Most Difficult Languages in the world

Have you ever wondered which language tops the list of the most difficult languages in the world?  

If so, you’re on the right track! In this article, we’ll explore the world’s hardest language to learn. We’ll also learn why some languages are tougher to learn than others and uncover which one takes the crown as the most difficult language in the world 

There are thousands of languages spoken worldwide, nearly 6,900 different tongues. Asia, in particular, boasts the highest diversity, with around 2,197 languages, while Europe contributes approximately 230 languages.  

Some of the hardest languages to learn are known for their complex writing systems, such as Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese. These languages feature intricate scripts with thousands of characters or symbols. Language like Finnish and Cantonese also challenge learners with complex grammatical structures, including extensive case systems and verb conjugations.  

Tonal languages like Mandarin Chinese add another layer of difficulty, as the meaning of words can change based on tone. So, what’s the hardest language in the world? According to many experts, it’s Mandarin Chinese.  

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Top 10 Most Difficult & Hardest Languages in the World  

  1. Mandarin 
  2. Arabic 
  3. Korean 
  4. Japanese 
  5. Cantonese 
  6. Hungarian 
  7. Finnish 
  8. Polish 
  9. Russian 
  10. Icelandic 


1.) Mandarin  

Mandarin Chinese, with around 1.4 billion speakers, when counting solely native speakers, is the most widely spoken language in the world. It’s also often acknowledged that learning Mandarin is the most difficult language in the world, but why? 

First, there are more than 50,000 characters in Mandarin, as opposed to the well-known 26-letter Roman alphabet! It is also impossible to pronounce these letters simply by looking at them since they are not phonetic. This simply indicates that it is the learner’s responsibility to retain all of their meanings.  

In addition to written Mandarin, speaking the language orally can be quite difficult. Because there are four tones in the language, a word’s meaning might vary depending on how it is spoken. All these complications made this language the hardest language to learn.  


2.) Arabic  

Arabic is an official language in more than 20 nations, primarily in the Middle East and Africa. Although Arabic is the native language of over 372 million people, one of the challenges with speaking it is the variety of regional dialects, some of which differ significantly from one another.   

Similar to other languages, learning Arabic scripts can be challenging. The script has a comparatively low learning curve because it only consists of 28 letters!   

In addition, it requires some getting accustomed to because it is written from right to left on a page. Additionally, learners find pronunciation to be rather difficult due to the absence of vowel sounds and the necessity of using the back of the throat while sounding out words. All this makes it one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn.


3.) Korean  

Korean is an East Asian language spoken by over 80 million people in North as well as South Korea. Despite not being as studied as Chinese or Japanese, it’s an exquisite language with what is regarded as the world’s finest sensible writing system.   

Why? Actually, in 1443, King Sejong the Great developed the Korean script. His goal was to create an easier-to-use writing system that was tailored to the Korean language. He organized a group of academics that created the “Hangul” alphabet, which is still in use today. There are simply 24 symbols in Hangul, 10 of which are vowels and 14 of which are consonants.   

However, because of variations in word order and double consonant and vowel sounds, learning Korean is still likely to be difficult for native English speakers despite the relatively simple writing system.  

Learning tens of thousands of Sino-Korean vocabulary terms derived from Hanja Chinese characters is still difficult in Hangul, which is thus the toughest language in the world.  


4.) Japanese  

Japanese, the national language of Japan, is regarded as one of the world’s hardest languages to learn for English speakers to master.

Mandarin and Japanese learners face comparable challenges since initial comprehension of the former requires memorizing thousands of characters, while the other language does not. Learning this language is indeed quite difficult.

Although the pronunciation of Mandarin and Japanese characters differs significantly, they have several similarities. The three writing systems used in Japanese, Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, make learning the language more difficult.  

Keigo,” or polite speech, is another element of Japanese culture that might be challenging to understand. A basic term like “you” might have 10 translations, depending on the context and the person you speak to.  

The easiest characters for novices to learn are Hiragana and Katakana, which they must master before learning Kanji.   


5.) Cantonese  

Cantonese, which is spoken by millions of people both natively and non-natively, is another of the most difficult languages in the world for foreign students to learn. The vocabulary, syntax, tone, voice, and writing of this toughest language in the world are all difficult.   

Given that Cantonese is also extensively spoken in many study locations, it’s critical to recognize that Mandarin and Cantonese are two distinct languages. Learners can become fluent in the language in around two years because of its intricate grammar, large vocabulary, and range of tones.  

Learners of Cantonese acquire the ability to interpret thousands of logographic characters and manipulate spoken words using eight tones. Students find Cantonese more difficult since it has more tones than Mandarin, which only has four.  


6.) Hungarian  

Hungarian, also known as Magyar, is the sixth most difficult language to learn in the world. Unlike its neighboring European languages, Hungarian stands out for its distinctiveness. With its 26 letters and intricate grammar rules, mastering Hungarian can be quite the challenge.  

This language, originating from nomadic tribes across Asia and Europe, has evolved over time with influences from various cultures and languages, resulting in a rich vocabulary.  

Hungarian earns its reputation as one of the world’s hardest language to learn due to several factors:  

Firstly, its grammar allows for the addition of numerous components to a single word, significantly altering its meaning within a sentence.    

Additionally, Hungarian boasts a whopping 44 letters, including 9 vowels and 17 cases, making its script challenging to grasp. Furthermore, being a phonetic language, pronunciation plays a crucial role, adding another layer of difficulty.  

