If you're thinking about taking up Mandarin, you better have 2,200 hours to spare. The Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State compiled learning expectations for native English speakers looking to achieve speaking and reading proficiency in a number of different foreign languages, based on factors including the complexity of the language, resources available, how many hours devoted to study each week, and student motivation. Insidermonkey experts made a list of 9 hardest languages to learn for English speakers.
The easiest languages — including Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian — require just 23-24 weeks of study, or 575-600 class hours, to achieve proficiency, and are the easiest because of their closeness to English. The most difficult languages — Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Japanese — require, on average, 1.69 years (88 weeks), or 2,200 class hours, to reach speaking and reading proficiency. You can also check our list of the 7 Easiest Languages to Learn for Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic Speakers.