Hardest Asian Languages to Learn as an English Speaker

11/15/23

11/15/23

8 MIN READ

8 MIN READ

LINGOSNAP TEAM

LINGOSNAP TEAM
hardest-asian-languages-to-learn-as-an-English-speaker
hardest-asian-languages-to-learn-as-an-English-speaker
hardest-asian-languages-to-learn-as-an-English-speaker

Top Hardest Asian Languages to Learn for English Speakers

In a big world where lots of folks speak English—like, 1.5 billion of them—it's a language that connects us globally. Most people who talk English every day live in the U.S., but it's not just an American thing. There are 45 countries where it's the official language and 21 where it's a second language.

Think about it: most of us can't even remember learning English—it just happened. So, here's a question: if English is something we pick up without even trying, how tough is it to use that skill to pick up other languages? Let's take a journey into the world of learning languages and figure out which Asian languages we should learn next.

Ranking these languages based on their linguistic similarities to English, let's explore their levels of difficulty using the sentences:

  1. "I eat rice"

  2. "I ate rice yesterday"

  3. "I will eat rice tomorrow."

Level 1 - Difficult

Bahasa Indonesia

Bahasa Indonesia flows like English, using a similar subject-verb-object structure. It indicates time with markers, and lots of words are borrowed from English, giving it a touch of familiarity. Pronunciation is straightforward, and it shares the same Latin alphabet as English.

  1. Present Tense:

    • Bahasa Indonesia: Saya makan nasi. (I eat rice.)

    • English: I eat rice.

  2. Past Tense:

    • Bahasa Indonesia: Kemarin, saya makan nasi. (Yesterday, I ate rice.)

    • English: I ate rice yesterday.

  3. Future Tense:

    • Bahasa Indonesia: Besok, saya akan makan nasi. (Tomorrow, I will eat rice.)

    • English: I will eat rice tomorrow.

In Bahasa Indonesia, the verb "makan" (to eat) and the word "nasi" (rice) remain the same regardless of the tense. Instead, words like "kemarin" (yesterday) or "besok" (tomorrow), and the use of "akan" (will), are used to convey the intended timeframe.

Level 2 - More Difficult

Vietnamese

Vietnamese is like English in grammar, using a subject-verb-object structure with added modifiers for tenses. It uses markers for indicating time and has borrowed words from Chinese, French, and English. Vietnamese is tonal, where pitch tone changes meaning, and it uses a script based on Chinese characters.

  1. Present Tense:

    • Vietnamese: Tôi ăn cơm. (I eat rice.)

    • English: I eat rice.

  2. Past Tense:

    • Vietnamese: Hôm qua, tôi ăn cơm. (Yesterday, I ate rice.)

    • English: I ate rice yesterday.

  3. Future Tense:

    • Vietnamese: Ngày mai, tôi sẽ ăn cơm. (Tomorrow, I will eat rice.)

    • English: I will eat rice tomorrow.

In Vietnamese, the verb "ăn" (to eat) and the word "cơm" (rice) remain the same regardless of the tense. Instead, words like "hôm qua" (yesterday) or "ngày mai" (tomorrow), and the use of "sẽ" (will), are used to convey the intended timeframe.

Thai

Thai has its own script and is a tonal language, where changes in pitch tone alter the meaning of words. Its grammar is somewhat similar to English, following a subject-verb-object structure with added modifiers for expressing different tenses. In terms of vocabulary, Thai includes loanwords from Pali, Sanskrit, Khmer, and Chinese, with English being less common.

  1. Present Tense:

    • Thai: ฉันกินข้าว (Chan kin khao)

    • English: I eat rice.

  2. Past Tense:

    • Thai: ฉันกินข้าวเมื่อวาน (Chan kin khao meu waan)

    • English: I ate rice yesterday.

  3. Future Tense:

    • Thai: ฉันจะกินข้าวพรุ่งนี้ (Chan ja kin khao prung nee)

    • English: I will eat rice tomorrow.

