The 5 Hardest Languages to Learn For Spanish Speakers (or Not?)

The 5 Hardest Languages to Learn For Spanish Speakers (or Not?)

Along with natives and Spanish language learners, there are more than 572 million Spanish speakers worldwide.

Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn, so it’s logical why it is the second-largest language worldwide.

According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Spanish belongs to category I by difficulty. It means that an average person takes up to 600 hours, or about 24 weeks to learn it to speak about everyday topics.

Have you ever wondered how Spanish people learn foreign languages?

Do they struggle with some of the hardest languages like others, or do they, perhaps, have difficulties learning some languages that others consider a piece of cake?

Let’s find out.

How Hard Is It For Spanish Speakers to Learn Foreign Languages?

To answer this question, we should start the other way round, that is, to mention which languages they learn easily.

Since Spanish is part of the Romance language family, a descendant of Vulgar Latin, Spanish native speakers have no difficulties learning Spanish cousin languages, such as Catalan, French, Italian or Portuguese.

Everything that doesn’t belong to the Romance languages is tricky.

However, even with that difficulty, every language can be learned.

Having that in mind, we’ve been searching a bit and found out which languages are the hardest to learn for Spanish speakers.

We’ve listed the hard and easy parts of a language so that you can decide whether they are really hard or not.

Chinese Mandarin

Interestingly, the most challenging language in the world is also the most spoken language.

Is this fact telling you something?

Yes, even though it’s the hardest language to learn in the world, it isn’t impossible

So, what is that that makes Chinese so hard to learn?

Here are some of the reasons.

  • Writing system. It makes Chinese one of the hardest languages to learn for English speakers, but for Spanish, and all those who use letters as well. Chinese uses special characters, thousands of them because each of the characters represents the word.
  • Tones. It is essential in Chinese because one word with two different tones changes its meaning. For example, the word ‘ma’ can have four different meanings, such as ‘mother,’ ‘horse,’ ‘scold,’ or ‘rough,’ depending on how you say it.

Some things, on the other hand, are easy to learn:

  • Grammar. Chinese Mandarin grammar is simple. There are no genders, verbs are in the infinitive and don’t contain prefixes and suffixes or tenses. Don’t think that there is no grammar. There is, it is only concerned with the word structure to be able to create meaningful sentences.

To show you that everything is a matter of perspective and attitude, remember the number 1000.

That is how many characters you have to learn to understand 90% of the everyday language.

Japanese

The House of the Rising Sun has always been attracting people from all over the world. 

Their culture, heritage, and hard-working people are something everyone admires.

As for the language, there comes a catch. Japanese is listed as one of the hardest languages to learn, especially for Spanish speakers.

Now, let’s take a look at what makes the Spanish spend so much time learning it but getting little results.

  • Writing system. Oh, yes, that Asian writing system is the most challenging part for the Spanish people. How can you read and write anything if you don’t use letters?

The Japanese writing system is based on kanji, Chinese characters, and kana, foreign words, grammar, and marketers.

  • Postpositions. Japanese uses postpositions rather than prepositions, for which an average Spanish learner takes a lot of time while he figures out that he should use them.
  • Word order. The verb always goes after the object, making Japanese and English as they are from two different planets.

But don’t be discouraged by these difficulties. There are also some parts of the language you can learn in no time.

  • Pronunciation. Interestingly, the Japanese language has five vowels, which are similar to the Spanish ones. The sound system is consisting of a consonant and a vowel, which is a pretty simple structure.
  • Grammar. If we forget about the verbs and postpositions difficulties, Japanese grammar is pretty simple. Nouns have no genders, nor number, and there are no articles.

Korean

Famous Korean pop singer Psy and his worldwide-popular Gangnam Style became the reason many wanted to learn Korean.

Even though it is one of the hardest languages to learn for Spanish speakers, it is somehow easier than Japanese and especially Chinese.

Here are some of the parts of the language that give headaches to Spanish learners.

