Created by Ichibanx3
Post Reply Which Language is the hardest to learn: Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, or Korean?
先生
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Posted 11/28/14 , edited 8/13/15
I would like your opinion on which language in the group is the most difficult to learn and I would like to read your comments on why you view that language as difficult!
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Posted 11/28/14 , edited 11/28/14
I am currently taking Japanese as my second year now. So far I find the language very interesting. I learned more about the culture, too. That really opened my eyes to what Japanese is really about. Not just language being Kawaii and anime
As for language difficulty I'd say it's Chinese. I hear there is a lot more characters to learn than Japanese.
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Posted 11/28/14 , edited 11/28/14
Chinese is the hardest because you have to remember all the symbols and meanings. Trust me, I'm currently learning Chinese and it is hard. I've been going to classes for about 3 years now learning Cantonese.
Chinese is not a language by the way. Mandarin and Cantonese are languages of Chinese.

Japanese actually has an alphabet or something like that. Like a symbol would represent a syllable in a word. That means that you are able to spell out words in Japanese, not in Chinese though.

At the same time, I'm also learning Spanish. Not really that hard.

I'm not sure about Korean though
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Posted 12/2/14
I think they are all easy ish. Japanese is just easy. I am Chinese. Spanish is most similar to English and I listen to kpop and know a few words. But I think Korean is the hardest.
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Posted 12/2/14

crunchynaruto321 wrote:

Chinese is the hardest because you have to remember all the symbols and meanings. Trust me, I'm currently learning Chinese and it is hard. I've been going to classes for about 3 years now learning Cantonese.
Chinese is not a language by the way. Mandarin and Cantonese are languages of Chinese.

Japanese actually has an alphabet or something like that. Like a symbol would represent a syllable in a word. That means that you are able to spell out words in Japanese, not in Chinese though.

At the same time, I'm also learning Spanish. Not really that hard.

I'm not sure about Korean though


Chinese is not that hard because most people use simplified not traditional but in Japan they use traditional and there's hiragana and katakana.
漢和名手
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Posted 12/22/14
The answer to this will depend on one's background. I hear that for native Koreans, learning Japanese, for example, isn't all that hard. For native English speakers, though, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are considered to be among the more difficult to learn, along with Arabic; and I hear some of the Eastern European or Scandanavian languages are quite difficult as well.

For me, learning Chinese wasn't terribly difficult overall. Modern Chinese grammar is not too complicated (Classical Chinese is a different beast altogther!) . The writing system, of course, can be quite daunting, but there's actually a fair bit of order in the seeming chaos, and once one gets the hang of it, it's not as opaque as it might seem-- I'm talking even about the traditional characters. I actually find Japanese more difficult than Chinese, largely due to its grammar, which is quite different from English. I hear Korean grammar is in some manner similar to Japanese, and while it has Chinese cognate words, Korean no longer uses Chinese characters in everyday use, and so my knowledge of Chinese helps me very little when trying to learn Korean. Hence, for me, I think Korean will be most difficult. (I tried it a bit a year or two ago, and gave up for the moment....)

Incidentally, for non-English native speakers, I actually hear English is itself quite difficult to learn-- we've a lot of weird spelling and numerous grammar rule exceptions!
百芸
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Posted 1/15/15
I think this article summarizes difficulty nicely:
http://www.thecultureist.com/2014/05/27/spanish-korean-easiest-hardest-languages-learn-infographic/

Of course, that was from the perspective of native-English speakers. Spanish isn't even close to the difficulty level of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

From a non-English perspective, the difficulties are likely different. Since Chinese, Japanese, and Korean share some commonality, learning one certainly helps for learning the others. I've heard that English is extremely difficult to learn from a non-native perspective. That I can believe.
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Posted 3/19/15
I just ran across this video today about Korean and Japanese students' difficulty in learning English.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW920zWkIQI

It's a little over 4 minutes.

