Language Difficulty Ranking

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has created a list to show the approximate time you need to learn a specific language as an English speaker. After this particular study time you will reach “Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3)” and “Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3)”

Please keep in mind that this ranking only shows the view of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and some language students or experts may disagree with the ranking.

If there is a language in this list you would like to learn and it is in a high difficult category, don’t let this stop you from learning it. Even if they are ranked as difficult, it does not mean that they are impossible to learn and maybe it is not hard for you at all. We offer many tips on how to best learn a language that will surely help you to tackle even the most difficult language on this list.

Additionally, we also offer free language lessons for the most popular languages and a Top 10 language app overview with all currently available professional language products on the market with reviews by us and our readers.

Category I: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)
Languages closely related to English
Afrikaans
Danish
Dutch
French
Italian
Norwegian
Portuguese
Romanian
Spanish
Swedish
Category II: 30 weeks (750 hours)
Languages similar to English
German 
Category III: 36 weeks (900 hours)
Languages with linguistic and/or cultural differences from English
Indonesian
Malaysian
Swahili
Category IV: 44 weeks (1100 hours)
Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English
Albanian
Amharic
Armenian
Azerbaijani
Bengali
Bosnian
Bulgarian
Burmese
Croatian
Czech
*Estonian
*Finnish
*Georgian
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
*Hungarian
Icelandic
Khmer
Lao
Latvian
Lithuanian
Macedonian
*Mongolian
Nepali
Pashto
Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
Polish
Russian
Serbian
Sinhala
Slovak
Slovenian
Tagalog
*Thai
Turkish
Ukrainian
Urdu
Uzbek
*Vietnamese
Xhosa
Zulu
Category V: 88 weeks (2200 hours)
Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers
Arabic
Cantonese (Chinese)
Mandarin (Chinese)
*Japanese
Korean
* Languages preceded by asterisks are usually more difficult for native English speakers to learn than other languages in the same category.

45 thoughts on “Language Difficulty Ranking”

  1. My mother language is Persian and I have to say we have the hardest language in the world because lots of slangs is invented every day and we even can’t recognize the other cities speakers accent
    And I think this text has been written from an western man vision
    Because Turkish and Arabic is so easy for us and my opinion is exactly against the writer from my vision

    Reply
    • Yes. Exactly. If you had read this carefully you would have seen that this chart is for English speakers, not Farsi speakers. BTW, slangs is not a word. Slang is a non-count noun.

      Reply
  2. morteza :My mother language is Persian and I have to say we have the hardest language in the world because lots of slangs is invented every day and we even can’t recognize the other cities speakers accent And I think this text has been written from an western man vision Because Turkish and Arabic is so easy for us and my opinion is exactly against the writer from my vision

    Yeah it is written from a native English speaker, as it says on the table in the blue sections. Im a native Arabic speaker, so no wonder I can speak it with any real trouble, but it’s not the same for anyone who’s first language is English.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Share via
Copy link