What's the most difficult language YOU have studied?

Everybody is going to be different, there is no official criteria, but what language, and what aspect of that language, was most challenging for your brain to get a handle on. Also mention what your native language is.

Right now, German is really beating me up for me, a native english speaker, which may sound surprising.

Everyone says german is easy for english speakers because it is closely related, but it hasn’t been the case for me. I have actually found it more head scratching than japanese. I don’t know why, but my brain just likes japanese. It seems so logical, concise, and straightforward. I felt like i was able to pick things up from the context much quicker despite the grammar. And the fact that the verb conjugation is totally REGULAR and non gender oriented make it so much simpler.

In german, cases, sentence order, the idiomatic/ambiguous nature of expressions. The fact that that literal translations are never useful for most all of expressions we have, despite many words being similar sounding. It is very difficult to interpret and think the way a German would. I imagine this isn’t unique to german and many languages are like this, but it has been giving me the most headaches. Arabic was probably harder overall because of the time it took to learn the pronunciation, the script, the way their sentences work,(it took me a long time) but it hasn’t been this befuddling to me comprehending once you get to full speed listening of content. It’s just unexpected because german typically comes up as one of the easier languages to learn for english speakers, it hasn’t been the case for me.

What was the hardest language YOU have learned? It seems to be that most people say it’s their first language or their first non indo europen language. Chinese and Arabic typically come up as the hardest, and some people say japanese but that’s because of the kanji.


Hardest would have to be English.

At it for so many decades now, and still sound like a farm-bred Australian.


I’ll bite, though honestly aside from Russian I’ve mostly only dabbled in a number of languages, not enough to get to the “hard” parts, necessarily. The one that I had the most exposure to was Latin, which I took for two years in high school, and that’s the one I’ll nominate here.

Did anyone ever really manage to speak classical Latin? Being a fully inflected Indo-European language, it has a lot of similarity to Russian in the concepts if not the details. But whereas Russian has 2 noun declensions (the way I reckon things), Latin has 5. Russian verbs present challenges, certainly, but they’re nothing like Latin with, if I recall correctly, 6 tenses, each with 6 forms by person and number. Add voices and aspects and on and on, and you can wrap your pluperfect in your future perfect and stick it you-know-where!

The one thing Latin may have going for it is a lack of native speakers yammering away at a mile-a-minute. (If you don’t count as “native speakers” those old Jesuits I had as teachers. :wink: On the other hand, being frozen and “dead” may tend to lead instruction down the grammar-oriented analytic path typically eschewed by Lingqers.

You mention Arabic. I had 2 semesters of classes, one night per week, in an adult continuing-education not-for-credit setting. I very much enjoyed it, but it ended just as we were getting to verb conjugation. The introduction to conjugation that we did get into did not bode anything too scary, but I can’t comment authoritatively since that’s where it ended for me. I will say that any noun not ending in ta’-marbuta having an irregular, hence unknowable plural seems rather daunting.


I studied it for a number of years and became somewhat literate in it. English, after all, was heavily influenced by French after the Norman Conquest. But being able to speak it? I don’t think I could mangle a language quite so utterly as French.

Polish, it costs me alot more time than any other language I’ve studied before.

The English language might be the easiest and most difficult language for native speakers of Japanese.
Articles and phrasal verbs are difficult to master.


So far for me the most difficult was and is modern Greek. However now I am happy that I discovered lingq because learning with lingq is much easier and also so much fun.

I tried learning French for many years without much success, but then I ran out of motivation. I am finding learning Russian much easier! Why? Because I have the resources of LiNGQ and the Internet now and I am highly motivated. I have a good reason to learn Russian and furthermore, I actually enjoy learning it.


Yes, the motivation is very important for studying every new language.


Nihongo ga tanoshi desu! Suki Desu! My brain really likes Japanese grammar for some reason. No genders, REGULAR verbs, straight to the point, easy to understand from the context. Not so many arbitrary rules other than politeness (I haven’t gotten to learning honorific speech at this point). Great language!

