English and Spanish are easy. Japanese and German are hard. I have heard variations on these claims many times over the years, and my answer has always remained the same; no language is easy to learn, or perhaps more accurately, no language can be spoken fluently without a considerable amount of effort to reach that level.
Malcolm Gladwell’s claim that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something may have been discredited in regard to sports, but in relation to language learning, I think he is on to something, and we should take note.
Both those who are learning a foreign language for their job as well as those who manage them should be realistic in their expectations. A learner should not expect to reach “near native” proficiency in six months. A manager should not expect an employee to competently and confidently lead international negotiations in English if they were at an intermediate level 3 months ago, and have had one lesson a week since then.
Learning a language, any language, takes time for the normal learner. Yes, there are some gifted people out there who can learn a language in two weeks, but for the large majority of us, with families and work commitments, it is a long, slow journey to proficiency with the odd embarrassing mistake along the way.