How Long Does it Really Take to Learn a Language

Being a blogger exposes me to different things, I have to be in the know about what language learners want to know and what kind of questions they’re typing into Google (and God forbid, Bing as well). So essentially, I see what questions the majority of English speaking language learners are burning to have answered and one of the most common ones is the following: How long does it take to learn a language? Well, you’re in luck, English speaking language learner! I’m happy to impart my knowledge to make your language learning a lot less of a giant grey area. So let’s not stall anymore and get right into it! How long does it take to learn a language? Well it depends on a few things. Let review them shall we?


1. The Language Itself

How long it takes you to learn a language depends on the language you are learning itself. According to FSI Language Difficulty Chart, certain languages are more difficult than others for English language learners to pick up and therefore take longer.


As you can see, if you are like me (and hate yourself) and chose all the languages in blue at the bottom, you will be on a long journey to master your language so get comfy!


2. Your Schedule

Sure the chart up there says that you can learn Hindi in 23 weeks, but that’s a ballpark number. If you’re a working joe, a full-time student, or just don’t have all day to devote to language study, then you will probably take more than 23 weeks. While we all dream about speaking Japanese (or whatever language) in three months, in reality, how fast you pick up your language depends on how long you can dedicate to studying each day. Language learning is 50% method and 50% time and effort. So your schedule is a VERY important part of your language learning process. Period. If you plan to study 1 hour a day, except on weekends, then stick to it and you’ll learn your language! Will you learn it fast that way? Nope! But who cares about learning fast. You need to learn well not fast, people! Just set weekly and monthly goals so that you can track your progress and your pace. From there you can tell what else you need to improve, how fast you’re learning and how long it will take you to go from beginner to intermediate and so on.


3. Your Environment

If you surround yourself with native speakers of your target language, interact with some in some form or fashion, or are immersed in the language somehow then great! If you don’t have native speakers around, then find an immersion program or an app that lets you talk to native speakers like iTalki when you have some free time. You can also try to integrate the target language into your daily life by changing the language on your phone, laptop, watch the news, tv, movies, listen to music, and read articles and novels in your target language. The more you immerse yourself, the deeper your language understanding gets and the faster you will retain knowledge.


4. Your Discipline

Let’s face it, there are many days you won’t feel like lifting a finger, let alone studying 20 new vocabulary words and spending an hour or so watching videos in your target language. However, you must power through! Push through the lack of motivation and the lack of overall energy and excitement. Language learning like any skill must be practiced, honed and practiced again. Unlike what is being marketed to you online, there is no secret formula that can make you learn a language faster, it’s all about your hard work.


5. Your Method

The other really really important thing that determines how long it will take to learn a language is how you actually study the language. In an earlier post, I talk about some methods and resources you should try depending on your learning style. The WAY you study is very very very important. If you have a lazy method or no planned method at all, you will find yourself making little or NO progress at all. So plan you weekly study plan carefully and think about what would really help you learn, enjoy learning (as much as possible) and help you RETAIN what you learn, otherwise, it will take you longer to go back and review what you forgot! So take a second to create a ‘curriculum’ for your language study, and you will find yourself greatly rewarded.


Hope that helps!!! Happy learning!

What burning language learning questions do you have? What are you language learning grey areas?


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