How long does it take to learn a new language?

This is a generic question because different people have different abilities to pick up new things. There are four general categories of people when it comes to learning generally and learning a new language specifically.


We have the slow, average, fast and super-fast learners. Buried in-between these major groups are other hybrid forms of learners. In this article, we will ignore these groups rather, critically consider the threads that cut through them and I would leave you to extrapolate that knowledge and know how long it would take you to learn a new language. The aim is to take you from a beginner to being fluent in both speaking and writing.


The thread that cuts through these groups are

  1. Learner’s attitude
  2. Setting targets (daily/weekly/monthly)
  3. Prevailing circumstances,
  4. The language’s seemingly difficulty level


These are what either shorten or prolong the new language learning duration. The ball is in your court.

Learner’s attitude — Be Disciplined

Attitude determines largely, our altitude in life. Laziness cannot beget success. If there is no passion or dedication to any task, it can never be achieved. Therefore as a new language learner, you must be willing to give it all it takes to acquire the skills you so seek.

Set Specific Targets and Stick to Them

Before you set out on the new language voyage, you have to sit down and ask yourself some specific questions:

  • Why do I want to learn this language? What is in it for me?
    • How many hours in a day can I comfortably learn, in a fun way? This is should be based on your retention/concentration ability.
  • How do I measure my progress?


  • What learning methods are available to me for this language and which one am I deploying?


  • How can I deploy the language as I learn it and make it relevant to my daily life? The sticking power is not just in learning but also in using….


From the answer to number two above, you should be able to know how many hours a week you can afford to spare. Thereafter, go through the language content and divide the contents into weekly tasks.

Focus on One New Language At A Time

Do not be a scattergun for a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. What is the essence of being a jack-of-all-trades, master of none? Focus on one language per time and give it all the dedication it deserves. Unless you know what you are doing, you cannot succeed in learning more than 3 languages at once.

Challenge Yourself by Setting Milestones

Each day, I would add 5 objects of vocabulary to my collection by writing them down and reciting them throughout the day. Then spoil yourself a little with some chocolate or any other snack of your choice when you achieved the result.   

Make it Fun

Learning becomes boring when it is cumbersome. You must not sit at it all day trying to force it all in within a week. This would naturally lead to the law of diminishing returns that will set in, and instead of absorbing new information, you start losing stored ones. Learn a new language like a child. Easy. Fun.

The language’s seemingly difficulty level

Languages across the world have some difficulty classifications according to the United States Foreign Service Institute. They observed that it is easier to learn Spanish, German, Swahili, Italian, French, Romanian, Indonesian and Portuguese than to learn Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Arabic. I advise that, for your first time out, you choose a language from the first group.

Prevailing circumstances

This has to do with whether you are learning the language in the host country where you can easily interact with locals or not. It also takes into cognizance as to whether or not the local strictly speak the language. People who learn a foreign language where the locals strictly speak the language or have friends they can relate their new acquired skills with, learn faster than those who are using apps and learning alone.


From the foregone. It is obvious that the question should not be how long it would take to learn a new language rather, the right ways to learn a new language and avoid wasting unnecessary time, getting frustrated and abandoning it halfway. If you have not started the fun voyage of a new language, the best time is now.

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