The hardest and easiest languages to learn for native English speakers


Originally published at:


I would like to see a reverse version of this infographic.


Why does no one ever list American Sign Language, which is a legitimate language in its own right, and damn hard to learn?


I dare anyone to learn Finnish, I double dog dare ya.


At first glance, one would assume that ASL was easier for speakers of FSL than BSL since it is much closer to it linguistically speaking, but since this chart shows German being more difficult than French for English speakers, that may not be the case.


It’s much like Hungarian, i.e. makes you start suspecting it is a plot, an elaborate prank, or that it is the aftermath of an aborted alien invasion.

Sounds damn cool though. And, really, fifteen cases is just right.


I read an article a year or two back that said Norwegian was one of the easiest for an English-speaker to learn, but it’s not listed on the full map, I don’t think?


I do notice that Finnish, Hungarian and Estonian (which are all related) are in one of the more difficult categories.

Another weird one is Basque, but not a national language, so maybe they don’t count that.

Native American languages are pretty strange, too, but I guess the Foreign Service Institute is not concerned about those.


The “Category I” list appears to be cut off because Spanish and Romanian are not listed either.


I’ve studied at least one language from each category except III, to one degree or other. Actually used the Foreign Service Institute’s course for one of those (Hungarian), back when you had to buy actual cassette tapes for it. These days, you can find the FSI courses online, and they’re public domain, so free!


How can Swedish and Norwegian be “easier” than German? I know I’m going to get blowback, but they’re all Germanic languages as far as I can tell. I studied German in college and it was pretty easy to navigate Scandinavia (except for Finland, of course!) on vacation with that background.


Interesting that Turkish is rated as easier than the other languages in the Finno-Ugric group (Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian).


The hardest for native English speakers to understand: Trump’s English


Turkish is not a part of the Finno-Ugric group:


It should come as no surprise to The Foreign Service Institute that languages are also spoken outside of Europe. I hear !Kung is a challenge.


Oh yeah, I should have said Ural-Altaic, which includes both Turkic and Finno-Ugric. But quick googling reveals there’s still some debate about the theorized relationship between Uralic and Altaic languages.


I see that Basque and Welsh are “Unclassified.” Probably would have broken their scale.


As somebody 7+ years into self studying Japanese, I frown on this infographic’s shenanigans.


nihongo wa saiaku da!


because it’s a solved problem?