Learning a new language can boost your brain power. But is learning an easy language better for your brain than mastering a difficult one? Difficulty in mastering a new language will depend on how similar it is to the one you already know. For example, if you speak Spanish, learning French would be easier since the verb forms are similar and many grammar rules are also identical.
But what about a radically different language?
Most of the Asian languages do not share a lot with the Latin-Germanic family of languages and thus English speakers may find these difficult.
Here is a list of the most difficult Asian languages.
For an English speaker from the west, Japanese could be a very hard language to learn. Apart from the language and its grammar, even the Japanese culture is vastly different from the western world. It belongs to a family of languages called the Japanese-Ryukyuan. Their writing is divided between two simple alphabets and several thousand Chinese characters called the Kanji. While the Chinese have simplified their characters, the Japanese have opted to stay with the old ones, making Japanese one of the hardest languages to learn.
Many people think the Chinese have a language called ‘Chinese’. That is incorrect. The Chinese speak either Mandarin or Cantonese or a dialect of one of these two main languages. While they say Cantonese is smooth flowing and (relatively) easy to learn, Mandarin is a tough language to master. Apart from its immense number of characters, the difficulty lies in its tonal nature i.e. same word conveys a different meaning when the tone changes. Mandarin does not have an alphabet like English. Each word is represented by a character and there are enough of those to make you learn the language for 20 years and still not be done.
Thai is another hard to learn language from Asia. It belongs to Tai-Kadai family of languages that consists of 95 different languages from Southeast Asia. Their alphabet contains 44 consonants, 15 vowel sounds and 4 diacritic marking tones. It has borrowed a lot of words from Sanskrit, the Indian language which is considered to be the mother of all languages. There is a big variance between the written and spoken language and the biggest of all is the tones used in the spoken language.
While most of the European languages belong to the Indo-European language family, Hungarian is an exception. It comes from Finno-Ugric family and has absolutely no connection with English or any other language. Words and phrases exist in a completely different way than English. There are 26 different cases of grammar rules which are very hard to understand, master and use. Suffixes dictate the tense of the word instead of the word order.
If you start with any one of these, be prepared to spend a couple of years. It takes a lot of practice and dedication to be reasonably good at any of these languages.