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HomeLanguage LearningThe Full Checklist of Language Problem Rankings 

The Full Checklist of Language Problem Rankings 

Studying Time: 5 minutes

You understand that good friend you may have that speaks three languages fluently—effortlessly even? They in all probability additionally get eight hours of sleep each night time, by no means misplace their keys, and hit the health club with out fail each morning at 5am, however that’s moreover the purpose. 

It’s okay to not be that particular person. For most individuals, language studying is deeply fulfilling, enjoyable, and a bit difficult. It takes time, self-discipline, and a nicely of motivation that you just’ll must refill. That’s why figuring out the problem stage of a language in relation to your native tongue could be helpful. 

Language problem rankings exist so you possibly can set the fluency objective posts at a sensible distance. On this publish, we’ll check out the best and hardest languages to study, the elements that decide language problem, and a whole rating of the world’s most generally spoken languages—together with how lengthy it takes to study every language. 

>> Dive proper in: Get the entire listing of languages ranked by problem

Figuring out language problem requires a hen’s eye view of how languages relate to one another. The Overseas Service Institute is a dependable business knowledgeable right here. With over 70 years of expertise educating languages to US authorities workers, they’ve compiled a complete and broadly accepted listing of language rankings. 

Their standards is essentially tied to the typical size of time it takes a scholar to study a language, which we’ll dive into within the subsequent part. For now, let’s check out the person parts of every language that have an effect on problem ranges: 

Linguistic Distance

In French, “the flower” interprets to “la fleur”. In Spanish, it’s “la flor”, and in Italian, it’s “il fiore.” Coincidence? Hardly. 

Once we discuss linguistic distance, we’re referring to the elemental variations between languages and the way or the place they’ve advanced from. Spanish, French, and Italian are all descendants of Latin and have many similarities. To see languages which might be carefully associated, we advocate diving into the world of language households, or teams of languages that each one share the identical mom language. 

In distinction to the similarities between the Romance languages listed above, German and Mandarin—two languages of various households with completely distinctive writing methods—couldn’t be extra linguistically distant. 

The takeaway right here is that the farther your native language is from the language you’re studying, the more difficult chances are you’ll discover your new language. 


In English, it’s acceptable to say that you just “purchased 5 books”. However to translate that very same assertion into Mandarin, you’ll want a measure phrase. Like a pack of wolves or a tank of fuel, “books” in Mandarin requires the phrase běn to point a unit of 5 books. This is only one instance of distinctive grammar guidelines that don’t exist in different languages. 

Grammar is usually a difficult one, even in your native language. In the event you’re searching for ease of studying, discovering a language with acquainted or easy-to-master grammar guidelines will help you tone down the language problem stage. 


Schlittschuhlaufen. That’s German for “ice skating.” German is usually preceded by its hard-to-master accent and enthusiastically lengthy vocabulary. It’s additionally ranked as one of many simpler languages to grasp, as you’ll see within the listing beneath. What’s the logic there? 

German and English belong to the identical Germanic language household, so their linguistic closeness wins out. And whereas mastering a German accent could be difficult, most audio system will perceive what you’re saying by way of the missteps. 

In the case of pronunciation, the true problem issue comes into play for tonal languages. These languages, which embody Vietnamese and Mandarin, require appropriate pronunciation and inflection to create that means for every phrase. Mandarin’s 4 distinct tones give the identical phrase “ma” 4 very totally different meanings. 

Writing system

As an English speaker, you’ll encounter three varieties of writing methods: 

  1. Languages that use the identical Latin alphabet you’ll discover in English
  2. Languages which have their very own distinctive alphabets
  3. Languages primarily based on distinctive writing methods 

Languages that fall within the first class are sometimes the simplest languages to study. Since you’re already acquainted with the alphabet, you may have an understanding of characters and most letter sounds. Strengthening your studying and writing abilities in that language, then, takes far much less time. 

The languages you’ll discover within the second class are reasonably difficult. You’ll must study a wholly new alphabet, and memorize their corresponding letter sounds. 

Nonetheless, there are languages that lack conventional alphabets. Mandarin, for instance, has a logosyllabic writing system through which characters match distinct syllables in every phrase. These are probably the most tough to study, as new learners will discover that studying by way of listening is way more accessible than studying by way of textual content (although Pinyin is altering the best way learners strategy the language). 

With over 7,000 languages spoken throughout the globe, it’s tough to rank all of them. This listing captures languages spoken by nearly all of the world’s inhabitants. 

The Overseas Service Institute consists of time estimates alongside their problem rankings, nevertheless it’s essential to notice that everybody’s language targets are totally different. The time estimates right here mirror how lengthy it could take the typical particular person to succeed in a Stage 3 proficiency stage, which is fairly fluent by most requirements. 

In case your targets align extra with a Stage 1 or 2 proficiency, you could possibly study a language even quicker. 

Class I Languages

It takes roughly 24-30 weeks (600-750 hours of apply) to succeed in skilled working proficiency in these languages. They’re very carefully associated to English, so most of the similar grammar guidelines and related vocabulary apply. 

Class II Languages

It takes roughly 36 weeks (900 hours of apply) to succeed in skilled working proficiency in these languages. Although German is in the identical household as English, its nuanced pronunciation provides it a better problem stage than different Germanic languages. 

  • German
  • Haitian Creole
  • Indonesian
  • Malay
  • Swahili

Class III Languages

It takes roughly 44 weeks (1100 hours of apply) to succeed in skilled working proficiency in these languages. You’ll discover that many of those languages don’t use the Latin alphabet. 

Albanian Latvian
Amharic Lithuanian
Armenian Macedonian
Azerbaijani Mongolian
Bengali Nepali
Bulgarian Polish
Burmese Russian
Czech Serbo-Croatian
Dari Sinhala
Estonian Slovak
Farsi Slovenian
Finnish Somali
Georgian Tagalog
Greek Tajiki
Hebrew Tamil
Hindi Telugu
Hungarian Thai
Icelandic Tibetan
Kazakh Turkish
Khmer Turkmen
Kurdish Ukrainian
Kyrgyz Urdu
Lao Uzbek

Class IV Languages

It takes roughly 88 weeks (2200 hours of apply) to succeed in skilled working proficiency in these languages. These languages are deeply nuanced, with complicated grammar and pronunciation guidelines. Don’t let their place on this listing deter you from diving proper in, although—we’ve constructed programs that will help you study rapidly and successfully! 

There’s no set timeline for the way lengthy it takes to study a language, however language problem rankings function helpful targets posts to information your journey. 

Studying a language is a marathon, not a dash. It’s the very last thing an keen language learner needs to listen to, nevertheless it’s additionally extremely priceless, making it simpler to remain motivated and disciplined. Simpler, too, to maintain your eye on the prize—your private language targets—always. 

Regardless of the problem stage of your new language, Rosetta Stone makes studying simple, efficient, and enjoyable. You may work at your individual tempo, or generate a customized plan primarily based in your targets to satisfy the timeline you keep in mind. The perfect time to begin studying a language is at the moment. See what you possibly can accomplish in only one lesson at



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