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Fluent speakers- How long did it take?

I have recently started learning German, I would like to hear how long it has taken people to learn German, and many other languages.

April 12, 2017



Learning languages is primarily a matter of ability (memory capacity, hearing quality) and efforts. Becoming fluent is an individual process and its length of time can vary a lot from one person to the other.
Actually, you may have a more precise answer once you have become fluent in German and get ready to learn another language.


20yrs in English, and I'm still not 100%.
The more you know, you know how much still you don't know.


Your comment reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother. She's a fully legally-qualified French/English interpreter; she began to learn English 48 years ago as a high-schooler. Even with that, she was recently surprised and amused to learn that (at least in Canada), "This game is sh-t" means it's a terrible game, but specifying that "This game is THE sh-t" means it's amazing.

(Not sure if expletives violate comment guidelines, played it safe...)


You've gotten good answers from Sitesurf and turkeysock already. I'd like to add that the definition of "fluent" varies from person to person. Some folks say a person is fluent when they can manage to maintain conversations without a dictionary, sometimes having to explain their way around unfamiliar vocabulary. For example, instead of saying "Hand me that shoehorn" they might say "Hand me that piece of thin metal to help me get my shoe on." Others say a person is not fluent until they can speak as easily as a native, although they will retain some accent.

Learning a language is more of a journey than a destination. Unless you live in a country that speaks the language, your journey will be long. Regardless of the length, it will be rich and rewarding if you stop to appreciate the small steps rather than focusing on some evasive destination.


It's not just studying you need to do, you need to become fully immersed in the language. I moved to Germany soon after I started learning it, and living in Germany has helped me become much better at the language - but I am nowhere near fluent. Just keep practicing and using the language!


3 years French and im fluent, it's not my mother tongue.


I want to know why people downvote interesting questions!! Please users, be polite with other users, and let people have their questions! Duolingo forum is now impossible to use. Every questions that are not about childish things are systematically downvoted. Many people will leave Duolingo if we lose our helping community. It's already half the case now.

Upvoted your question to save it from the burial.

To answer your question. It depends what you mean by fluent. I know some people who pretend to be fluent in French, and that are less good at French than some other people who pretend not to be fluent. What are your criteria?

You have to have precise goals. Being able to watch a popular movie without a dictionary? I don't know...


I think they downvote legitimate threads to make room for their threads titled things like "hi."


Don't disrespect "hi." It's one of the most informative posts on the forums. I've asked a mod to sticky it. :P


I became fluent in Portuguese in 4 months! But then, I had tons of ideal conditions in my favor. Now, with German... I'll give myself 2 years top.


What do you call fluent, and what was your ideal conditions? It could help this user maybe.


Fluent as in being able to speak, listen and think in PT at a fast, real life speed, no trouble. Ideal conditions: a lot of time on my hands, lots of previous experience learning languages, dating a Brazilian, native Spanish speaker. Only thing better than that would have been to actually live in Brazil, which would have made it even less time, honestly.

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