Language Learning – How long will it take to achieve fluency?

I have heard people boast that they can achieve fluency in a language within three months. I am not against the possibility of them reaching it. I have been able to hold basic conversations with native speakers within this time frame, but setting up such goals is like setting yourself up for failure. It is important to have a needful expectation when learning a language. However, the actual duration of time it will take you to be fluent in any language will depend on a number of factors…

Factor One: What do you mean by fluency?

The word “Fluent” means different things to different people. If you want to be as fluent as a native speaker, then, it is not a thing that will happen over night. It may involve you moving to the country where people speak the language and residing there for years.

If you want to have just a flow of conversation with a native speaker with understanding, it is possible within a short period of time.  Yes, you can catch up with 75% of a language comparatively quickly, but if you have to learn more, it means putting in maximum effort. 

Factor Two: The current languages you already speak, and the language you want to learn

It will be easier for a  Japanese person to learn the  Mandarin Language because he or she already has the advantage of being aware of the Chinese characters (“Hanzi”) which are very similar to the Japanese ones (“Kanji”).  Similarly, if you already speak French as a language, it will be much easier for you to learn another romance languages like Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. 

On the other hand, if a Westerner wants to learn Chinese, it might take longer due to the total differences in the structure of the language and of course the completely different, unrecognizable words. 

Factor Three: How much time and effort do you plan to invest?

Realistically speaking, when you are serious about learning a language by putting all your time and effort, it will go a long way helping you to avoid quitting at a later date. One major factor that will help you in learning a new language is the time and effort you are ready to invest in it.

It is not just about the time you spend in sitting in a classroom learning the language, you should think about how time you are ready to spend in revising your work. If you are in the environment where you have to speak the language, do you speak the language during a conversation with your class mates? This is important and will help you in speedily learning the language. 

Factor Four: Do you have the passion for the tongue? Are you a good language learner?

In my life, I have taken classes and tutorials in Spanish, British Sign Language, French, German, Icelandic, and Mandarin and each of these; I have seen some learners pick up the language much faster than others. It all depends on how our brain works and our passion, dedication, and consistency for learning languages.

Learning a new language and need some help with goal planning? Check out my FREE 28DayLanguagePlanner.



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The Mindful Language Learner

Trisha, is the founder of Language Learners An award-winning blog dedicated to empowering and promoting a more mindful approach to independent language learning and teaching across the UK and beyond. Trisha has a professional and academic background in psychology and well-being. She has been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years and has professionally taught CBT-based mindfulness for the past 7 years. You can follow Trisha on her official Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitter accounts to discover how to apply simply mindfulness practices and scientifically proven strategies to your language learning...