Revealing Map Shows How Long It Takes to Learn the Most Popular Languages in Europe

European Language Map of Hardest Language to Learn

Have you ever wondered what the hardest language to learn is? Although it’s different for everyone, there’s a general sense that some languages are more difficult to grasp than others. For English speakers wanting to expand their proficiency in another tongue, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has ranked languages around the world by how many weeks it takes to learn them. To visualize this, Redditor Fummy shared a map that displays this data in part of Europe.

The language map spans from Portugal to Ukraine, and the difficulty rankings run the gamut from Category I (about 24 weeks of instruction) to Category IV (about 44 weeks of instruction). So, if you’re looking to learn a new language with relative ease, why not try Spanish or French? In less than a year, you can have a good grasp on both of them. But if you’re looking for a tougher linguistic challenge, try learning Hungarian. It will take you about 44 weeks (and around 1,100 hours) of instruction, as it’s considered a language “with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English.”

Check out the FSI’s full list of languages on the next page. And for Spotify users, it’s easier than you think to start your lessons. The program has French, Spanish, Chinese, German, and more available for free.

What's the hardest language to learn for English speakers? See the rankings below.

Category I: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)

  • Afrikaans
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • French
  • Italian
  • Norwegian
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish

Category II: 30 weeks (750 hours)

  • German

Category III: 36 weeks (900 hours)

  • Indonesian
  • Malaysian
  • Swahili

Category IV: 44 weeks (1100 hours)

  • 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)

  • Arabic
  • Cantonese (Chinese)
  • Mandarin (Chinese)
  • *Japanese
  • Korean

* Usually more difficult than other languages in the same category.

h/t: [Open Culture, Reddit]

Image via Reddit.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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