The US Foreign Service Institute rates languages on a scale of how easy they are to learn for English speakers.
The Foreign Service Institute of the Department (FSI) of State has compiled approximate learning expectations for a number of languages based on the length of time it takes to achieve Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3) and Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3). The list is limited to languages taught at the Foreign Service Institute.
It must be kept in mind that that students at FSI are almost 40 years old, are native speakers of English. and have a good aptitude for formal language study, plus knowledge of several other foreign languages. They study in small classes of no more than 6. Their schedule calls for 25 hours of class per week with 3-4 hours per day of directed self-study.
Here are the rankings:
Category I: Languages closely related to English
23-24 weeks (575-600 class hours)
Other languages [This category appeared at the end, but I sorted it according to the length of time to learn the languages.]
- German 30 weeks (750 class hours)
- Indonesian, Malaysian, Swahili 36 weeks (900 class hours)
Category II: Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English
44 weeks (1100 class hours)
- Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
Category III: Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers 88 weeks (second year of study in-country)
(2200 class hours)
* Languages preceded by asterisks are typically somewhat more difficult for native English speakers to learn than other languages in the same category.
Do you agree with the rankings?