When I started learning Chinese, overconfidence led to me thinking it was "easy". However as I progress, I realize not only how little I know, but also how ignorant I was early on: I was completely unaware of huge aspects of the Chinese language. Having studied for years, I now feel fairly comfortable with the common assessment that Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn as a native English speaker.
However, I recall early on talking to other people also learning Chinese who shared my assessment as Chinese as "easy". It seems I was not the only one with overconfidence. Hence...
Question: Is there an observable Dunning-Kruger-style effect whereby the most difficult languages for a student to learn are initially considered easy?
I'm wondering what research has been done on this topic. (To be clear, this question is not limited to learning Chinese as a native English speaker: that's just my motivation for asking.) I found one paper, but it's behind a paywall so I can only see this:
High performers aligned their self-ratings with their actual performance over time. In contrast, low performers showed limited progress towards alignment.
Saitoa, Trofimovich, Abe, In'nami, Dunning-Kruger effect in second language speech learning: How does self perception align with other perception over time?, Learning and Individual Differences, 2020.
So I don't know what how "alignment" is defined, and what this really means, but it seems to indicate that beginners make inaccurate assessments of their language level.