How long did it take you to learn a language?

Hello! I’m new :slight_smile:

This is my first time learning a new language. I tried Duolingo but the questions are so repetitive that it got boring. I like how I can read here.

How long / how many hours did it take you to learn a language where you can understand and engage in conversation? Or watch a movie and understand it?
(I’m learning Spanish)

Any tips are welcome ! Cheers !


I’m reading 3000 words of Harry Potter a day in sentence mode with subtitles. Every 100,000 words make a noticeable improvement in my Greek. It’s a long road but I’m happy I see regular progress.


hello, since you picked a language that is closely related to English it won’t take you as long as the other language. According to the FSI (foreign service Institute), if you chose Spanish as a foreign language to learn it will take you up to 600 to 700 hours to achieve basic fluency which is B2 level or upper intermediate, so if you put at least 2 hours studying Spanish everyday you should get there 10-12 months. If you learn languages like Chinese or any other that’s not related to your native language it will take you twice as long or even more. In conclusion, it depends if the language is close relate to your native tongue because it’ll make it easier for you to retain the unknown words in the other language, for example Spanish is closely related to english so it’ll be easier for you to retain the words in Spanish. If you’re learning Mandarin Chinese, then that’s a whole different story.


id say 3 years of like 8ish hours a day for me to become “fluent”


what language?


Hello, welcome!

There are a lot of variables at play here, so it is difficult to give a direct answer but I would also like to avoid giving you an over-nuanced one.

I would say you should be able to understand and engage in meaningful but not necessarily perfectly fluent, subtle or natural conversation after about a year of 2-3 hours a day of learning Spanish.

To understand a native Spanish movie (dubbed is considerably easier) entirely with all of its nuances requires a significantly higher level of competence. The same of course would apply to nuanced and highly fluent communication. I would agree with alex1029 here in that it takes at least a few thousand hours.


If I’m only counting the months that I was learning German, I would say it took me around 3 years to reach a low level of fluency.


Chinese Conversational: 1.5 years, 8 hours/day,
Chinese Full Fluency: N/A


I also think it depends how “hard” the language is. Because even i did everything over and spent the same time with say arabic or japanese i dont think id be fluent by now. I think id need a lot more time.


portuguese. Which now that i know more about languages, isn’t a language to distant from english.

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That is some serious dedication by the way, respect!

May I ask what variation of Portuguese you learned?
How much of that 8hrs was active vs passive?


It depends on how you define ‘learn a language.’

Honestly, I’m not sure we ever reach the level of fluency we’d like to be at, because as we improve, we shift the desired standard to higher and higher levels.

The idea of ‘fluency’ to a beginner is a totally different thing to that of an intermediate/high intermediate learner. I’d imagine that those at C1 are just as keen to improve to higher levels than those at A1.

That’s been my own experience, in no small part to realising just how much there will always still be to learn, no matter what level I’m at. Because we compare ourselves to natives (we shouldn’t but we do), the bar will always be out of reach.


holy shit, that’s almost 4500 hours and you wouldn’t even consider yourself fluent? Of those 8 hours/day, what part was active study and what part was passive/active listening?


Welcome to the language learning world!
You’re gonna get wildly differing answers. For one, no one will be able to agree on what “fluent” means or what “watch a movie and understand it” means. Understand basically everything(~98+%)? Understand “most” of it(~90+%)? Understand enough to generally follow the story(70-80%+). I just kinda picked some numbers, we won’t end up agreeing on these numbers either lol.

If you do things “correctly”, with Spanish, after 2 years of 1 hour per day, you’ll have made major progress and can probably more or less be able to communicate, probably in a kinda rough fashion. Luckily with Spanish, a lot of the vocab is very similar to English so it’ll be easier. You won’t be “fluent” in that time (whatever fluent means, but most people would say not), but you’ll probably be able to “get by” more or less… All this is kinda vague, see what I mean? Languages are massively complex… By “correctly” (I don’t want to open a can of worms here) I just mean do a comprehensible input based approach. Views differ on exact methods and I’m not excluding some grammar study or saying I have the one true method. Just don’t do things like take school classes and spend your time doing worksheets. You can take many years of school classes, waste hundreds of hours, and not even be close to “getting by” in the language.

It’s a long process that for most of us is never ending, we love it. We get a kick out of learning something new in a language, even if we’ve been familiar with the language for many years… You’ll always be learning a new word or phrase here and there for a very long time. You don’t realize how many words there are until you try to learn them all. You have to enjoy the process.

Lastly, content is king. Find content you enjoy and consume a LOT of it. Might I suggest Destinos for a Spanish beginner?


learning Portuguese shouldn’t take you that long to learn lol

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lol exactly

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I’m interested in hearing how those hours are spent, too. I’m studying Japanese, and can really only manage about 4.5 hours a day, and besides work, it’s about all I do anymore. Wishing I could spend more time in the language…

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Probably, unless you’re one of the rare super-learners, it’s going to take you longer than you expect. Give yourself say 2-5 years, and just learn to enjoy the journey.

I’ve been at Japanese for a little over two years now, and I’ve tried various things, some more effective than others. I think I spent too much time using tools that were less effective, and using other tools less than effectively. Don’t be afraid to change things up if you feel it’s not working, or if you think there’s something better you can be doing.

But at the same time, progress is probably going to feel glacial, so be patient with whatever technique you’re using and give it time to see if it’s actually working for you.

And spend as much time as you possibly can in the language. That’s really the bottom line.


So true. I wish I could learn like 4 other languages right now, but I know I’m never going to feel good enough at Japanese to think I’m ready to tackle another one. :frowning:


Hello. i have been using duo lingo on and off for years for spanish. I then switched to german. i did Duo every day for 1 year without missing a lesson. I can have a conversation at a low level with native speakers. technical things are still very hard but restaurants and bars are no problem.

I will tell you that the low level repetitions are good for your brain because it means you are accessing that information without having to think about it or translate it first.

on the other hand this App and software is the best i have used and i have used many over the years. rosetta, babel, furo, duo, lingo deer etc… in the last month this has seriously boosted my comprehension and use of the language… while not perfect i can speak german confidently in most situations after 1.5 years.

also consume as much content as you can at all times. even if you cant understand whats being said your brain will make connections and hearing words you already know will strengthen that bond. also hearing the correct way sentences are constructed helps.

there is nothign that will fast track you. you have to keep at it everyday.

Good luck!