THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?
People often ask which language is the most difficult to learn, and it is not easy to answer because there are many factors to take into consideration.
A native speaker of Spanish, for example, will find Portuguese much easier to learn than a native speaker of Chinese because Portuguese is very similar to Spanish, while Chinese is very different. The greater the differences between the second language and our first one, the harder it will be for most people to learn.
Many people answer that Chinese is the hardest language to learn possibly influenced by the thought of learning the Chinese writing system. The pronunciation of Chinese appears to be very difficult for many foreign learners, too. However, for Japanese speakers, who already use Chinese characters in their own language, learning this language will be less difficult than for speakers of languages using the Roman alphabet.
Some people seem to learn languages readily, while others find it very difficult. Teachers and the circumstances in which the language is learned also play an important role, as well as each learner’s motivation for learning. If people learn a language because they need to use it professionally, they often learn it faster than people studying a language that has no direct use in their day-to-day life.
British diplomats and other embassy staff have found that the second hardest language is Japanese, which will probably come as no surprise to many. But the language that they have found to be the most problematic is Hungarian, which has 35 grammatical cases.
Different cultures and individuals from those cultures will find different languages more difficult. In the case of Hungarian for British learners, it is not a question of the writing system, which uses a similar alphabet, but the grammatical complexity, though native speakers of related languages may find it easier.
The author explains why people find Chinese a very difficult language to learn.
Find this extract and read it aloud.
3. What factors play an important role in learning a language?
4. Why do British diplomats find it difficult to learn Hungarian?
II. Listen to the boy speaking about a football match and answer the questions below.
1. What sort of match did Tom play?
2. How did Tom's team play during the match?
3. What was the result of the game?
III. Let's talk about a healthy way of life.
I. 1. Read the article and say in 2—3 sentences what it is about.
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