How Can You Learn The English Language
You can learn the language from vast sources like television shows, movies, books, etc. You can also enroll in online courses or register for physical classes to learn the language. Furthermore, a really good way to grow is to build rapport with those who speak English fluently and communicate with them from time to time.
It Just Makes No Sense
One of the reasons why English is known for being difficult is because its full of contradictions. There are innumerable examples of conundrums such as:
- There is no ham in hamburger.
- Neither is there any apple nor pine in pineapple.
- If teachers taught, why didnt preachers praught?
- If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
- Overlook and oversee have opposite meanings, while look and see mean the same thing.
As native speakers, we rarely stop to think how illogical many of the things we say really are were just used to them. Unless youve been brought up speaking English, how can you possibly begin to learn all these oddities? Its little wonder that people trying to learn English end up feeling confused. But it gets worse.
Traces Of Archaic English
Though English does move with the times, there are still plenty of archaic words floating around that you may well encounter . Alas is one of the more common ones, but language of the sort traditionally used in the Bible is also still commonly understood, such as Thou shalt not kill in the Ten Commandments. This means You will not kill in modern lingo, but the Ten Commandments usually retain this old language. Old-fashioned words such as apothecary and shilling will crop up in historical dramas that you watch on television. Youll also see old literary and poetic references cropping up in popular culture, such as Shakespeares To be or not to be or Burns My love is like a red, red rose.
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Using The Foreign Service Institute List
The list below shows the estimated difficulty of other languages for native English speakers. And assuming the difficulty and time required to learn a language works two ways this is about the closest youll ever get to a realistic answer.
So, find your language, and look at the category:
Category I: 23-24 weeks
Languages closely related to English
Afrikaans, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Dutch, Romanian, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish.
Category II: 30 weeks
Languages similar to English
Published by the Foreign Service Institute.
Hardest Language To Learn #: Hungarian
Hungarian is considered a hard language by the US Foreign Service Institute.
Though it uses the Roman alphabet for writing, dont think that reading Hungarian will be a snap. Unique vowel sounds and consonant clusters make it difficult for English speakers to read and pronounce Hungarian.
Instead of articles, Hungarian conjugates verbs in one of two ways for definite and indefinite objects. Olvasok könyvet means I read a book, while Olvasom a könvyet is I read the book.
Because possession, tense, and number are indicated by suffixes, not word order in a sentence, Hungarian sentence structure is very loose and flexible. And while this may sound forgiving for a novice speaker, the truth is that any sentence can take on several meanings if the suffixes are altered slightly.
Learn more about the Hungarian language by checking out The 17 Funniest Hungarian Expressions on Matador Network.
A version of this article was previously published on February 24, 2011, and was updated on March 28, 2022.
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The Super Hard Languages
Japanese has three different written alphabets. The kanji alphabet has thousands of characters and must be written while following the correct order of symbol strokes. Japanese has a strict and complicated politeness system that must be followed.
Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese
Both of these languages from China use a complex, non-Latin alphabet with thousands of characters. Both are tone languages, or tonal languages, so the exact meaning of a word depends on how it is spoken. Speaking these languages fluently involves mastering very precise pronunciations that are going to be unfamiliar to an English language speaker.
Arabic is another language with a non-Latin alphabet. Though it consists of 28 characters, the complex Arabic script is still often said to be quite hard to learn. Arabic grammar is very different from English grammar, and Arabic is a highly gendered language. Finally, written Arabic often excludes the vowels, making an already difficult challenge that much harder for English speakers.
Korean is yet another language that uses a non-Latin alphabet with many characters. Korean grammar and sentence structure is completely different from English, which will cause many new learners to struggle. Lastly, Korean has complex pronunciation rules and has a strict rule of honorifics and politeness similar to Japanese.
Is English The Hardest Language To Learn
No. English may be hard to learn, but it is not the most difficult to learn. Other tricky languages are Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic. But the hardest of them all is the Chinese Mandarin language because it has four tones. This means that you can pronounce one word in four different ways, each with different meanings.
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There Are Lots Of Rules
In the English language, as with many other languages, there are a lot of rules for new speakers to learn. And these rules arent just applied to one area of the language either from grammatical rules to learning how to spell longer words, there are a lot for you to try and learn.
But, and perhaps, most confusingly, these rules often get changed, refuted, or can just simply be wrong, depending on the word or phrase youre trying to say or spell.
For example, one of the most confusing yet widely used rules in the English language is: I before E, except after C.
