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How long does it take to learn a new language?

Learning a new language is a fascinating journey that opens doors to new cultures, experiences and opportunities. However, a frequently asked question is: How long will it take me to master a new language? The answer to this question varies depending on a number of factors, from the complexity of the language to the time and effort put in by the learner. In this article, we will explore the different elements that influence the time needed to learn a new language and guide the reader on how to maximise the efficiency of this exciting process.


Language Complexity

The complexity of a language plays a crucial role in determining the time needed to learn it. Some languages share structural or grammatical similarities with the learner’s native language, which facilitates the learning process. On the other hand, languages that are very different in phonetic or grammatical aspects may require more time and effort.

For example, for a French speaker, learning Spanish might be easier and faster compared to learning Chinese. Since both French and Spanish are Romance languages, they share many similarities. This is not the case with Chinese or other Asian languages.


Exposure and Practice                   

The time of exposure a learner has to the language also influences his or her ability to learn it. Total immersion, such as living in a country where the language is spoken, can significantly accelerate the learning process. Regular exposure to conversations, media and everyday situations in the target language helps improve fluency and comprehension.


In addition, constant practice is essential to internalise vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. This can be achieved through various activities: frequent conversations with native speakers, listening to music or watching films in the target language, and participating in language exchanges.


Motivation and Persistence

Motivation and persistence play a key role in the process of learning a new language. Maintaining a positive attitude and being motivated to achieve linguistic goals can make a difference in how quickly a language is learned. Those who are intrinsically motivated and have a genuine interest tend to devote more time and effort to study and practice, which accelerates their progress.


Persistence is also key, as learning can have its challenges and moments of frustration. Those who are able to overcome obstacles and continue practising even when facing difficulties are more likely to achieve long-term language proficiency.


Learning Methodology

The learning methodology employed can also influence the time needed to learn a new language. The learner may opt for a structured approach (with lectures and a specific syllabus) or a more informal method (such as the use of apps or online resources).


Combining these approaches, including a variety of activities such as listening, speaking, reading and writing, can be beneficial in maximising language retention and comprehension. Tailoring the learning methodology to individual preferences can help optimise the process and reduce the time needed to achieve fluency.


Desired Proficiency Level

The time needed to learn a new language also depends on the desired level. Those seeking simply to acquire basic communication skills for travelling or interacting in social situations may achieve that goal in a relatively short period of time, while those aiming for complete mastery of the language, including fluency and understanding of regional dialects, may require years of dedicated study.


It is important to set realistic and achievable goals when starting the learning process, and to adjust expectations as progress is made.



In summary, the time needed to learn a new language depends on many factors. While some can achieve fluency in a language in a matter of months with the right combination of circumstances and effort, others may need years to reach their language goals. The most important thing is to adopt a consistent and committed approach to learning, enjoy the process and celebrate achievements along the way to mastery of the new language.