Learning a foreign language can be fun, exciting and very useful if you are planning on visiting a country where that language is spoken. However, some languages are easier to learn than others. In fact, many languages are rooted in different families that are completely unfamiliar to English speakers.
What follows are a few of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn. Each of these languages presents many inherent difficulties from different words, rules and structure that make them very difficult, but not impossible to comprehend.
Arabic is not so much a singular language, but a myriad of similar languages with different families depending on which region you are in. Another issue is that there is the Modern Standard Arabic of print, media and online and then there is spoken Arabic which encompasses many different dialects which can vary extensively, which means that what is understood in Tunisia may not translate to Kuwait.
Of all the European languages, Basque often ranks as perhaps the hardest to learn. In fact, Basque is a unique language devoid of most outside influences, which means that it developed on its own and has little, if any familiar structure. The standardized language of Basque is often used by academics, though there are regional dialects which add to the complications of the language. To make matters worse, while the rules of the Basque language are relatively straightforward, the grammar itself is quite complex.
Cantonese is the other major dialect spoken in the Chinese language, apart from Mandarin. Cantonese is based in tonal language, which is a far different system than English. This is especially true for English speakers who use emphasis in their verbiage. Reading Cantonese is not much easier as there are over 5000 characters to learn and trying to learn the language phonetically is nearly impossible as well given the structure of the language. Even those that speak Mandarin have had difficultly in learning and understanding Cantonese.
Despite being near countries that speak the North Germanic family of languages which is relatively easy for English speakers to learn, Finnish is derived from the Hungarian and Estonian dialects which are completely alien to those that speak English. Furthermore, Finnish tops this by having a nearly incomprehensible vocabulary as well. With fifteen noun cases, many of which have very subtle differences in pronunciation, Finnish is certainly a very challenging language to learn.
Although this language uses the somewhat familiar Roman alphabet for writing, the unique vowel sounds, the cluster of consonants and unusual structure of the language makes Hungarian very difficult for native English speakers to learn. A good example is that the possession, number and tense of words are indicated by suffixes and not their order in a sentence, unlike English. This means that a single sentence can have many different meanings even if there are little differences between the suffixes.
Overall, these are generally considered the hardest languages to learn. If you are planning on travelling to any of the countries where these languages are common, it is recommended that you take some extra time to learn them as compared to languages such as Spanish or French.