First of all, no language is easy to learn. But the degree of difficulty will depend on your circumstances: How willing you are to learn, what materials are at your disposal, how competent your teacher is, or if you have any at all, are self-learning, what other languages do you know that can serve as background for your new language, also how often you practice. My son is learning Japanese as a second language and he's doing quite well, primarily because he knows Korean and Chinese, both of which are a bit similar to Japanese. He also meets with his tutor from Preply.com ( http://preply.com/en/japanese-by-skype ) regularly and has a Japanese friend he practices with.
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"School students get a lesson once a week if they’re lucky, for less than an hour. "
But this won't cut it. I get regular Japanese lessons on Skype from Preply.com ( http://preply.com/en/japanese-by-skype ) and it's just enough for me to master the language. So I'm imagining that a less-than-an-hour weekly class will not help these kids at all to learn a new language, even if it's something popular like English.
If you want to learn something new, especially if it's something as complex as a foreign language, you need to practice constantly and consistently. Learning a few words/phrases/rules once in a while will get you nowhere.
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