The easiest and cheapest languages to learn

The easiest and cheapest languages to learn

Comments2 comments

Learning a foreign language? Dutch, French, Spanish, German and Italian are the quickest languages to learn – but also among the most expensive per hour.

Voucherbox.co.uk has looked into the costs and necessary hours for English speakers to start learning a new language from scratch and go all the way through to fluency.

The data was compiled using the average prices from a cost-per-hour language learning website, and calculating the estimated expenses of learning 28 languages from around the world.

As well as the cost per hour, the research also looked into the difficulty of learning each language, with average hours needed ranging from 600 hours to a staggering 2,200 hours.

The 28 languages were picked from around the world and included European languages such as Spanish, Italian and French, as well as the more exotic languages such as Persian, Mandarin and Thai.

The cheapest and easiest foreign languages to learn

Many European languages were ranked as the most expensive langages to learn based on cost per hour, with Dutch costing an average of £18.71, German £16.02, French £13.62, Italian £11.67 and Spanish £10.26. Some of the cheapest languages to learn were more than half as cheap, for example Urdu cost an average of £6.24 per hour, Hindi £6.79 and Arabic £8.89. Other expensive languages to learn included Turkish at £18.27 per hour Hebrew £14.44, Mandarin GBP 13.35 and Japanese £11.08.

The high costs of learning European languages, however, are offset by the fact that several European languages are also the easiest to learn, based on the calculated hours required time to master that language. The easiest languages to learn included Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Romanian, with an estimated 600 hours of study required to become fluent, with German close behind requiring only 750 hours to learn. This contrasts vastly with more difficult languages such as Arabic, Madarin, Japanese and Korean which take an average of 2,200 hours to learn, pushing up overall costs.

Combining both hourly costs and hours required, it was discovered that Indonesian was the overall cheapest language for English speakers to learn, costing around GBP 5,175 in total or GBP 6.35 per hour for around 900 hours of study. At the other end of the scale, Korean was the most expensive language to study for English speakers with a staggering price of GBP 41,155 or £18.71 per hour for 2,200 hours of study.

Average requirements to learn a foreign language

The table of languages, the hours to learn and average hourly cost, along with an overall learning cost, are detailed in the table below

 

Language

Difficulty (Hours)

Ave cost per hour

Overall cost to fluency

1

Indonesian

900

£6.35

£5,715

2

Portuguese

600

£10.23

£6,138

3

Spanish

600

£10.26

£6,157

4

Swedish

600

£10.32

£6,191

5

Romanian

600

£10.83

£6,500

6

Urdu

1100

£6.24

£6,864

7

Italian

600

£11.67

£7,004

8

Hindi

1100

£6.79

£7,466

9

Danish

600

£12.47

£7,484

10

French

600

£13.62

£8,171

11

Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)

1100

£7.50

£8,250

12

Polish

1100

£9.03

£9,932

13

Serbian

1100

£9.85

£10,834

14

Greek

1100

£10.18

£11,195

15

Dutch

600

£18.71

£11,224

16

Russian

1100

£10.31

£11,338

17

Croatian

1100

£10.51

£11,556

18

Latvian

1100

£10.51

£11,556

19

German

750

£16.02

£12,013

20

Bulgarian

1100

£11.82

£12,999

21

Czech

1100

£11.82

£12,999

22

*Thai

1100

£12.80

£14,082

23

Hebrew

1100

£14.44

£15,886

24

Arabic

2200

£8.89

£19,548

25

Turkish

1100

£18.27

£20,097

26

Japanese

2200

£11.08

£24,375

27

Mandarin (Chinese)

2200

£13.35

£29,367

28

Korean

2200

£18.71

£41,155

Overall costs of learning a foreign language 

The results showed that although Indonesian took longer to learn than easier languages – with around 900 hours needed from start to finish – it had a cheaper average hourly rate of tuition of GPB 6.35, meaning the overall cost was the lowest.

Coming in at second place as the overall cheapest language was Portuguese, with a total cost of GBP 6,138. The differences to Indonesian were that although the hourly price was a costly GBP 10.23, only 600 hours were needed to speak fluently.

This was followed by Spanish, which ranked as the third cheapest language to learn with a total cost of GBP 6,157. This included 600 hours of language priced at GBP 10.26 per hour.

In terms of typical school-taught languages within the UK, it’s those who study German compared to French that should be pleasantly surprised. Within the research, it was revealed that students on German courses at school could save GBP 12,013 compared to just GBP 8,171 if they had chosen to learn French.

Tipping the costly end of the scale as the most expensive languages to study included Korean, Mandarin and Japanese.

To learn Korean, you must set aside a whopping GBP 41,155, as well as dedicating 2,200 hours to the language. It was revealed that besides being one of the most difficult languages to learn, it also costs around GBP 18.71 per hour, the most expensive hourly rate in this study.

Mandarin, also referred to as Chinese, will set you back a total of GBP 29,367, while Japanese is also expensive, priced at an average total of GBP 24,375 to learn.

Shane Forster, UK country manager for Voucherbox.co.uk, said, "The information we uncovered was quite startling. Although we understand that few people would end up learning a full language at an hourly rate, our calculations can be used as a way of working out the cost expectancy for studying various languages.

“Even with a tuition bundle discount, such as a crash course, Korean is still highly likely to cost much more than Portuguese or Spanish due to the higher rates of tuition and the recommended time taken to learn the language.

“Our calculations also don’t take into account the cost of learning materials such as textbooks which would also be necessary in learning a language, with harder languages likely requiring more resources than easier ones, which would additionally raise the cost.

“We think this is really interesting research when taking the summer season into account, when many people may be looking to jet off somewhere abroad for a holiday or explore the world."

The cost of breaking the language barrier

Voucherbox.co.uk / Expatica

Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.

If you believe any of the information on this page is incorrect or out-of-date, please let us know. Expatica makes every effort to ensure its articles are as comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date as possible, but we're also grateful for any help! (If you want to contact Expatica for any other reason, please follow the instructions on this website's contact page.)


Captcha Note: Characters are case sensitive
The details you provide on this page will not be used to send any unsolicited e-mail, and will not be sold to a third party. Privacy policy .
 
 

Job FairBe Yourself. Be Discovered. Get hired. Don't miss Expatica’s International Job Fair: register at jobfair.expatica.com for an access-all pass and online discount.



 
Expat Fair Join the “i am not a tourist” Expat Fair for Internationals living, working and studying in the Netherlands. Get your FREE tickets here.
 


2 Comments To This Article

  • Judah posted:

    on 29th July 2016, 20:31:41 - Reply

    Fantastic list! How did you come up with the amount of time to learn a language?

    Learning with a private, live teacher is more effective than learning in a classroom or with groups.

  • AndrewWeiler posted:

    on 19th July 2016, 09:21:18 - Reply

    It is a mistake to be led by what is the cheapest or the easiest. Learning a language requires passion and dedication, so what should drive you is what language you are drawn to. You are then much more likely to be moved to work on it.
    Any language is eminently learnable if you are driven to do so. Even the easiest language won't be learned if you are not inspired to learn it. So make sure you really want to learn it. Then look for the means to do so..in ways you enjoy and makes you feel that you
    a) want to continue
    b) are learning something
    c) your confidence is growing.
    If even one of these criteria is missing, then more than likely you will end up giving it away before you reach the level you desire.