When it comes to spelling lots of words, such as friend, believe, receive and conceive, the rule stands true. However, there are many exceptions where the rulebook is thrown out the window, such as science, achieve, and weird.
Yet, the confusion doesnt stop there. When it comes to the construction of sentences or even which nouns, verbs, objects and pronouns to use, there are several confusing rules to understand.
One rule thats embedded into students early-on in their English learning is the Me vs. I rule, which states that you should use the pronoun “I” in sentences when the person speaking is doing the action, either alone or with someone else. But, you should use the pronoun “me” when the person speaking is receiving the action of the verb in some way, either directly or indirectly.
How Arabic Is Beautiful But Difficult
Why learn Arabic?
Arabic is popularly considered one of the most beautiful spoken languages, mostly because its also one of the most ancient. Learning Arabic will give you valuable insight into the culture. There are also quite a few variations to this language, so youll never stop learning.
What makes it difficult?
The biggest drawback for Arabic they have very few words in common with English, whereas with other Germanic languages you might recognise the odd noun or adjective. Also, like many of the other languages that rank on this list, Arabic uses a different alphabet.
Arabic is considered by linguists as diglossic, which means there is one version for reading and writing, and another for use in conversation and the spoken form. Bear this in mind when you start to build your learning resources, making sure you give focus to both sides of the language.
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Is English A Hard Language
Tip: See my guide to the Most Common Pronunciation Errors in English. It will teach you about commonly mispronounced words, pronunciation patterns, and the basics of English phonology.
This question may be somewhat controversial, but, in my opinion, English is a very hard language to learn. When speaking about difficulty, people generally tend to think only about some aspects of the language in question leaving out the rest. For example, people often say that Chinese is extremely difficult because you have to learn thousands of different characters, or that Slavic languages are difficult because of all the declensions. However, I think that its actually a combination several different aspects of English that makes it difficult.
Some people say that English has complicated grammatical rules, but this really isnt the case. For example, the verb to be has the most forms an English verb can possible have: be, am, are, is, were, was, been, and being .
On the other hand, French être has 40 different forms! . Conjugation of verbs is much easier in English than in probably any other Indo-European language.
Similarly, English has no genders and only three different articles or five, if you count the stressed variants separately. The form of articles doesnt change according to the function of the noun in a sentence. Compare the two following sentences in English and in German:
Tips For Mastering Difficult To Learn Languages
Although learning a new language might seem intimidating, it can actually be fun and easy if you have the right resources and support!
Our number one tip for learning any new language is to study abroad in a country that speaks that language so that you can get practical, real-world experience. Studying abroad is proven to be one of the best ways to completely immerse yourself in a language and improve your skills more quickly. From talking to your host family, to ordering off a menu at a restaurant, to listening to the news on the radio you will be gaining practice and learning new vocabulary every single day, both inside and outside of the classroom.
In terms of specific studying tips, the 3 x 3 method is one of the best ways to build your language skills quickly. This method uses any kind of audio or video with subtitles or a written transcript that you can turn off and on. Here are the basic steps to follow:
First, watch and listen to the video a few times without the subtitles turned on.
Next, listen a few more times with subtitles turned on, and try to read the words while the person is speaking them. You can pause the video to look up phrases or words that you dont understand. To improve your speaking skills, you can even read the words out loud along with the person in the video and try to mimic their pronunciation.
For best results, repeat this entire process with several videos about similar topics.
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English Has A Large Vocabulary
English has a lot of wordsWebsters English Dictionary includes approximately 470,000 entries, and its estimated that the broader English vocabulary may include around a million words. Thats a lot of new vocabulary to learn, which raises the bar for true language mastery.
English has such a broad vocabulary because its a blend of several different root languages. While English is a West Germanic language in its sounds and grammar, much of the vocabulary also stems from Romance languages, such as Latin, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
One result of combining these various root languages is that the English vocabulary includes a ton of synonyms, or different words that essentially mean the same thing. For example, the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus includes more than 275,000 synonyms, antonyms, and related words. And unfortunately, most of these synonyms arent fully interchangeable, so the exact word you choose does have an impact on the overall meaning. For example, calling your friend trustworthy has a slightly different connotation than calling them reliable.
And in addition to these complex roots, the English language is ever-evolving. With an estimated 1.5 billion English speakers around the world, the language is constantly shifting and expanding every day.
