Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world with over 1.3 billion people. Ironically, it is considered as the top hardest language to learn. They are couples of reasons why this language is very difficult: First, complex writing system (strokes). For English speakers who are accustomed to Latin alphabets, Mandarin’s writing system would be horrendous to learn. Second, the need to memorize thousands of characters to make even a basic conversation. Mandarin is known also for its vast vocabularies which are symbolized in characters. Third, Mandarin is a tonal language which means a character is pronounced using the right tone or pitch (4 tones to be exact). Because of this, every word in Mandarin can be pronounced in 4 ways which all have different meanings.
Japanese is one of the most difficult language stated by the Foreign Service Institute. The language itself has two main alphabets Hiragana for Japanese words and Katakana for foreign words which are not very intimidating. However, the catch of learning Japanese is when you learn about Kanji characters. This particular type writing system is adopted from Chinese characters. Also, this type of writing commonly uses the archaic/traditional Chinese writings which are more complex rather than in our modern Mandarin. Below figure shows all three characters forming one sentence, “Tom loves pizza.”
The difficulty of learning Polish is in its consonants which are used a lot. The word “pick” in Polish is “wybierać”. “car” in Polish is “samochód”. Even “hello” in Polish “Cześć” use many consonants. English speaker would need to practice greatly to pronounce Polish words. In addition, Polish is a synthetic language that has an intricate grammar or rules of language such as the use of 7 cases that could be influenced by genders. This is more complex than English temporal tenses. A great example to prove this is in the phrase “on the train” or “in the train”. In these phrases, the word “box” stays the same. In Polish, as you guess, we need to consider what modifier to use and gender. Below figure shows you variety of the word “eat” in Polish.
Finnish is often considered as similar to Hungarian since it has a linguistic relation to that language. Finnish is in the Finno-Ugrian language group that also consists the Estonesian language because of foreign influenced in the past. In the grammar, Finnish has 15 tense which could be complicated to learn and similar to Hungarian, words can be attached to each other depending on the speaker. Also, pronouncing Finnish words could be a challenge since its sounds or phonology are not related to English language.
FSI (Foreign Service Institute) stated Russian language as four out of five in difficulty. However, it is less intimidating than the four other languages above. The most common challenge when learning Russian is the alphabets which have no relation to English Latin alphabets. There are 31 alphabets in Russian (21 Consonants and 10 vowels). Also, Russian is a synthetic language which uses cases (6 to be exact). If you are not exposed to cases, this type of language would be hard to be learned. However, Russian grammars are very straightforward and clear. They don’t have exceptions in grammars which we can see in English and Germanic.