Run of the mill. Normal.

I have problems understanding 45-65 years old Bavarian (not only) programmers.

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Ben c’est pas faux tout ça quoi. Allez je peux pas te donner de rose mais c’est tout comme hein.


“…I studied German once years ago and i hear every single word in German when i listen to it…”

It’s the same with me. I once took a course in Mongolian and now I can understand every single word.

I’m also a graduate of three universities, an ace card player, a crack pistol shot and a lover of many women :slight_smile:

(Hey, one of those boasts is even true…)

You could point to an academic writer of any language though, and claim that it’s difficult. I would say reading is relatively easy, but I don’t agree that listening is “very easy” as OP said. The huge regional differences can make listening to every-day speech kinda challenging.

Out of all the posts I see in language learning forums, this kind is the one i dislike the most. I find it so presumptuous in some kind of way. Even if I use my mother language as a base, a neo-latin one, I am never able to say if that or this one is easy to read, or listening…

I guess we’re all individuals at the end of the day. Something that person A finds quite hard may be easy (or easier) for person B…

There is probably a wide spectrum of language learners, ranging from a genius types like DrewPeacock, who typically reach near native level in several languages after a couple of weeks study, through to people who could put in countless hours of toil over several years yet still have the level of a punch-drunk terrapin…

This can be hard even for a native German speaker :wink: