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How long does it take?


RhodaDEttore
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How long does it take to actually learn a language?

I know that sounds impossible to answer, but I once bought a cassette pack which was supposed to teach you in 8 weeks, the "same way the diplomats learn". It was difficult and I gave up. I am wondering how long it takes to feel quite comfortable in hearing/speaking it, without constantly trying to rewind and rewind.

Also, it seems to me that the beginner tapes/books start off teaching things that don't matter. The only thing I can speak in German is "Where is the railroad?" and "The airport is over there". I am told that I do say those two phrases very well though!

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I think it depends on how serious a person is in learning a language. There are those who do it for travel purposes or for business-related reasons and those people will surely take it seriously. Some will study language just as a hobby and because they are interested with it and they might do it on their spare time.

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Part of it for me is trying to differentiate the sounds. If I read it, I know what it means, but when I hear it, it all seems to run together so quickly. I also think I try to hear every word, but I read here that someone just listens for certain words, and then it processes in the head.

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I think it all comes down on how motivated you really are to learn. But even so, to become confident speaking a language, which would mean some degree of fluency in my opinion, it takes years to develop without question, especially in case of German, which is a tough language to learn. But I'm talking about someone normal, with no extraordinary talent or capacity to learn languages.

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Wow.. I think that was the first time anyone ever implied I am normal!  :laugh: Thanks.

I do appreciate your feedback. You are correct, it is probably a matter of gaining confidence. I also probably need to schedule a set time everyday where I sit and learn it.

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It takes from a few months to many years. It really depends on a lot of variables like if you have a gift for it, where you are living, how much do you study it, how often you watch movies and listen to music in that language, if you are dating someone who speaks the language fluently and who speaks it often to you...

It also depends on what level you are referring to. Being fully fluent in a language is what takes the longest, obviously. While being able to order food and communicate in simple sentences can be learned in a month or two when participating in a full immersion program.

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Eh, that's a tricky question, I really think it depends what you consider learning a language, I mean... what level?  I have managed to learn some dutch in a matter of few days, I still have a lot to learn tho, but I'm doing very well.  I'm guessing it will take me a few months to get to a conversational level and hopefully master most aspects of it.

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I think if you do it consistently each day for an hour, it will take 3 months to learn the basics and a year to be fluent. It depends on the methods of learning the language becaus if you were to go to the country to learn it, you would be fluent in 6 months. If you could speak, listen and do everything using the language that you want to learn you would learn it in 6 months.

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Guest wellpostlooper

I heard a language teacher say that it takes 6 months to learn a language to fluency if you incorporate some of the things he was saying. It was a piece on TED talks and he is called Chris Lonsdale. If that works then you could have about 10 languages in your repertoire in just a few years. Perhaps you can consider taking a language that you really really really love. That usually makes it easier to learn because you want to know everything.

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Part of it for me is trying to differentiate the sounds. If I read it, I know what it means, but when I hear it, it all seems to run together so quickly. I also think I try to hear every word, but I read here that someone just listens for certain words, and then it processes in the head.

I agree. Sometimes it also depends on how words are pronounced. I often get confused with intonations and the pace of how the words, phrases are being said. I guess that's the reason why it's also important not just to learn the language but also how to listen to it.

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Sorry , but I don't think anyone can safely learn a language in 8 weeks, maybe brush up on what they already knew but not for first time learners. I believe that the more eager you are to learn is the quicker you'll learn and even after you become a fluent speaker there will still be new things to learn everyday.

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I think it obviously takes a long time to pick up a language entirely. I would have to say around five years. Obviously you can learn the basics of a language in a much shorter length of time. But to really understand a language and to pick up all the nuisances can really take a lot of practice and a lot of time. I'm not sure you can put an exact time table on it .

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I think 6 months to a year would be a good general time estimate for learning the basics. It takes way longer for the average human to master a language though in my opinion, unless there is some extraordinary tactic that the person is able to use or if he or she is just that much more dedicated than the rest of us. For others that treat it more like an extra curricular activity though, studying for just about an hour or two a day, it might take months or years, I think.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, it does depend on devotion. Most people who say it took 3-5 years mean about 2-3 times a week. If you want real progress FAST, work everyday. One tip suggested online is get labels and a dictionary. Label certain things in the language you want them in, and whenever you interact with one of them, say its name.

Did you know? If you know the 1000 most common words in any language, you will be able to read 70% of texts in that language!

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Learning a language thoroughly depends on many factors, like your commitment to learning it, time you're willing to invest, whether you're a fast or slow learner, and the method that you chose how to learn, whether thru a professional teacher or thru self-study. I think it may take around 2 years minimum and more to learn a new language.

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Learning a language will take some time, and it also depends on the classes as well as your desire to learn.  Much like practicing sports, you will mentally exercise your brain into understanding and memorizing basic concepts and terminologies.  Once you already know the language basics, you can then move on to intermediate, and later advanced concepts.

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Yes, I'm afraid I think it's impossible to answer as well...there are just too many factors. How serious is the person about learning a language? How much time/energy will they devote to it? How fast do they learn and what resources are they utilizing? A lot of things interact together to affect that answer. I think if a person is good with languages, dedicated to it and has the time to learn immersively, they could learn in a range of 6 months-a year.

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During high school, I had Latin class every day. It took all four years of high school to be able to accurately translate and interpret complex Latin passages and pass the IB exam with acceptable scores. It all depends on the complexity of the language and how much it is practiced.

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It depends. I've been studying Spanish for five years, and I'm still not fluent. However, for the first three years, I wasn't too serious about learning the language. During the past two years, I've learned more Spanish than I have during those first three years because I began to take more time to study. How long it takes you to learn a language depends on how quickly you can learn, how determined you are, the complexity of the language, and several more factors. Age is even a factor- the older you get, the longer is takes to learn a new language. Just take your time, and don't frustrate yourself. Learning a language takes a lot of patience.

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In one of my classes in college, we were told that language acquisition is only easier for people below the age of 7. Studying a new language after that age becomes more difficult and as most of the members have pointed out, there are a lot of factors contributing to a successful language acquisition. To my mind, exposure is the key element in attaining fluency. Compare for example a Korean-speaking student studying in an American University, where he's the only Korean there vs. a Korean-speaking student in an American University, but surrounded with fellow Korean-speaking students. In the first case, because of constant exposure to the English language, there is high chance that said student acquires English fluency faster than the other Korean student.  Being exposed to fellow Koreans, there is the tendency to continue speaking in their native language.

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You are absolutely right -- how long it takes to learn a language is actually a varied answer. It really depends on how much time you have, how much effort you put into studying and your dedication to learning. Some people can learn the basics in a few months what some would need a few years to be able to learn.

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Yes, it does depend on devotion. Most people who say it took 3-5 years mean about 2-3 times a week. If you want real progress FAST, work everyday. One tip suggested online is get labels and a dictionary. Label certain things in the language you want them in, and whenever you interact with one of them, say its name.

Did you know? If you know the 1000 most common words in any language, you will be able to read 70% of texts in that language!

I agree. Someone devoted would probably take more time out of each day to learn and they would also probably make much more of an effort to find tips and tricks like the one you've shared so the estimated time for learning would most likely get cut down to a lower timespan. If one is devoted then that person will find out more efficient ways to learn.

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There is no real set date for how long it actually takes to learn a language. Some languages will take less time than others while some languages will be learned quicker depending on the student learning it. To fluently speak a language takes dedication. To be fair, nobody ever stops learning a language. Our languages evolve and am mend as we do.

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