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The benefits of language learning

Today we are introducing you to some of the most difficult languages in the world
to learn for English native speakers- which one of these languages would you like
to give a go?


Linguists around the world confirm that Japanese is the hardest language to
learn for English native speakers. Not only is the language and the writing
difficult to learn- the cultural difference is huge and very difficult for Westerners
to adjust to. Japanese belongs to its own language family and shares practically
no vocabulary with English apart from a few loan words- also Japanese hasn’t
got an alphabet, the writing system consists of characters from Chinese plus
two different syllables. If you meet a native English speaker that has learnt
Japanese to perfection, give him/her a pat on the back!


Learning Korean will give even real linguistic enthusiasts a hard time. It is
spoken by about 80 million people in South and North Korea, China, and around
the world. Its seen as a language isolate, meaning you can’t place it in any
language family! The writing system is totally unique in the world or languages,
as it combines the principles of an alphabet and syllables.


If there was a prize to be won for the most beautiful looking alphabet, it would
certainly go to the Georgian language, spoken only by about 4 million people.
Additionally to a very unfamiliar grammatical structure, the sounds are almost
impossible to form for native English speakers. The Georgians are not used to
foreigners learning their language, so if you make an effort to learn it, they
will be all too happy!

Gomera Silbo

This beautiful ancient language is currently celebrating a revival- the whistle
language Silbo, spoken on one of the smallest islands of the Canaries, La Gomera.

In this method of communication, the Spanish language is replaced by two whistled
vowels. It has the ability to travel up to two miles (3.2km), much further and
with less effort than shouting. Its origin is unclear, but it is known that
when the first European settlers arrived on La Gomera in the 15th Century, the
inhabitants of the island – of North African origin – communicated with whistles.
These whistles reproduced their indigenous language. If you want to hear it
for yourself, take a trip to the island and with a bit of luck, you might be
able to hear some of this fascinating whistled language.

Article references

Isabella Fink

Isabella Fink

I am native Austrian and studied Linguistics and Literature at the University of Innsbruck and in Manchester, so language and translation has always been a passion of mine. Before joining Tongue Tied, I have worked as a Translation Assistant and in Customer Services and Purchasing.

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  1. Andrej Orel

    Nice article! Probably missing a notion that Gomera Silbo is not the unique language of this kind. There are more whistling clacking languages around Africa probably the most known the one in Namibia (forgot the name at the moment!). And there is another thing about language difficulty. You must not include a “strange” scripture in the bag, but assume that you learn all of them in a transcribed Latin charters (so to say spoken language only) and then you’ll get a totally different picture. Japanese in this case is much simpler then Chinese and then comparing it (living languages only) to some originally written in Latin like Turkish or my language – Slovenian (one of two in the world including full dual).

  2. kathryn radford

    Thank you for this article. We see the importance of alphabet. Transliteration can lead to a basic level, unless a standard foreigner/learner version exists, as in Chinese. Besides languages with tones, some African tongues possess clicks. More difficulties for an English speaker to face! If we mention culture or mentality, we head into another fascinating topic.
    Please do a follow-up piece on the languages easiest for English-speakers to learn!


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