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Is English the World’s Hardest Language?

Learn a Foreign Language, Learning Languages, Rosetta Stone

Growing up, one thing I always heard was, “English is the hardest language for a person of foreign origin to learn.” American English, compared to British English, contains many words not of English origin but we use them on a daily basis, such as raccoon, squash, and sugar. It is not wrong to say English as we know it in the United States to be a melting pot of words and sounds – and in some words, lack of sounds even though an otherwise sounded letter appears, such as knife and knave. Speaking as someone who has learned other languages, with the most recent being Persian, it is easy to appreciate English for its seeming simplicity, but that may be due to the fact that is my first language, and not my second language. For me the hardest language to learn was Hungarian, even though I remember some words but not really enough to carry on a conversation with someone in Budapest. Unlike the Latin based languages, of which Persian is one (they just happen to use the Arabic alphabet and not the Roman one), Hungarian is a Ural-Altaic language. The Ural-Altaic family of languages also includes Finnish, Estonian, and Turkish. Spanish and French were easy enough for me back in high school, and periodically looking at a Latin grammar also fascinated me, with all of the verbal conjugations, nouns, and photos of the Roman Empire also included in the book. There could have been more exotic and harder languages for me to learn, to be sure, such as the South African Xhosa, or Chinese, where it is not just the speaking part that is a challenge, but also learning the many pictographs used in the written language for the latter.

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One of the nicest things about learning languages today is not just having a book in front of you but also a CD ROM that prompts you to repeat words and phrases after the instructor. DVD’s are just as handy and useful, such as those put out by Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone uses the immersion procedure, which makes it easy for one to learn a foreign language and start speaking it within minutes. Just like language immersion schools, one can speak about the facts of history or even do math in another language with Rosetta Stone. That brings back memories of learning math in my second year of Persian class, in addition to Iranian holidays such as Yalda and Now Ruz. Those classes were fun and actually helped me to retain a lot of Persian, even if I did not speak it on a daily basis. It’s a commonly held concept that if one does not keep up with a language in spoken and written practice, it can fall into disuse. Thus learning a foreign language in this manner not only broadens cultural knowledge but it also keeps the right side of your brain in excellent shape.