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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

Difficult languages...

Which languages have you learnt that you have found difficult but continued because you enjoyed learning it nonetheless?

I am asking this because I feel that so many people (including me in the past) have asked which language they should learn through "Which language is the easiest?"

I don't think any of us should feel discouraged if a language is a bit difficult (it's subjective, anyway!) - it's important to know that it's not always the easiest languages that we love & enjoy the most!

Out of the languages I'm focussed on right now, my most difficult is Portuguese - but it just so happens to also be one of my favourite languages! & That's what motivates me to stick with it.

July 13, 2017

36 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yell-heah

My favourite language is Turkish. I've stopped and started it so many times over the years, always quitting because I get discouraged at making no progress and because I find it so difficult. But... I really like it, it's the only language I have constant motivation for, so I'm determined to stick with it.

I think if someone's just casually looking to learn a language, there's nothing wrong with looking for an easier one. But if you really love a language... just learn it, regardless of the difficulty, it might make your brain melt but it'll be worth it in the end.

(Also, hooray for Portuguese! Eu ...learn-o português, but I only know about 50 palavras so far, hah. People always say that Romance languages are easy, but I've always struggled with them! But again, like with Turkish, I'm determined to not give up this time. :P)

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

I like Turkish a lot - I only started learning it recently but I've actually put it to one side while I focus on French, Italian and Spanish. True, there's nothing wrong with wanting an easier language to learn. But, like you say, it's also worth sticking with a difficult one if you develop such a liking to it! :)

As for romance languages, I actually find it relatively hard to learn any other languages, because I grew up learning nothing but romance languages so I'm more used to them I suppose (even though I just said that Portuguese was my most difficult - which it is!).

Keep it up :)

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fischerfs

Level 8 in HV already, damn. Is it easy? Also, have you come close to finishing the course?

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yell-heah

Hmm, I'd say it's on the difficult side of average, lol. The four genders and adjective declensions are taking a while to get used to, but as long as I keep checking my notes things aren't too hard. And no, I guess I'm about a third of the way through, I've completed the first checkpoint. :)

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fischerfs

Ah, nice. Well good luck progressing!

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaphinga

Yeah, I really enjoyed Turkish, too. It was a huge challenge at first because it was so unlike any other language I had experienced. It was tempting to give up at first, but the persistence was well worth it.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LavethWolf

Russian, It's a hard language. But thinking about all the things I can use it for motivate me to continue learning it. Just thinking about all those Books, Cartoons, Movies, Video Games, and the wealth of information that I would be able to read online ( like more Karelian material ) once I learn Russian is exciting. Not to mention it sounds quite pleasing to the ear.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

I've been considering Russian next. It's between that and Ukrainian.

Good luck with your Russian, it's good to have motivations like that because I feel like it's easier to learn a hard language that you have motivation for, than to learn an easy language that you have no motivation for :).

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

Karelian material? Would there be some of that here? I've never ordered from them, but if I begin Swedish I'll probably enjoy doing so. Maybe you'll like looking around the site, too, as it offers material for several languages.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LavethWolf

Thanks for the website, I'll be sure to save that link for later use.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

You're welcome. I should have written, "material for several Scandinavian languages." IMHO, it's rather cool to have a Russian site/shop dedicated to this.

. . . Neat. I just now noticed that I have a book by the author (Стеблин-Каменский) of # 8, well one of the # 8's, on their "hits" list--same publisher, too, but Old Norse rather than Norwegian. (Not that I've learned Old Norse from it, you understand. :)) And their price is less than half of the same book (maybe a later edition) on the site I usually order from.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeoK.2005

I totally agree! I love Portuguese, but however I find French harder to speak and receive through the speakers

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaz2ooo

wow very true!! my hard language is Ukrainian but i stick with because i'm determined to learn!!!;)

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

Keep it up! May I ask, was there anything in particular that made/makes you want to learn Ukrainian? I'm just interested because I don't know of many other people who are learning it :)

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tim.ForzaFerrari

CHINEESE

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fischerfs

I have found Polish quite hard. This was the language I started Duolingo with, and prior I had no idea what a case was, so when I found them I was taken by surprise. It was also back when I used mobile, so there were no notes for it. This means that I found it relatively easy to translate from Polish, but found myself kinda stuck with cases, genders and plural forms when translating to Polish since I hadn't revised them enough. I understand them now but it means having to go over everything to understand how they work in Polish. Turkish is hard but only because it's different. It's easy to understand why things are the way they are but the grammar is different.