  • Pronunciation. The Hangul, Korean alphabet, is like building blocks. It is easier than Chinese or Japanese, but you have to learn Hangul if you want to go any further.
  • Intonation. Even though there are no tones in Korean, intonation is one of the vital parts of the language. You always have to pay attention to which syllables have emphasis, and the best thing you can do it is by listening to native speakers.
  • Grammar. Like other Asian languages, basic grammar is quite simple. If you want to learn something more than just the basics, then you have to be persistent. The difficult part of Korean grammar lies in different speech levels. 

Many say that Korean has more logic and some rules are made to be as simple as possible. Easy parts that Spanish speakers can learn are in the following lines.

  • No tones. Almost every East Asian language has different tones. But not Korean. Tones are something that the Spanish struggle with, but you don’t have to worry about them while learning Korean.

Arabic

We can’t say that Arabic is one of the hardest languages to learn for Spanish speakers, mainly because the two share many words and some grammar rules. 

However, Arabic belongs to a distant language family rather than Spanish, so even if there was a significant Arabic influence on the Spanish language, some things remain quite challenging for Spanish speakers to learn.

  • Arabic varieties. There are many varieties of Arabic, depending on the country and region, and they are quite different from each other. So, if you want to learn Arabic, you have to decide which of the dialects you will learn.
  • Alphabet. The Arabic alphabet is relatively easy to learn, but it takes time to get used to it since it is quite different from the Latin letters. Arabic letters have mainly most of the equivalents in Spanish, but writing and reading in Arabic are challenging.

When you decide to learn Arabic, you have to use the advantage of the Arabic influence in Spanish. So, some of the easy parts you should have in mind are:

  • Pronunciation. Even though it seems that there are no similarities between Arabic and Spanish pronunciation, pay attention better. Many sounds are almost the same, such as ‘g’ in ‘girar,’ or ‘j’ in ‘jarra.’
  • Vocabulary. You can find many words with Arabic origin in Spanish, such as ‘Azúcar – Sugar,’ ‘Ojalá – Let’s hope/hopefully/God willing,’ or ‘Barrio – Neighborhood.’

Russian

The reason why we’ve listed Russian as one of those languages that Spanish native speakers find it hard to learn, find out in the following lines.

  • Cases. Cases are something that gives headaches not only Spanish native speakers but others as well. Every Slavic language has cases, and in Russian, there are six of them. Cases change depending on their grammatical role, and in Russian, every noun word can be changed by cases. 
  • The verb ‘to be.’ While in Spanish, the usage of the verb to be is more than simple; in Russian, this verb in the present tense doesn’t show up always. For example, ‘I’m a doctor,’ in Russian is ‘I doctor’ ( я доктор).
  • Alphabet. Don’t be surprised when we say that the Cyrillic alphabet can be learned in no time. Many letters are the same as in Latin, such as the letters ‘A,’ ‘E,’ ‘K,’ ‘O,’ ‘T.’

Final Thoughts

Learning a difficult language can be satisfying as well as frustrating sometimes.

Thanks to foreign languages, you can connect with different people and meet different cultures. You can compare your way of life to others.’

Most importantly, you can make new friends or fall in love and create lifelong relationships.

What do you think about these languages? Are they complicated as they seem? Please share it with us in the comments below!

How hard is it for Spanish speakers to learn foreign languages?

To answer this question, we should start the other way round, that is, to mention which languages they learn easily. Since Spanish is part of the Romance language family, a descendant of Vulgar Latin, Spanish native speakers have no difficulties learning Spanish cousin languages, such as Catalan, French, Italian or Portuguese. Everything that doesn’t belong to the Romance languages is tricky. However, even with that difficulty, every language can be learned. Having that in mind, we’ve been searching a bit and found out which languages are the hardest to learn for Spanish speakers.

What are the hardest languages to learn for Spanish speakers?

Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Russian

Is Chinese hard to learn?

Interestingly, the most challenging language in the world is also the most spoken language. Is this fact telling you something? Yes, even though it’s the hardest language to learn in the world, it isn’t impossible So, what is that that makes Chinese so hard to learn? Here are some of the reasons: writing system, tones. It is essential in Chinese because one word with two different tones changes its meaning. For example, the word ‘ma’ can have four different meanings, such as ‘mother,’ ‘horse,’ ‘scold,’ or ‘rough,’ depending on how you say it.

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