Why Japanese is the Hardest Language to Learn (for English Speakers)

You are ready to embark on a fantastic quest that is learning a new language! We all have our reasons: work, communicating with loved one, maybe watching anime without subtitles?

Japanese Textbook

You’ve registered for classes, hired a private tutor, or are taking a self-learning route with apps – cool! But, did you know that your mother tongue may make it more difficult to learn other languages?

Did you know that Japanese and other Asian languages have a high learning curve for English speakers? English is a Germanic language with heavy Romantic and Latinate influences, meaning that it’s easier to learn German and French due to their similarities.

Japanese developed free from those influences, which can be difficult to grasp if you aren’t familiar with the Japonic system. The most difficult thing to grasp is the Japanese alphabet, which consists of over 85,000 different characters! You’ll also have to learn the three writing systems – kanji, katakana, and hiragana.


Academic research shows it takes 2,200 classroom hours or 88 weeks to achieve language proficiency, which is the ability to use about 3,000 words in normal conversation.

Diving into a new language with non-stop studying can be setting yourself up for failure since you can be consumed by frustration. Instead, try to segment your study time, use fun apps that utilize games, flashcards, and build your vocabulary by talking to a native speaker. Learning these languages is a marathon, not a sprint.

Language Difficulty

With enough dedication and hard work, those 88 weeks will go by in a flash.

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