I was told Hungarian was really hard for English speakers but I've been finding it somewhat average. It's easier than I expected. People often say the cases and the fact that it's agglutinative makes it difficult but these are easy to wrap your head around. The only challenge has just been remembering to type the right thing haha

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

I've never heard of cases (probably because I've never learnt Polish!). Sounds intriguing..and difficult!

I've heard Hungarian's very hard for English speakers too, maybe you find it easier because of your knowledge of previous languages? Well either way, a language can simply be difficult for one person and easy for another I suppose :-)

And although I've not done much Turkish as of yet, I do agree with you about the grammar.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fischerfs

I think you may come across cases in Turkish and probably Ukrainian very soon. They're easy to understand so learning them beforehand helps, but going through the lessons and not realising why words change is a bad idea haha, so don't do what I did.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

Thanks for the heads up! I'm focussed on French, Spanish and Italian for the time being (free of cases!), but I do plan to go back to Ukrainian and certainly Turkish soon after.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mallumregxo

I think the hardest part is to keep motivated, especialy when you're trying to teach yourself, another fact is when you see the most successful language learners, they're very social persons so for them is very easy to find partners to speak and learn, share knowledge, so on...as you said, the language never will make you feel discouraged, are the external facts like maybe lack of money, good habits, social issues, so on, of course, this is the way I see it.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BarbaraCha360905

My favourite language is Japanese, and for an English-speaker it is very difficult.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

Russian probably stands out the most. I've always found the words hard to commit to memory. Thankfully, at long last it's now getting easier.

July 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeoK.2005

Why don't you think Ukrainian is easier to learn than Portuguese?

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

I don't know Portuguese or Ukrainian, but I do know quite a bit of Russian and Spanish, which make up a quite analogous pair, and I'd say Russian is definitely harder than Spanish for an English speaker (i.e., Ukrainian is probably harder than Portuguese). It's true that Russian has fewer verb tenses, but aspect makes the verbs just as difficult (or more so, for me), and Russian has all the case endings to get used to, whereas Spanish does not; as well, word order in Spanish is much more like in English than word order in Russian.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

Definitely, I agree that cases make Russian and Ukrainian (among other languages) that bit harder.

But we have to remember that Spanish, your comparison, is often ranked one of the easiest languages to learn. Portuguese grammar and pronunciation is considered more difficult than Spanish so I wouldn't want to assimilate those two too much. So, while Russian and Ukrainian are harder than Spanish, it might be a different question for Portuguese.

I've seen a lot of people say they think Ukrainian is a fairly easy language compared to Russian (particularly in terms of word order, which you mentioned isn't easy in Russian).

So - with Portuguese being harder in my opinion than Spanish, and Ukrainian being easier in my opinion than Russian - there's possibility that Ukrainian isn't harder than Portuguese. Maybe these are two languages floating "between" Spanish and Russian in terms of difficulty :-)

Then again, they're so different that it's so hard to compare them, & the difficulty of languages is subjective as always!

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

> Maybe these are two languages floating "between" Spanish and Russian in terms of difficulty :-)

That could very well be right. I definitely don't know enough about Portuguese and Ukrainian to speak w/ any authority at all. But there is this fairly standard rating for English speakers.

FWIW, I am sure that if I took up Ukrainian right now, the Russian I know would interfere, as w/ Spanish and Portuguese for you. That kind of thing is quite annoying--it would drive me up a tree right now with Ukrainian--but it does fade after a time. W/ Spanish, when I already had much stronger French, things weren't quite so bad/annoying. What constantly tripped me up, actually, was using the wrong personal articles and definite articles in Duo lessons--Spanish in a French sentence and vice versa--as I was doing French for Spanish speakers. But when expressing my own thoughts or when reading, it hasn't seemed much of a problem. Thank heavens.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

That language difficulty ranking is interesting - I agree with it especially in terms of proximity to the English language, but whether that always correlates with difficulty I'm not sure?

