The Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State conducted a research focused on learning expectations for native English speakers looking to achieve speaking and reading proficiency in different foreign languages. The factors taken into consideration were the complexity of the language, resources available, the amount of hours devoted to study each week, and student motivation.
The easiest languages include Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian and require just 23-24 weeks of study, or 575-600 class hours, to achieve proficiency, and are the easiest because of their closeness to English.
The most difficult languages — Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Japanese — require, on average, 1.69 years (88 weeks), or 2,200 class hours, to reach speaking and reading proficiency.
Each of the four "hard" languages has its own reasons to be in this group. Arabic's lack of vowels makes reading difficult for an English-speaking native, while Japanese and Chinese require the memorization of over a thousand unique characters.
Which is your second language?
Which language seems to be difficult to learn for you?
Which language would you like to learn?