Hungarians exhibit significant influence from other languages, leading to considerable variability in interpretation for non-native speakers. As a result, navigating Hungarian can be quite a challenge for those unfamiliar with its nuances.  


7.) Finnish  

Finnish and Swedish are the main languages spoken in Finland and Sweden. They’re considered the hardest languages to learn, ranking as the 7th hardest languages in the world. Finnish is known for its tricky vocabulary and grammar rules. But if you manage to overcome those challenges, becoming fluent in Finnish can be really satisfying.  

Finnish has 29 letters in its alphabet. When you’re learning Finnish, about 30% of the words you encounter will be completely new, while the other 70% have roots in ancient languages called Proto-Uralic languages. Plus, Finnish has taken words from many other languages, like English, Greek, and French, which can make things even more complicated.  

One interesting thing about Finnish is that it doesn’t have a future tense, which might seem strange if you’re used to languages that do. Also, instead of having its own special writing system, Finnish uses the Latin alphabet, which English and many other languages use. There are 15 different cases to learn, which adds a whole new layer of complexity to the language.  


8.) Polish  

Polish is known as one of the world’s toughest languages, ranking eighth in difficulty. It’s the official language of Poland and is widely spoken among over 40 million people worldwide.    

There are a few reasons why Polish is considered the hardest language to learn list.

Firstly, there are a whopping 14 cases, compared to just 2 in English. This means there are lots of different ways words change depending on how they’re used in a sentence. For non-native speakers, it can take around six months just to get the basics down.  

Being a Slavic language, Polish can seem especially tricky for those not familiar with it. However, for English speakers, there are some similarities in the alphabet and sounds, particularly with vowels. But for those whose first language isn’t English, like speakers of Chinese or Korean, Polish can be a real challenge to wrap their heads around.  

So, while Polish may be somewhat less daunting for English speakers, it’s still considered one of the most difficult languages in the world, especially for those with no connection to English.  


9.) Russian  

With a staggering 300 million speakers worldwide, Russian stands as one of the most widely spoken languages globally. While it may not pose much of a challenge for Eastern European speakers, learning Russian can be quite daunting for English speakers. Yet, it holds significant value, especially if you plan to travel to that region.  

One of the biggest hurdles for learners is the Russian alphabet, written in Cyrillic script, which can appear intricate and unfamiliar to those accustomed to the Latin alphabet. Pronunciation, too, presents its own set of challenges. However, Russian is also a phonetic language, meaning words are generally pronounced as they are spelled.   


10.) Icelandic  

Icelandic is the language spoken in Iceland, a country in the North Atlantic. It’s quite different from English in a few ways. Firstly, Icelandic has a complex grammar system with four cases. Cases are like different versions of words that show how they’re used in a sentence. For example, a noun in Icelandic can change its form depending on whether it’s the subject, object, or possessive.  

Secondly, Icelandic has a lot of declensions. This means that words can change their endings to show gender, number, and case. This can be tricky for English speakers because English has few declensions.  

Lastly, Icelandic has some old-fashioned words and pronunciations that can be hard to learn. Some words in Icelandic come from Old Norse, the language of the Vikings, and they sound different from modern English words.   



Exploring the top 10 most difficult languages in the world is like embarking on an intriguing journey through the intricacies of human communication.  

From Mandarin Chinese to Icelandic, each of these difficult languages offers its own set of obstacles and treasures.  

Though mastering these languages may pose difficulties, the journey is incredibly enriching, granting access to diverse cultures and unforgettable experiences.  

So, let’s embrace the challenge, immerse ourselves in the realm of language acquisition, and uncover the beauty of these extraordinary difficult languages in the world!  

And if you’re looking to explore languages that are a bit more approachable, consider exploring the German, French, or Spanish language with Kochiva.

Their Foreign language courses offer a fantastic opportunity to expand your linguistic horizons and connect with the world in a whole new way. 

Visit our website or contact us today to learn more about our foreign language programs and unlock the potential of language learning!


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Frequently Asked Questions:

1.) Which are the top 10 hardest languages in the world?

According to various language experts and studies, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Russian, Polish, and Cantonese are among the top 10 hardest languages in the world.  

2.) Why are these hardest languages in the world considered difficult?

 These languages are considered difficult due to several reasons. They often have complex grammar structures, challenging writing systems, intricate pronunciation rules, and significant differences from other languages. Additionally, some languages, like Mandarin Chinese, are tonal, where the meaning of words changes based on tone, adding another layer of complexity.  

3.) Is it worth learning these hardest languages in the world?

Yes, it can be incredibly rewarding to learn these challenging languages. Not only does it open up opportunities for communication with native speakers, but it also provides insights into different cultures, enhances cognitive abilities, and can improve career prospects, especially in global industries.  

4.) What are the 15 Most Difficult Languages in the World to Learn?

While there isn’t a universally agreed-upon ranking for the 15 hardest languages to learn, some languages often mentioned for their difficulty include Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Russian, Polish, Georgian, Thai, Vietnamese, Czech, Greek, and Navajo.  

5.) Which is the hardest language in India?

One of the most difficult languages in the world to learn in India is often considered to be Telugu. It has a complex grammatical structure, unique phonetic sounds, and a rich literary tradition, making it difficult for non-native speakers to master. 

6.) Are there any online learning materials available for these languages?

Yes, there are plenty of online resources available to learn these difficult languages. Platforms like YouTube have numerous tutorials and language learning channels dedicated to teaching grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. It’s also beneficial to explore language learning apps and websites that offer interactive exercises, quizzes, and flashcards to reinforce learning.