Achieving fluency

How many hours of active learning do people need in order to achieve the well-known fluency?Certainly there are several differences among every person,but I would like to know the opinion of all of you

I have the following from the FSI/DLI numbers for native English speakers to be pretty true at least for Spanish. There seems to be some consensus about this from people with more experience.

The hours listed are CLASSROOM hours, and doesn’t take into consideration homework, etc. So, to convert, just take 40 hours and multiple it by number of weeks of learning. If you know a language that is closer to the target language, it’ll be faster.

Fluency is a byproduct of exposure and practice. I think “active learning” in and of itself will never actually make you fluent, and its only practical purpose in my experience is to bring you up to a solid B2 level, after which it’s exposure and practice that actually bring you to fluency.

If you consider the FSI/DLI numbers as quoted above 600hrs over 24 weeks for a Category 1 means that you’d be expected to spend 25hrs a week, probably 5 hrs Monday through Friday for 6 months in a classroom, with “active learning.”

With that pace, I think it’d take you about 3 months to get to a B2 level, after which, the classes would really just be about “studying” with native level content (exposure) and pushing you to speak through in class discussions, writing papers, etc (practice)

If you dedicate the same amount of time into self study at a pace of 1hr per day – which is a reasonable goal for most people. That would mean you could get to “fluency” in 20 months for a Category 1. The first 6 months would probably be dedicated to “active study” to get up to a B2 level. And the remaining 14 months, if you’d read and listen to native content for 1hr a day and find opportunities to speak on a daily bases, you could actually get to fluent in that amount of time.

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My personal goal for myself is to get to my first 1,000 hours primarily reading and listening to things in Spanish and also speaking and writing in Spanish when I have opportunity. I should achieve this goal by the end of 2019. I will be much more “fluent” than I am now at that time, but even now, I’ve seen great improvements from when I started. I average probably around 1.5 hours/day with Spanish, and I’m trying to get that up to 2+ hours/day.


Define fluency. Everyone has a unique definition.

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I refer to the situation of not being lost in the country where the language is spoken.It is also clear that anyone of us has different ideas about different concepts

Some months for languages which are close related to your native one.
Some years or decades for the languages which are quite differet from your native one.

“My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in 30 hours, French in 30 days, and German in 30 years.” – from Mark Twain’s humorous essay entitled “The Awful German Language” in A Tramp Abroad (1880)


Great quote from a pillar of American literature!

I’m sorry, but fluency is NOT “up to your definition.”

Word counts can be measured, and speaking ability can be evaluated. There is no such thing as “it depends what you mean by fluent.”

Fluency is defined as:

  • the ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately.
  • the ability to express oneself easily and articulately.
    A person at upper edge of a C1 level moving into a C2 level and above, could start to be at a level considered “fluent”.

To measure this in LingQ terms, if you’ve amassed a known word count that completes the Advanced Level 2 in your language, AND you’ve had ample speaking practice, you may be in the fluency range.

Since, spoken practice is hard to account for, when people ask about “fluency” on this site, I usually just use the known word count marker as a point of reference. So, “how long to fluent” to me means that person is asking, “how long to 30-40K known words” – because truth is, with that amount of known words, a person can be near fluent even with limited speaking practice.

But again, at the end of all this, fluency is a linguistic term and is not up to your individual definition.


LOL! That might be fun to update with other languages depending on who you are speaking to.

I got it perfectly.But if i referred only to your accurate definitions and examples I could consider a 4 years child to be as fluent as Barack Obama.I know surely that there is a lot of literature of the case with definitions etc. it is only a matter of definitions.

Oh for sure. 1,000 hours of total “Spanish time” should get you your fluency. Unless of course you haven’t done much speaking, then you’ll have your “potential” fluency built up and it’s just a matter of using or “activating” it.

there is always someone that gives definitions.Next time i’ll try to explain my point more accurately.Lacking of vocabulary.I’m really an example(a perfect one)of not reached fluency😆Bye

You must at least admit that interpretation of the linguistic term varies greatly. For example, you say it happens between C1 and C2. Many say it’s B2. Many say it’s native level. Who is right? Maybe you, maybe not. Regardless, if you ask me how long it takes to reach fluency, I’m going to ask you to define it. I’m not trying to upset you, I’m just trying to understand you.

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Hey alex, my comment actually wasn’t aimed at you. You asked a legit question about fluency, it was some of the responses saying “depends on your definition of fluency” that prompted me to say “no, it doesn’t.”

Fluency is a word with a meaning and when it comes to language learning, definitions and distinctions are important.

For example, the distinction between “linguistic fluency” and “eloquence.” Obama and a four year old might both be linguistically fluent, but a Harvard educated legal scholar will express themselves more eloquently than most people — that has to do with social background, age, education level etc etc. But fluency and eloqunence are two different things.

I don’t know, I’ve reached B2 level with four languages so far, and I’ve reached fluency with three of those and native level fluency with one. I’ve also met a ton of people who were fluent, but not native level, as well as people who are conversant, but not quite fluent. So I think I can safely say that B2 is not sufficient for actual, functional fluency, and native level is a different degree all together, which comes years after actual fluency.

Now, if you’re saying that many people don’t quite understand the distinction between these levels, you may be right, but the question at that point shouldn’t be: “what do you mean by fluency” the question should be “are you clear on what fluency means? And if not, let’s define it so we’re both talking about the actual thing.”