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As the they say in the article, Japanese is classified among the most difficult languages for English speakers by Foreign Service Institute and this is widely cited as a fact. But interestingly, no research data on this was ever published. (The institute presented the facts as based on their internal research, but no methods, results or anything was ever published. Nowadays the original page has disappeared from the internet.)

Bill VanPatten, a linguist that specialises on second/foreign language acquisition lamented this on his podcast, Tea With BVP. According to him, there isn't any published research that shows that one language as a whole would be more difficult as another one for speakers of some other language. (He is not speaking about writing systems but about spoken language there – Japanese has obviously very complicated writing system.)




> Japanese is classified among the most difficult languages for English speakers by Foreign Service Institute

I briefly took Japanese lessons from someone who teaches full time at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA. She confirmed Japanese language's status as "most difficult for English speakers". She also said that DLI groups foreign languages into 4 levels based on how difficult they are to learn for English speakers:

Level 1 (Easiest): Spanish

Level 2: German

Level 3: Russian, Hebrew

Level 4: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic

A more comprehensive listing is here: http://aboutworldlanguages.com/language-difficulty

A hidden gem of a resource that I uncovered at that time: audio + textbook lessons produced by NHK World Radio Japan as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. These lessons are in 17 languages, so they help those who are not native speakers of English too. http://www.nhk.or.jp/lesson/


Anecdotally, it seems true, even if only because learning Kanji is a gargantuan task.




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