Yep, with such similar languages it's definitely good to learn one well and become secure in it before we start the other. Imagine trying to learn Russian and Ukrainian from scratch at the same time and trying not to get confused!

Never considered doing French for Spanish speakers before - or advancing any 2 languages that way - did you find it helpful? I might give that a go.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

Trying to learn Russian and Ukrainian or any other pair of Slavic languages at the same time would be for me a nightmare! Surely also would be learning two Romance languages or two Germanic languages at once ab intitio. I'd be so confused. As you say, "It's definitely good to learn one well and become secure in it before we start the other."

French for Spanish speakers course was plenty of fun, and I'll prob. use it for practice again in the future. Caveat: I was just playing around and did not go all the way through the tree, nor did I intend to, so it's possible that the end of the course would not be as fun--but I bet it would be. Several other such courses for and/or from Russian were good practice, too.

What for me was espec. nice about FfSs was that it demanded great care not to slip up by transposing similar words from one language to another. For instance, if I wrote "le" when I should have written "el" or "sont" when I should have written "son," it would catch me every time. The same w/, usually, related nouns. It is sort of an antidote to confusing the two languages, if you see what I mean. It seems to me that once one of the members of two related languages is well assimilated studying them both together is not only rather fun but quite beneficial. I'd be very interested to hear if you like studying that way, or not, should you try it.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

Agreed!! I tried learning Swedish and Norwegian at the same time once and let's just say it didn't work out - again, too similar!

That's really interesting, I'm definitely going to do that (or maybe French for Italian speakers or vice versa). You'd think at first that studying two romance languages together in that way might be confusing, but it sounds like the complete opposite and I can understand why now.

FfSs and the like are much less forgiving in the "small (but significant)" errors, right? - e.g. el/le, son/sont like you said - which seems like a big reason why it helps you to progress better in the two languages. Sounds good to me :)

[update] Just started doing FfSs and I'm liking it so far. Hopefully it will soon come more naturally to me to translate from FR straight to ES because I'm currently translating from French, to English and then to Spanish!

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

I've got to say I would really find it a stretch to posit that Ukrainian is somehow easier for English speakers than Portuguese.

I guess I can buy that Portuguese is a little bit more difficult than Spanish: future subjunctive would probably be enough to achieve that. What prepositions go with which verbs is probably also a bit more unintuitive. But it's still a language with loads of familiar vocabulary. It still doesn't have Slavic-style aspect. It still doesn't have cases.

Yes, I think Ukrainian is a bit more phonetic than Russian (Portuguese really is pretty phonetic, too, it's just that the sounds the letters correspond to are more surprising than for Spanish coming from English). I'm confused by the "particularly in terms of word order" comment. Russian basic word order is largely the same as English. So is Ukrainian's. The reason Russian's word order is difficult is that it's more flexible, but that just comes with having cases, so I'd assume Ukrainian is pretty similar on that count.

July 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

I agree to an extent definitely. I can't say which is the easiest for all English speakers however I am speaking on behalf of myself: I find Ukrainian easier, maybe due to having links with it and maybe because it's different for everyone.

July 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenshero

I reckon Ukrainian is a bit easier than Portuguese once you're secure in the Cyrillic alphabet, because the pronunciation is very straightforward as it is much more of a phonetic language than Portuguese :)

(Also, I get a little mixed up between Spanish and Portuguese which I think slows down my progress a little, whereas I'm not learning any languages that are similar to Ukrainian.)

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeoK.2005

I also sometimes get confused in Portuguese with the English "A" or the Portuguese "Uma" and the English "A" and the Portuguese "A" which translates to The, it gets to be so confusing

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

The Hungarian word a also means "the" :)

July 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeoK.2005

Oh really, very cool

July 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaz2ooo

i love this post! im cheesey:)

July 13, 2017
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