Language Learning Difficulty: Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and German

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According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Japanese is the most difficult language to learn for a native English speaker; you need 88 weeks or 2,200 hours of study time to achieve general proficiency in Japanese. The Japanese writing system is extremely complicated to grasp for most English speakers because it contains three different sets of characters: Kanji (with thousands of Chinese characters), Hiragana (a phonetic lettering system), and Katakana (two “alphabets” of syllables that comprise 46 characters, each of which is called Kana). Japanese language, or Nihongo, has an extensive grammatical system that pays close attention to honors, titles, and politeness. It changes based on politeness level; each level has its own set of rules and forms.


There are approximately more than 80,000 Chinese characters (also known as hanzi). If you want to learn the language, you only need to know about 3,500 in Standard Chinese and if you want to read Chinese publications, you just need to know about 1,000 characters. Modern Mandarin Chinese is an example of a tonal language. For those who don’t know, tonal language is a language wherein the same series of sounds can represent different meanings based on how high or low they are spoken. There are five tones (including the neutral tone) in Modern Mandarin Chinese and depending on the tone used, the speaker can change the meaning of a sound.


For many, the main reason why Arabic is a difficult language to learn is because it contains very little in common with European languages; Arabic originated from the Afroasiatic language family. In addition, Arabic has a completely different alphabet with rather unusual sounds—some of those sounds have no equivalent in English. Unlike the English language, writing and reading in Arabic happens from right to left. Another reason why it is difficult for native English speakers to learn Arabic is because the vowels are omitted in written Arabic, which may make it difficult to understand the language at the start.


German grammar may be tricky and more complicated compared to English. It is an inflected language with three grammatical genders. But it is easier to learn (say, compared to Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic). According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), you need 30 weeks or 750 hours to achieve general proficiency in German. But if you need English into German translation in Dubai, you don’t need to study the language for 30 weeks. Let us work for you. Visit today!