Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Languages NOT offered on Duolingo for Anglophones (by category)
The following are only those currently not offered or not planned as per official announcements:
Category 1 (23-24 weeks): Close to English (10 languages)
Category 2 (30 weeks): Similar to English (1 language: German)
Category 3 (36 weeks): Linguistic/Cultural differences from English (3 languages)
Category 4 (44 weeks): Significant Linguistic/Cultural differences from English (42 languages)
- Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
Category 5 (88 weeks): Exceptionally difficult for native English speakers (5 languages)
Learn Dutch, then spend a few weeks immersing yourself in Afrikaans. The results will be impressive.
The FSI bases a lot of their rankings on grammar, which is why Danish is ranked among the easiest of languages to learn. The grammar may be simple, but the pronunciation is extremely difficult for an English speaker.
At the other end of the scale we see Farsi, which is an extremely simple language in terms of grammar, with a surprising number of cognates with English. It's only placed where it is because of cultural differences and the script.
I've always taken most of the FSI rankings with a grain of salt, as they're based on the perspective of monolingual English speakers and are rather oddly ordered. :)
Icelandic as a category IV language, ahead of Swahili? Come on, guys. It's a Germanic language with a huge number of Englsh cognates, the cultural gap is narrow, and it's structured in a very similar way to German. It's a little more complex, but not that much.
The supposedly easier Swahili takes most of its vocab from Arabic and Bantu languages, and features noun classes and other features which are totally alien to English speakers.
I wasn't having a go at you at all- I'm genuinely sorry if it came across that way. I was criticising their method, not your post, which is actually very informative!
Sorry, sarcasm doesn't carry well in text. I would know, it's my default method of communication. :)
I think the FSI list is not all that accurate. I find it hard to believe that Slavic languages or the Persian languages (all of them Indo-European) are as hard to learn as Georgian, Mongolian, Xhosa, Zulu, etc.
I found another list of language difficulty out there that is much more comprehensive and accurate IMHO. The author even explains why the languages in question are difficult or easy:
And in honesty, Xhosa and Zulu aren't THAT difficult either, they're just different.
Would you say learning languages like Korean and Japanese would take more or less time than required by FSI?
The FSI time scales are based on hours of classroom learning using the FSI's methods, so the amount of time it actually takes you to learn any of the above languages will depend entirely on which resources you use and how much time you have to devote to learning.
The two you mentioned will take longer than most others, but the factors are too many to state how long it will take you.
Can you give any input on how FSI teaches their classes? Does it seem pretty efficient or do you think many people have developed their own better methods?
It's a nice list but again it's not very reliable. I could learn fluent Arabic much faster than Maylaysian because I live near several Mosques and have Arabic classes at my school yet I'm no where near anything Maylaysian. It's all about your situation, will, resources, and needs.
I don't know where you live, but I think this list is based on monolingual Americans. Obviously, if someone grew up in South Korea, then a neighboring East Asian language might come easier than German for them. Once again, this is for monolingual Americans.
Ah, yes. I'm American not Israeli. I am American but I'm at a point where I have no idea if I'm mono or bilingual. I was just trying to point something out for anyone who wasn't aware that it depends on your situation.
Thanks for the list :)
A Malay course is on the way. Indonesian and Malay are considered different languages politically, but from a linguistic point of view they're the same language; the differences are tiny. https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/id/en/status.