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I have invested time in German, Russian, and Chinese, but I have only learned German to a good level. I think Chinese at the beginning seemed quite easy because I was able to produce the language with little effort given the simple grammar. On the other hand, Russian is really tough at the beginning, and has remained tough for the entire time. German felt really difficult at the beginning given the grammar, but later on got much easier.

In my experience, the most difficult language is always the one you’re trying to learn right now

I am not sure. In my experience, it is easier to learn a language when I try.

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You speak the truth. The other saying I like about language learning: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

For me, Hindi.
I didnt even get far before I changed because everyone kept telling me I should learn how to learn before
taking on something like hindi, or arabic.
I somewhat agreed too, i didnt know how to learn the material.
So i went to another lanugage I always wanted to learn, Spanish.

Yeah, the difficulty of French for an English speaker is underrated. Clearer beginnings and endings to words in other languages makes a big difference.

I think people try French thinking oh, English is related to it and it’s a romance language but I swear I can hear where words begin and end in Italian and German without studying them. With French that takes a long time.

My first language that I can honestly say I have a decent hold on is Biblical Hebrew. My first language I tried, was Spanish in High School, and the teacher literally told me, I would never learn a foreign language. As she put it, your brain just can’t handle it. Needless to say, I believed her. When I got to College, nearly every degree at my University required 2 years of a foreign language, and I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t want to try Spanish again, because I didn’t (at the time) care about learning it. I wanted to learn Chinese, and I figured if I was going to suck at any language I might as well learn one I want to learn. So I took Chinese. I got through it, albeit poorly in school, I still got through my 2 years. When I decided I wanted to do an MA, I realized I didn’t have any of the languages needed for the degree, so I figured even if I sucked at Chinese, I at least learned ways that worked for me, and ways that didn’t. I learned I needed Ancient (Koine) Greek and Hebrew to be a successful MA student in my area, and so I started taking Greek over the summer at my school. This was an intensive course, where in 7 weeks we go over a year of Greek material. While I needed Koine Greek, the class was taught in Attic Greek (little more difficult, but would significantly help one with Koine). I walked into the course thinking that I would be okay as I had learned some basic Chinese (Supposedly the hardest language which now I realize is nowhere near the case), and it ended up being my most difficult class in all of college. To end my story, I walked out of this class thinking that Ancient Greek was officially the most difficult class I had ever studied. This is true for me to this day. I have a Bachelors in Philosophy, and a BA in Religion, and I am pursuing a Masters now in Religion. I thought that it would be cool to read Plato in Greek, quite frankly today, even though I enjoy Plato, I could careless about reading it in Greek. I have very little interest in studying Greek anymore because it left a foul taste in my mouth. Today from the different languages I have learned, I still think Greek was the most difficult. It was a language taught poorly at my school, and a language that is grammatically fairly difficult. In comparison the languages I have studied: Biblical Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese, Classical/Literary Chinese, Phoenician (realistically almost identical to Hebrew), Imperial Aramaic, Attic Greek, and Hittite. I agree with many on this blog, that the truth of the matter is, a language for the most part is either difficult or easy based upon the interest one has with the language. I am most interested in learning Mandarin Chinese, and now it is becoming more fun to study it. My grasp of Classical Chinese is also fairly good after only a year of study.

Now I also recognize that similarity to a language that you speak already helps in the difficulty of learning a language. So that was also one of the reasons that Ancient Greek was so difficult for me. I think Latin would also be fairly difficult, but now after having studied Hittite, and a basic understanding of Attic Greek, I think that learning Latin (or for that matter going back to Greek) would be much easier now. I hope this gives you an idea of my personal learning experience, it doesn’t mean that it would be the same for you, but I think you are asking just to see what other people have experienced.

Right now Languages that I am decent at: Biblical Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese (still only an early Intermediate level), and arguably Classical Chinese.
Unfortunately, I am nowhere near an expert in any of these languages, but I will be one day as I look forward to the effort eventually paying off.

Anyways, have a good one.
-Cody C.

Dude, SOV languages are always the hardest. As soon as i saw hindi was SOV I ran for the hills.

I will admit that I wouldn’t have struggled so much with arabic in the beginning if I had previous experience learning a language. That shit was HARD at first.