Full time language learning - How quick would progress be?

This is just a hypothetical question that has no real answer, and is totally subjective, but I’m interested in peoples opinions.

Let’s say you didn’t work and had all day to learn. Starting at 9am and aside from two half an hour breaks for food, studied until 5pm.

Let’s also say that the learning methods were a few hours at this site, a couple hours on output and a couple hours listening, with maybe an hour on grammar. For a total of 8 hours a day.

If you kept this up 5/6 days a week indefinitely, how soon before you would ‘crack’ the language and start to feel comfortable with understanding and basic everyday conversation?

Also in your opinion, would this method have a greater effect when starting completely fresh with a language or when you’ve hit a brick wall after a year or 2 of learning?

Remember just opinions here, I may try it for a week and see what happens. Thanks.

Your question is missing a very important factor: language transparency. What is your native language or languages you know and what is your target language. That makes a huge difference. I have been studying French, German and Russian for about a year, and since I’m a native Portuguese speaker, I can understand any French texts, but I struggle a bit to understand German texts, and I have a hard time understanding Russian texts, even though I have been devoting most of my study time to Russian.

I am a native English speak and have been learning German for a couple of years. At the moment I am stuck at the point where I know a lot of individual words yet I still have a lot of trouble understanding and don’t even get me started on syntax/grammar.

Even though I have only just started French, it feels simpler to me than German. It just seems logical and I feel I could surpass my German level in 1/4 of the time.

So I suppose the choice is out of those two, which I would benefit from most if I went crazy with the learning.

Well, each language has its easier and harder aspects for a native English speaker, in the end it’s all about which one you’re more motivated to learn.

I’ll give it a shot, though.

If you already know a lot of vocabulary in German, it’s just a matter of time and dedication before you start understanding more. German sentence construction is quite different from English, and I think that’s what causes the most trouble in the ‘know every word, but can’t figure out what it says’ scenario. That can be solved, zum Beispiel, by more exposure, and by reading bilingual texts.

Although German spelling is much easier than French, grammar is much more complex because of the cases. Pronunciation is more or less equivalent in difficulty, in my view, although I have a bit of a harder time with French.

If I’m not mistaken, both languages have a 40% transparency degree in relation to English. That’s not much, apparently, since I know English, and still have a hard time memorizing a lot of German vocabulary, whereas with French (80% transparency with Portuguese) I only have to look up a word a couple of times before they stick.

Anyway, that probably wasn’t much help, and you’re probably more undecided now, but I’d say give each language all the attention you can according to your goals. A little bit everyday of each goes a long way, if you’re consistent.

I find German pronunciation to be pretty much exactly the same as English, with only a few exceptions. Maybe because I’m a native, I don’t know. I also don’t care about casings. I don’t care if I use the wrong word ending or if the tense was wrong etc. To me that sort of thing can be learned quite easily but the syntax is the thing that I can’t get my head around.

French pronunciation seems okay to me too as we spend 5 years learning it in school so even though I left not knowing anything, I had enough exposure to it through my teenage years to fathom out how it should sound.

I understand the consistency aspect, but really I would like opinions on the full time learning part of my original post, and what could be achieved with it. Thanks for your replies though.

Yeah, I just realized I didn’t actually answer your question. Sorry about that.

I’d say if you did it the way you described, you’d be able to “crack” any Germanic or Romance language in six months. That means you’d be able to understand everyday basic conversation and read most texts with the help of a dictionary.

I have verified that myself, as I did it with French in about that time, although I studied a lot less than that each day.

Really 6 months? I have friends who say they went to Germany for 3/4 weeks and began to be able to follow conversations. I know that is immersion but my method should be more intense as it’s ‘focused’ immersion.

I was expecting about a month for German and maybe 3 months for French using the method in my OP. It’s very hard finding people who have done this in Google search to get a good case study.

I would agree that one month of German and 3 months of French should suffice in your case if you followed your OP. But you would have to focus on one at a time.

Sorry, I meant 6 months starting from scratch. In your case, German is, as I said, only a matter of more exposure. Steve’s one month prediction seems plausible to me, although you shouldn’t be disappointed if by the end of four weeks you’re still not where you want to be. Three months for French might be feasible, but I’d expect six months to be more realistic if you also plan to be able to read and speak.

I feel excited about trying this out. like I said, I will do it for 1 week first to see if I’m capable of doing it and to get an understanding of the task at hand.

IF and that’s a big if, I go through with it I may document it here as I think it could help other people.

I start my degree in Oct 6th so it would have to be September that i do this. Hmmm.

Bear in mind that a lot of your study activity will just build up your language potential, and your ability to understand, and to some extent your ability to speak. To really launch yourself, I believe, the best is to spend some time in the country, once you have the ability to understand well.

That is what I am going to do with my 5 days in Prague.

You think 5 days in Prague is enough to catapult your speaking skills sufficiently?

At the moment, I am looking for a job and I am, basically, learning Spanish full-time. For my experience, after less than a month I was able to read without too much difficulties Steve’s book and I follow some Czech news in Spanish (weird, I know) even if in my first week I studied less than an hour per day. I really step-up my game in the last two week, I study for 3-4 hours a day in small doses (a little less than 5 weeks since I started Spanish by the way). My listening skill is sub-par my reading for sure but sometime I stop reading and just listen and I still understand 30% of the text. I can’t say anything about writing and speaking as I didn’t so any of those activities yet.

From my point of view, the transparency Between French and Spanish is the most important factor of my success so far. For me, it will be difficult to learn a language for 8 hours a day and not being able to read new stuff on a regular basic.

Last thing, once my German teacher told me that the student who study intensively have better marks but they forget what they learn very fast (less than a month) if they don’t maintain their language. And this, is the only thing I remember from my German university class…

I’m sure that if you spend time to learn any language you will learn, but we can’t say " if you study during 3 months you’ll understand the basic things about the language, or if you study hard during a year, you’ll become fluent.

Every day is a adventure, every day you’ll learn new words, every day you’ll forget the words… Don’t think about time and just relax.


Five days is not enough but it is all I have. On the other hand it is a great motivator as I am preparing for the visit so that I will hit the ground running. I expect that living in an environment where the language is real, and all around me, will propel me forward significantly. We will see.

Contrary to the views of that German teacher, I have found that intensive study actually accelerates our learning by a larger factor than just the increased time expended. We create more heat in the brain. The effect continues for a long time after we stop. Intensive study is best, if we have the time to do it, in my experience.

Okay cool.

In your opinion Steve, do I need to do any grammar work for syntax? Or will intensive study sort it out in my head by itself? one of the main issues with my German comprehension is the fact the words come at me in a different order to what I am used to. My brain can’t ‘re arrange’ or work out the sentence quick enough, and the words have come and gone in a flash.

Will this kind of intensive study do it for me or do I still need to do a bit of grammar to grasp it?

You simply have to listen and read a lot. For example, in Czech I have read and listened to 260,000 words in the last 3 months ( in fact more) according to our LingQ stats.

I also regularly consult grammar sources just to remind me of things that I am experiencing in the language but which have not yet clicked in. But this is a small part of the time I spend.

You need to combine both but it is mostly the massive input, and eventually output, that will help you get used to the way German works.

I’ve been studying Russian for about five years (on and off) and spent four months last year learning intensively in a Russian-speaking country (probably about 30 hours actual study a week plus conversations in restaurants; shops etc). My improvement over that four-month period was astonishing. It’s not just about learning a lot but about the fact that you don’t have the chance to forget it. The language kind of ‘gels’ in your head in a completely different way to doing an hour or two a day. I’d say its essentially a completely different learning process.

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