The Correct Word Order Can Be Hard To Explain
Example: Its a little fierce cat, versus Its a fierce little cat. The second one just sounds right if youre an English speaker, and if theres a rule somewhere, I dont know it. If you were to say Its a big fierce cat, it wouldnt sound wrong at all.
I sometimes collaborate with a Dutch lady who is an excellent researcher, but I always have to change her wording. If I know why, I add a comment so that she can learn, but quite often, I cant explain why I made certain changes.
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Spelling Is A Poor Indicator Of Pronunciation
In terms of spelling, the good news is that all words in English are made up of the same 26 letters. The bad news is that many times, even knowing these letters cant help you predict how certain words are pronounced.
There are many strange inconsistencies in English that can be very confusing, like when the same exact combination of letters isnt pronounced the same way across different words. For example, rough, though, and through are all pronounced differently.
Then, to make things even more complicated, there are homophonesfor example, through and threw are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently, and they mean different things.
And finally, there are many heteronyms, or words that are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and different meanings. For example, wind can be either a noun that means moving air or a verb that means to turn.
If youre trying to learn how to read and write in English, or even just master a good amount of vocabulary, these illogical intricacies will certainly pose a challenge.
Hardest Language To Learn #: Mandarin
Mandarin is considered a super-hard language by the US Foreign Service Institute.
Mandarin, like Cantonese, is a tonal language, and a misused inflection can change the meaning of a sentence. The syllable ma can mean mother or horse, depending on the inflection, which could lead to grave insults at the dinner table.
Grammatically, Mandarin is far simpler than Indo-European languages. Words, for the most part, have only one grammatical form. Their function is shown through prepositions, word order, and particles. Building and comprehending this syntax, however, takes time. There are some tough elements like Mandarin adverbs: a dozen words which have no direct English translation.
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Inflection Changes Words Meaning
Inflection is the process of changing the form of a word or adding suffixes to a word. It means that you have to know the meaning of the word and know how to change the form of the word.
For example, the word himself refers to the possessive form of the word him.
Or the word smartest means most intelligent and smart literally means clever, as well as flower glass refers to a glass that is used to grow flowers.
What Really Makes It Hard: Personal Context
I’ve said this before, but the hardest language in the world for me was Spanish. This is usually way up there for many people as the easiest , and yet for me it was harder than Hungarian, and even Japanese and Chinese paled in comparison to the challenge Spanish posed to me.
And yet, many people reading this will be absolutely sure that Spanish is easier than other languages. What made it hard was not the conjugations, subjunctive, accents etc.
It was me.
I made Spanish hard I had the wrong attitude, I studied in such a way as to focus on what made it so impossible, when I tried to speak it I would constantly think how stupid I sounded and I kept reminding myself how hard it was.
The fact of the matter is if you tell yourself the language is the hardest one in the world you are right! That mantra will keep you locked in an inescapable feedback loop that will make it the hardest language. You will set your filter to negative and find many reasons that support your claim.
German was also hard for me the first time I tried to learn it. I was bad at in school, I hated hearing the words accusative, nominative and I wasn’t motivated to really try. If you force me to learn a language I don’t want to learn, I will inevitably dislike it and feel that it’s hard. This is as true for me now as it was then.
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Why You Shouldnt Fear Learning A Hard Language
Learning these languages may be difficult for English speakers, but that doesnt mean you shouldnt try. There are plenty of good reasons to take on the challenge.
First, you should learn a language because youre interested in it, not just because its easy. Having a concrete goal you want to achieve, like being able to talk to family members or watching Korean dramas in their original language, will help you stick with your new tongue.
Second, theres a lot of professional demand for people who can speak these languages, and their difficulty means fewer English speakers are willing to learn them. If you overcome that barrier, itll help you stand out as a job candidate, and may even open up work opportunities you couldnt have gotten otherwise.
Finally, just because a language is hard to learn doesnt mean its impossible. While speaking English as your native language may make certain aspects of these languages hard to grasp, it can also help in other ways. Plus, as the most spoken language on Earth, English has plenty of resources for learning other languages.
And Writing Rules Are On A Whole Other Level
There are so many different grammatical structures and rules that need to be followed when writing. From applying to the Oxford Comma in lists to using conjunctions to link ideas together in sentences, there are a whole variety of rules for new speakers to acquaint themselves with.
One of the strangest written rules is the capitalisation of the English pronoun, I. When we examine different English pronouns, including me, you, they, she and they, it is only the pronoun I, which is written in capital letters, regardless of its form. Why? Well, no one really knows.
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