There are some good points raised in the video about the focus on teaching grammar. But, I think that's true in most language classes.
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Posted 3/20/15
The difficulty og different languages depends on where you come from I would say.
Every language has its own rules, and it would make sense that the language that is easiest to learn, is one with similar rules and words. But another important thing, is how much the other language fills in your everyday life. If you only hear it once or twice a week in a class room, it's going to be 10 times harder to learn. Well, that is my personal experience.

Now I only started on Japanese recently, so I can't really tell how hard it is, since I'm not even started on words or grammar. Only remembering Hiragana, and starting out soon with Katakana when I'm getting paid next time.
I don't think spanish would be that hard for me to learn. I think the difficulty would be the same as german for me personally. That is only a little bit more difficult than learning english. English was easy for me after 6 grade, and in 8 grade I was close to speak fluent.
I have no idea about Chinese or Korean, but I would guess Chinese could be the hardest.
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Posted 3/29/15 , edited 4/3/15
I know this is slight thread resurrection but just thought I'd add my 2c since I speak all of the languages above to varying degrees.

How difficult a language is to learn very much depends on your primary language and how many/what kind of languages you've learnt before. They all have their own complexities and little quirks so there is no objective "most difficult language" as it's all about what is easiest for you as an individual.

Spanish is a romance language which is part of the Indo-European language tree, so it's going to be generally easier to learn for someone from the same Romance branch or Indo-European language tree than a Non-related language.

As for the 3 asian languages which aren't related to english

Chinese is from the Sino-Tibetan group and Japanese/Korean are 2 Family isolate languages (not related to chinese at all in construction) although they are potentially from the Altaic language group (which i personally think must be the case as they are incredibly similar to each other).

As for the quirks of these 3, from an english speaker's perspective, Japanese has the least foreign sounds but the grammar is fairly complex and Kanji is probably most complicated of the 3 as although there are less letters, Japanese kanji can have several different pronunciations all based on context, i.e: 上 commonly うえ has at least 10 different readings that I can think of.

Korean generally has very similar but potentially slightly more complicated grammar, their particles are more diverse and where as 3 different particles in Korean may correspond to を for example, you wouldn't know which particle を corresponds to from Japanese necessarily. Writing system is most similar to an alphabet of the 3 and Hanja (Kanji) are rarely used.

Because of the 4+1 tones in Mandarin and 8 Tones in Cantonese + various undetectable differences in sound to an English Speakers ear, i'd say that Chinese spoken is definitely the hardest of the 3 but grammatically Chinese is definitely the most simple (it's pretty much caveman grammar, i,e: "I want eat now!") and Hanji while numerous have one specific pronunciation and these days are simplified for ease of use (outside of HK/Taiwan). Once you've learnt your first 500-1000 Kanji you'll start to see patterns and while it is a chore to learn them you pretty much get into patterns where you pick them up quickly.
百芸
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Posted 3/30/15
Wow! Great information. Thanks.
先生
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Posted 3/30/15
Wow Dan-san thank you so much for all the information you shared! I never knew Cantonese had 8 tones! I have enough trouble just with trying to pronounce each tone in Mandarin correctly! I agree that Japanese grammar is more complex than Chinese grammar, that's why it is way easier for me to form sentences in Chinese class! Sadly, I'm not too familiar with Korean. I tried to study the Hangul alphabet, but since I am bust studying Japanese and Mandarin, I have no time for Hangul One Korean girl in my Mandarin class said that when she was in school in Korea, she had to learn Mandarin and Japanese and she complained about having to study Hiragana and Katakana. She said that she found them really confusing. Her reasoning behind this was she said that her native Korean's Hangul alphabet is based on the shape the mouth makes when speaking each sound, while we all know Katakana and Hiragana isn't based off the shape of the mouth, like Hangul.

I speak Spanish way better than Japanese and Chinese I think it's awesome you are familiar with English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese! That's just AMAZING!!!!!
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Posted 5/31/15
As far as I remember, Hangul and Japanese Kana are both based off of the sound they made in certain Chinese characters at the time of their adoption, like あ and 安, ᄃ from 端 
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Posted 7/30/15
I found chinese easy due grammar. And yeah, japanese its weird and super easy
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