In these examples, you can observe that the Thai verb "กิน" (kin), meaning "to eat," remains the same regardless of the tense. The tense is conveyed through additional words like เมื่อวาน (meu waan) for yesterday and พรุ่งนี้ (prung nee) for tomorrow.

Level 3 - Most Difficult

Japanese

Japanese incorporates three scripts: Kanji (borrowed characters from Chinese), Hiragana, and Katakana. It follows a subject-object-verb structure and uses particles to represent subject and object. The language is tonal, with pitch affecting meaning. Verb conjugations vary for present, past, and future tenses. Additionally, Japanese includes honorifics, where word choice depends on social status and relationships. It also embraces loanwords from multiple cultures.

  1. Present Tense:

    • Japanese: 私はご飯を食べます (Watashi wa gohan o tabemasu)

    • English: I eat rice.

  2. Past Tense:

    • Japanese: 昨日、私はご飯を食べました (Kinou, watashi wa gohan o tabemashita)

    • English: I ate rice yesterday.

  3. Future Tense:

    • Japanese: 明日、私はご飯を食べるでしょう (Ashita, watashi wa gohan o taberu deshou)

    • English: I will eat rice tomorrow.

Chinese

Chinese employs logographic characters, known as Hanyu, and follows a subject-verb-object structure. It uses time expressions to indicate timing. Chinese is tonal, meaning pitch can alter meaning. Although it includes loanwords from English, the pronunciation and usage may differ.

  1. Present Tense:

    • Mandarin Chinese: 我吃米饭 (Wǒ chī mǐfàn)

    • English: I eat rice.

  2. Past Tense:

    • Mandarin Chinese: 昨天,我吃了米饭 (Zuótiān, wǒ chī le mǐfàn)

    • English: I ate rice yesterday.

  3. Future Tense:

    • Mandarin Chinese: 明天,我会吃米饭 (Míngtiān, wǒ huì chī mǐfàn)

    • English: I will eat rice tomorrow.

In Mandarin Chinese, the verb "吃" (chī), meaning "to eat," and the word "米饭" (mǐfàn), meaning "rice," remain the same regardless of the tense. Instead, time expressions like "昨天" (zuótiān) for yesterday or "明天" (míngtiān) for tomorrow, and the use of "了" (le) for the past tense, are used to convey the intended timeframe.

Korean

Korean employs the Hangul script and adopts a subject-object-verb structure. Particles are used to indicate the subject, object, and location. The language involves complex verb conjugations to convey tense and politeness. Pronunciation is simpler than English, with each letter having a consistent sound. Korean incorporates honorifics to denote politeness levels and includes some borrowed words from Chinese and English.

  1. Present Tense:

    • Korean: 나는 밥을 먹어요 (Naneun bapeul meogeoyo)

    • English: I eat rice.

  2. Past Tense:

    • Korean: 어제, 나는 밥을 먹었어요 (Eoje, naneun bapeul meogeosseoyo)

    • English: I ate rice yesterday.

  3. Future Tense:

    • Korean: 내일, 나는 밥을 먹을 거예요 (Naeil, naneun bapeul meogeul geoyeyo)

    • English: I will eat rice tomorrow.

In Korean, the verb "먹다" (meokda), meaning "to eat," and the word "밥" (bap), meaning "rice," undergo changes in form for different tenses. Additionally, the politeness levels are expressed through verb endings like "어요" (eoyo) for the present tense and "었어요" (eosseoyo) for the past tense. The future tense is indicated by "을 거예요" (eul geoyeyo).

All the best in choosing your new language

Best of luck in selecting your new language! Now that you're aware of the languages that are more challenging for English speakers, if you're feeling up for the adventure, dive into the most difficult ones! It might be a bit tricky at first, but hang in there. Don't forget to add fun into your learning journey by watching movies, listening to music, and incorporating your surroundings into your practice. All the best!

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© Lingosnap. 2024 | Lalia Private Limited

© Lingosnap. 2024 | Lalia Private Limited

© Lingosnap. 2024 | Lalia Private Limited