The Hardest Language to Learn Survey
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Soon after, I added Japanese, German and Latin in the multiple choice section and a write-in section. There are nearly 7000 languages in the world today and I'm sure some of them (most of which we've never heard of) are extremely difficult languages to learn. I've had some limited exposure to some of those more common languages, but I wanted to make sure that someone learning a more obscure language could chime in with some input.
Of course, these versions of the poll are biased towards those first choices, even with the write-in section. So, after more than 1500 responses, I am updating to a third version of the poll with no choices. It just asks for your opinion. We'll see how that changes the results.
Since the last update, the numbers have evened out a little for the other languages. Arabic, Finnish and Japanese (with Russian not too far behind) are all neck and neck for second place. But Chinese is still being chosen two-to-one over any of these as a more difficult language. Korean, Latin and German lag far behind.
The strong showing of Finnish is interesting considering the very small number of native speakers compared to the other languages. That should mean that there are far fewer people learning the language, as well. But Finnish remains a very popular choice for hardest language to learn. Testament perhaps to the vaunted Finnish grammar.
As for the other languages, the answers were largely expected as to why they were a hard language to learn : different alphabets or writing systems (Russian, Arabic, Korean), different or difficult grammar etc. In the case of Finnish, for example, one visitor wrote "3 words : endless noun cases."
The write-ins were interesting. Sign Language, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Thai, Mongolian, Hungarian, Navajo, Polish, Tagalog, Estonian, Czech, Icelandic and Basque all made appearances. One interesting reason given for why a language was hard was because it was uncommon. For Icelandic (and it was also a recurring theme with Finnish) you have a small population of people who also speak other languages (English, Norwegian, Swedish etc) so it is not a very common language to learn, and consequently there are few methods to study from and few people to talk to. With Basque, not only is it uncommon, but one visitor noted that it was a 'language isolate' or completely unrelated to any other language.
I noticed also that some of the write-ins, Hungarian (with a number of votes) and Estonian, are also distantly related to Finnish. Something about this language family seems to make them very difficult languages.
I will continue to collect data and update the results on this page periodically. If you haven't filled out the form already, please do so, or fill out one of the other surveys. By gathering information like this I hope to make it easier for people to identify what about language learning is difficult and how to go about making that process easier and more enjoyable.
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