Not Just Mandarin, These are the Most Difficult Languages in the World!

5 minute read
Most Difficult Languages

What are the hardest and toughest languages in the world? Well, learning a new language can be tough but if the language you have chosen is already considered a complex and difficult one, then you are in for a true brain challenge! While Mandarin is considered one of the hardest languages in the world, there are many contenders on the list that are often underrated! In this blog, we have compiled a list of the 10 most difficult languages for language-lovers and polyglots who are constantly hustling to pick a new exciting language!

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1. Mandarin

Courtesy: Meme Center

Script: Chinese characters
Official Language: China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore
Speakers: 1.28 billion speakers

As mentioned before, Mandarin is unanimously considered the most difficult language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system. What makes Mandarin hard to grasp is the fact that it is a tonal language with thousands of characters and a mysterious writing system. Mandarin is not a phonetic language which means memorising the words and writing can be taxing. Merely looking up Chinese words in the dictionary is considered a skill in China that should tell you how tough the language is!

2. Arabic

difficult language
Courtesy: Pinterest

Script: Arabic script
Official Language: 26 countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen
Speakers: 300 million+ speakers

Arabic is the queen of poetic languages, the 6th official language of the UN and second on our list of toughest languages to learn. It is extremely popular in the Middle East and Africa with over 300 million speakers; Learning this language will expose you to some of the best literary works and historical writings. According to the Foreign Services Institute, it can take up to two years to learn Arabic. It is a hard language to wrap your brain around because of its numerous dialects, huge vocabulary (over 200 synonyms for the word camel!), right to left writing style, tough pronunciations and lack of vowels in the language. 

3. Telugu 

Courtesy: MEME

Script: Telugu script
Official Language: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India
Speakers: +75 million speakers

One of the most popular Dravidian languages in India; Telugu is native to states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in India and is listed amongst India’s 22 scheduled languages. Dubbed as the ‘Italian of the East’, Telugu is a melodious yet the difficult language for non-natives who have no understanding of Sanskrit or any other popular Southern Indian languages. A combination of factors makes the language tough for non-natives such as the script is hard to get used to and the pronunciation factor which can make the language difficult to understand. A fun way to familiarise yourself with the language is to watch movies and listen to Telugu songs!

4. Japanese

Courtesy: Pinterest

Script: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana
Official Language: Japan 
Speakers: +120 million

Japanese is another most difficult language for all those who have grown up learning English, Spanish or French but at the same time might be easy for those who are well-versed in East Asian languages. A language with no plural, Japanese is native to the people of Japan who take immense pride in their language and go to lengths to promote it! Japanese is a complex language due to its sentence structure, thousands of kanji characters and dozens of dialects!  

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5. Polish

Courtesy: Quickmeme

Script: Latin
Official Language: Poland 
Speakers: 50 million

The sixth most popular language in the European Union and recognised as a minority language in countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine and Lithuania. Polish is amongst the hardest languages to pick up in the world. Polish words are confusing and can be hard to pronounce for English speakers. Though the language uses the Latin script, it has some additional letters, a complex grammar freestyle system and relies heavily on consonants. Even though it can be seen as the most difficult language, mastering this language can open up a host of opportunities, from travelling to studying in Poland! 

6. Turkish

Courtesy: Pinterest

Script: Latin
Official Language: Turkey 
Speakers: 70 million

Turkish is an extremely popular language with a rich history and culture associated with it. It is native to Turkey and well-established in other countries like Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Greece. For non-native English speakers, this language can seem like the most difficult language that is strenuous and time-consuming because of its pronunciation, grammar and listening aspect. There are some positives like it uses Latin alphabets and it is a phonetic language.  

7. Russian

difficult languages
Courtesy: Meme Creator

Script: Cyrillic
Official Language: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan 
Speakers: 150 million

Russian is one of the most famous European languages with over 150 million speakers across the world. Learning Russian is quite an experience because of the intricate case and gender system, different grammatical rules and novel writing system. It is easy to make errors in pronunciation and spelling when learning this language. Thus, Russian can be considered as one of the most difficult language. However, Russian is a fun language to learn for all those who want to travel to Russia and learn about its history and culture! 

8. Vietnamese

most difficult languages
Courtesy: Twitter

Script: Latin
Official Language: Vietnam 
Speakers: 95 million speakers

Another difficult language to master; Vietnamese is a popular language in Vietnam and is recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic. It is easily the most complex language in this list for English speakers because it bears little similarity to Western languages. Vietnamese is a tonal language and has diverse dialects; its system of consonants, vowels, and syllables is also very tricky to decipher.

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9. Finnish

Courtesy: MEME

Script: Latin with Finnish alphabets
Official Language: Finland and Sweden 
Speakers: +5 million speakers

Finnish is the official language of European countries like Finland and Sweden and is known as one of the hardest languages to speak and learn because of its complex case and vowel systems, hard grammar rules and the fact that the language is very different from its Latin and Germanic counterparts. As a result, learning and mastering this language is extremely taxing yet rewarding.

10. Korean

most difficult languages
Courtesy: Amino Apps

Script: Hangul 
Official Language: South Korea and North Korea
Speakers: 75 million speakers

Korean is last on our list of most difficult languages because it might not be the toughest yet it is the trickiest language with complex grammar rules, own alphabets, sentence structure, and pronunciation. Although learning Korean is on every K-Pop lovers’ list these days, it is not a language you can learn easily. The reason being it requires dedication and constant practice to memorize 24 letters and their proper pronunciation.    

Hopefully, you enjoyed this list of difficult languages! Leave a comment below and let us what language you are planning to learn next. For more educational content, follow Leverage Edu on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. You can call our study abroad experts on 1800 572 000 to find out how the application process can be fast-tracked and streamlined!

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    1. Hi, Sir!
      English is a part of our lives now. It has never been so difficult that you can’t learn and make a career in it.
      For taking admission in any language course you can call us at 1800 57 2000!

    2. English is tricky! For sure! Not learning it, the hard part comes after you have memorised the alphabet and have a grasp on sentence structure.
      You get comfortable with the rules of grammar and then find out there are many ways to pronounce -ough.

    1. Hey Lynn,
      We are delighted to know that you found our article interesting. We always try our best to produce content that can help our readers and students to excel in their respective fields. Here are some more interesting reads that you can have a look upon:

  1. I was born in Finland and always suspected that Finnish is a most difficult language and now it has been confirmed!

    1. Hey! Finnish might be difficult but it is truly one of the most eloquent languages. Thank you for your feedback.

  2. Greetings!

    May be a research topic for you. In my opinion, Tamil is one of the oldest and difficult language to learn in India – Not Telugu, which is more modern.
    Once an aspirant crosses the barrier, Tamil rewards them with rich poems, dramas that are so melodious and deep meaning written thousands of years before.

  3. How about Cantonese? It uses 9 tones while Mandarin only uses 4. I’d say it’s far more difficult along with the fact that there are much more Mandarin learning resources rather than Cantonese learning resources locally.

  4. All languages are difficult but I think Korean language is easiest among the languages that I have been learn.I think,sentence structure of Korean Language is same of ours for learning easily.

  5. I’m absolutely shocked that the the language Basque it’s not mention. It is not spoken by millions unlike the other languages mentioned above because it is restricted to the area in the Western Pyrenees between Spain and France.

  6. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. Cheers