How long to learn German

I need to learn german in 3 years. I already know around 400 words by heart (i rarely use Lingq so its not accurate, i keep a list of every word i know) and am pretty good with my grammar. The reason why I need to learn is in 3 years my dad is taking me to Stuttgart, München, Köln, Berlin, and then to Poland to see Auschwitz, for my senior trip. I also need to know what are the most important things to learn for this. Is there a way to learn german in this time with low intensity? If so how long? Along with this, I should state I have been learning for around 6-9 months already.

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I’ve been learning German with very low intensity for 40 years, and I am just approaching B2 on the CEFR scale.

Language-learning is, for many of us, a life-long process, although there are some folks who are able to learn more quickly.

Also, it depends what your definition of “low intensity” is. However, I would say that, at the rate you are going, with 400 words known in six to nine months, you will know about 2000 words in three more years time, and that is almost certainly not enough to be able to converse on anything but the most basic level. So if you want to learn German in three years, you’re probably going to need to put in some higher intensity effort, such as a full immersion class, or intensive reading on LingQ.


You will manage your trip with English, for example at the train station or in the restaurant. On the other hand, my experience is that you take away more from the country if you know the language. Try to aquire a good listening comprehention.

In regards to Auschwitz, the Marshall plan and the “Deutsch-Französische Freundschaft” brought us back to the free world. Germany is a powerful nation with a traumatic experience.

Maybe you want to read this speech of the former German president Richard von Weizsäcker:

You will find the speech in English at


I agree with the others. Learning German with low intensity in 3 years is likely not to happen (depending on your definition).

First of all, in those major cities most of the people that you will need to deal with on a day to day basis will know English. Especially if you stick to the city or main tourist areas. Knowing a lot of the important phrases or words can be useful. Paying for public transportation you can take care of beforehand so you’re not needing to deal with any of that when you need to be in a rush somewhere.

All that out of the way…What would be your goal when you say you want to learn German in 3 years? Are you wanting to be “fluent”? Essentially be able to talk to any random person you meet about a variety of subjects? Then 3 years casually is probably not enough as Pr0metheus points out. I’m probably about as casual a user at LingQ as there is in terms of time spent a day and I’m clocking in at about 7 years now and I’m still not what I would deem as fluent.

If you want to just learn the basics…be able to handle the typical situations a tourist might encounter, but be able to do it in German…I think 3 years casually could work. You will still have trouble understanding Germans speaking at normal speed without LOTS of listening practice (not casual), but you could always ask them to speak slowly and simply which will help.

I think you could help speed some things up. Probably start with something like “Language Transfer” app. Then I’d focus on important phrases (phrasebook is helpful here or DeepL/Chat GPT). Focus on the words and phrases that you are likely to need or hear in the situations you’ll be in. And really focus on these and listening to authentic German dialogue. Easy German youtube series will be great for this. You can import these into LingQ. Focus first on the Super Beginner playlist and slow speech ones. Then move on to the normal street interviews. Again, these can be imported into Lingq and work through it there…or you can just watch the videos. They have both English and German subtitles burned in. I’d focus on anything that is dialogue heavy like this.

Then you’ll also need a lot of work on speaking. Speaking to yourself. To a tutor. Again, try to think of things you say everyday (or would say in Germany) and practice that.

Focusing on these things I think will get you to a spot you would like quicker. Not sure if it will in a “casual” 3 years.

I think whatever you do…try to just enjoy the process of learning. You’ll learn what you can, in the time you are able to allocate. It will make your trip to Germany more enjoyable, even if you can’t converse fluently. You will recognize words that you see in menus, signs, etc. Be able to speak at least a little bit with people.

Hopefully some who have learned German in 3 years can give you an idea of the amount of time you really need per day to accomplish that, but please let us know what you hope to be able to do and we can probably give a better assessment of what is necessary.


Since you’re a younger person, you would do pretty well by starting out focusing on the Lingq Mini Stories.
Use the flashcards and learn the Mini Stories phrases and vocabulary, and you’ll be able to say quite a few things in everyday situations.
Also try the Lingq courses about ordering in a restaurant, asking directions, etc.

To keep things interesting, watch some German language YouTubes about German cities, culture, and history with subtitles. Try some of the shorter videos first with English subtitles, then with German subtitles. Then you’ll know more about Germany, and pick up some German words.

Watch a German movie like “Run, Lola, run” with English subtitles. This can give you something to talk about with people. Even if you only pick out a German word here and there, your brain is still getting better at processing German sounds. Then watch the movie again in a year, and see how you pick out more words.

If there is a video game that you like which is available in German, start playing the game in German. I’ve met people who studied a language in high school, and then started playing video games and watching movies in the language after they graduated. They got great results.

Here is what I did to prepare for a trip before the Internet was available.

– Basic words and vocabulary using Language 40.
– A tourist phrasebook, like Berlitz, with audio.
(You go to the bookstore, and pick out the phrasebook that’s the most fun.)
–Watch or listen to a short news program every day, first in your language, then in the language you are learning.

Good luck! And let us know about your trip.


I learned German in three years by taking first and second year college German, a two month immersion course at a Goethe Institute, and then taking a conversation and literature course, while working as a nanny in a German speaking country.

After that, I read German literature about 4 hours a day for a year and a half. I was pretty close to bilingual for a while. However, people would tell me that I talked like someone who was born before 1900, and I really needed to speak to some young people.