Is Chinese the hardest language to learn?

I remember seeing this stat mentioned elsewhere but a friend recently forwarded me the graphic.  Check it out - for native English speakers, Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn.  


It's also "fun" to be realistic about how much you study per day and use their guide to figure out how long you'll need to study Chinese to get to proficient.  If I'm studying 1 hour a day that's like um... carry the one... uh... 6 years...?

is chinese the hardest language to learn
Via: Voxy Blog


Considering how many times I watched Star Wars in Spanish and how bad my French accent is, I'd say if anything it's optimistic.


What do you think?  How accurate is this?  How many years will or did it take you?

This post, Is Chinese the Hardest language to learn, was originally published on the Study More Chinese Blog. You should follow me on Twitter or add me to a circle on Google Plus → Brandon

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Comment by Josh Ke 柯恩华 on June 23, 2012 at 3:01am

One which they forgot on the most difficult list is Navaho. I have learned bits and pieces of this language for some years. Its Hard! lol 

Top Member
Comment by Thomas Doherty on February 20, 2012 at 9:55pm

I can not believe Thai is medium.  I find it much harder to learn tham Chinese or Korean.

Comment by Jacob Gill on October 4, 2011 at 10:26pm

@ 礼物 you have to remember that this chart was made with a native speaker of English in mind. You might have different languages grouped into the level 3 (hard) category. 


As for the infographic above, I would say that are a little on the low side... not to mention the fact that they don't define what proficient means. A major reason that Chinese is so difficult is the number of characters that are needed to be considered "proficient" or fluent in the language. The average college student ends their first year of Chinese study only knowing roughly 500 characters. However, there are around 3,500 critical characters in Chinese that are used to make up the most common words. If you are living in the country and studying Chinese everyday, I would say that you can achieve a reasonable level of proficiency in about two to three years. However, to get to a level of "near native fluency" (I use the term loosely) it takes around twice as long as other level one and two languages... so maybe about 6-8 years of intensive study. 

Comment by Lǐwù (礼物) on September 2, 2011 at 8:02am
i think i find Chinese much easier than thai because its kinda similar to my native language Yoruba, there are so many similar words with different tones that mean different things just like Chinese
Comment by Inga Z on May 5, 2011 at 12:01am
It's an interesting chart! But also, from 'glass half-full' point of view, when we learn Chinese other languages don't get in the way!! When I was learning French, I always kept thinking - Oh it's the same as ... in English, and so English words and grammar were always kind of on top of my French. Now with Chinese, I just assume that everything is different, so I don't translate as much.
Comment by Selom on May 2, 2011 at 12:19am
I am equally bad/good at every language I learn. My biggest issue with every language is grammar. My English grammar is bad as well. lol! Another problem with me is I am highly influential. If I do not speak or write the language for a long time, I will forget it. Now you think "yeah duh, that's everyone" but I forgot my mother tongue and when I am in isolation for more than 2 days I forget English, the only language I speak.
Comment by Sarah Heintze on April 19, 2011 at 5:54pm

How about German? Native English speakers learning German is my opinion it takes endless of patience to get the pronounciation right, especially because German people just love connecting serveral words together to make up a new one.


Personally I think with a bit of effort, genuine interest and the right mindset you can learn any language.

Comment by DK 大牛 on April 9, 2011 at 11:14pm
I think they forgot Hungarian.

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