Map Ranks Languages From Least To Most Difficult To Learn.

The time it takes to learn a language is something every learner takes into account before deciding to learn a certain language. To help you make a time-efficient decision, The Foreign Service Institute sorted major languages around the world into 5 categories of difficulty according to their differences from English. Let’s see some maps first and then jump right to the categories. 


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CATEGORY I: 23-24 WEEKS (575-600 HOURS)

  • Afrikaans 
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • French
  • Italian 
  • Norwegian 
  • Spanish
  • Swedish 
  • Portuguese 
  • Romanian 

CATEGORY II: 30 WEEKS (750 HOURS)

  • German

CATEGORY III: 36 WEEKS (900 HOURS)

  • Indonesian 
  • Swahili 
  • Malaysian 

CATEGORY IV: 44 WEEKS (1100 HOURS)

  • Albanian 
  • Amharic
  • Armenian 
  • Azerbaijani 
  • Bengali 
  • Bosnian
  • Bulgarian 
  • Burmese 
  • Croatian 
  • Czech
  • *Estonian 
  • *Finnish
  • *Georgian 
  • Greek 
  • Hebrew 
  • Hindi
  • *Hungarian 
  • Icelandic 
  • Khmer
  • Lao
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian 
  • Macedonian 
  • *Mongolian 
  • Nepali 
  • Pashto 
  • Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik) 
  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Serbian 
  • Sinhala
  • Slovak 
  • Slovenian 
  • Tagalog 
  • *Thai
  • Turkish 
  • Ukrainian 
  • Urdu 
  • Uzbek 
  • *Vietnamese
  • Xhosa
  • Zulu 


CATEGORY V: 88 WEEKS (2200 HOURS) 

  • Arabic
  • Cantonese (Chinese)
  • Mandarin (Chinese)
  • *Japanese 
  • Korean

* usually more difficult than the languages in the same category. 

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12 thoughts on “Map Ranks Languages From Least To Most Difficult To Learn.”

    1. I don’t see how it could be a joke. The ranking’s empirical. It’s a ranking of how long it took native English-speakers to attain the same level of proficiency. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that there’s a more objective measure out there.

  1. I don;t find French easier than German.
    Moerover, Learning French as easy as Italian and Norwegian is incredible.

    1. The ranking is based on a group of students. It can’t predict with 100% accuracy what the situation will be for a given student. As far as French and German are concerned, the ranking basically serves to back up the proposition that generally, a native English-speaker will learn French faster than German. But does anyone know if the ranking takes into account knowledge of other languages? What if the speaker learning French already speaks Spanish? Or Dutch?

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