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How long would it take to be fluent in the following languages if you spend 1 hour a day studying

So let's say I spent 1 hour effectively studying each language every day for the following languages, how long would it take to become fluent? (In groups based on similarities that I guessed)

French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and German

Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, Esperanto, Czech, and Romanian

Thanks in advance!!

January 14, 2018



For a very rough guesstimate, I looked at the FSI language categories.

Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish - around 1 and a half years
German - around 2 years
Czech - around 3 years

Although in reality there are a huge number of variables, such as your learning methods, your contact with each language outside of your studying sessions, your natural knack for languages, how you manage memory degradation, how many languages you're tackling at once, which language(s) you already know, and - most importantly IMO - what you define as "fluency". I'd take those numbers with a very large grain of salt... maybe a rock would be more fitting.


U.S gov has Spanish at 500-600 hours to reach B1-B2

Fluency is another monster altogether.

CIA has conversational fluency listed at 4000+ hours, specific languages the hours change. English to Spanish, French, Italian is considered level 1 3500+ hours German is level 2 4000+ Japanese is level 4 (hardest) nearly 5000 hours.

Cutting the CIA listed to 1/4th time is probably fine for most of us. I dont really see the point of tracking hours when you reach B2, because by then getting to C1 and C2 the non-spys will be totally immersed. We can stumble along improving, while living a normal life in target country.

The hurdle is getting to B2, from there continuing on is a matter of immersion and really has little to do with study. Think an average of 1000 hours will get you to B2, easier languages like spanish a little less then that, Japanese more.

[deactivated user]

    I think Duolingo's playful appearance and easy accessibility might give some the impression that becoming fluent on a language (or several languages) is easy.

    Those estimates really paint a much more correct picture of what it really takes to become fluent in a language.


    Agreed. My friends in the foreign service study 40 hours a week for a year to get basic professional fluency in one language.


    That sounds on target, based on the hours I put in figuring on 3 years to where I want to be.

    I'll have 2-3 months each year of immersion in South America with 20 hour week courses, hoping the immersion helps shore up my more casual learning of 7 hours a week when I'm in the States.


    There's no solid answer to this, as it's impossible to actually calculate the answer to your question.


    I am at about 500 hours in French. I can read pretty well with a dictionary and can read somewhat without one, missing details. I can hear some slow French, but still have 0% comprehension of full speed French. I have not worked on speaking yet.


    No way to know. Depends on your own skills, base knowledge of grammar, and how you study - if you use that hour to talk to natives or read, or do grammar drills, etc. And some people are just better at languages than others.


    If the point is you want to learn all these languages, then it's irrelevant how long it would take to learn each "from scratch" (i.e. as a first foreign language for an English native speaker). Even just learning Esperanto first is thought to dramatically accelerate acquisition of Romance languages, particularly.

    It sounds like you already know a good bit of French. It's hard to overstate how much of a help that will be learning the rest of the Romance languages on your list. I don't have relevant experience with Germanic languages, but I think the situation is similar.

    The only thing that stands out then is Czech. I have no familiarity with Czech, but I am familiar with learning a Slavic language. It's my personal estimate that learning Russian is equivalent in time and difficulty to at least three Romance languages for an English native speaker, and probably more. It's just that much harder to get the vocab to stick. Then again, I don't think I have a natural proclivity for Slavic languages. Maybe you will prove to. I've definitely seen posts from people who've had a much easier time with Russian than me.

    [deactivated user]

      You must swap German with Romanian on that list.

      As for the question... impossible to answer. 11 hours a day spent on all those 11 languages? It would give you a massive headache for sure.


      11 languages at once for 11 hours a day every day? Do you not have to work or eat or sleep? This is not in any way a realistic scheme.


      It was just a scenario and I'm not learning Irish I should probably delete it


      I think it shows though that there are diminishing returns for trying to do too much at once. Maybe start by figuring out how many discretionary hours a day you realistically can devote, and then how many languages that will support.


      The language I want to be fluent in are French, German, Spanish, Czech, and Norwegian. After I can get almost fluent in Spanish and a German I might do a Portuguese and Dutch b/c they are so similar to Spanish and German

      [deactivated user]

        Well ok I guess... who knows? Maybe you're a polyglot in the making. Your enthusiasm is a good starting point. :)

        [deactivated user]

          What is your definition of fluency? Those 5 languages alone will take you ages to become fluent in... nevermind the other 2.

          According to the Oxford dictionary "fluency" means:

          - The ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately.

          - The ability to express oneself easily and articulately.

          That's for instance, what an employer expects of you if replied an ad that asked you for fluency in a given language.


          The definition you gave is pretty much what I consider fluent. I know it will take me years and years. But since I have been learning French since I was 11 and my mother speaks French I was introduced to it at an early age. She would read me books in French and sometimes speak it to me. Also, I am only under 14 years old so I have a long life ahead and SO much free time on my hands

          And the languages: German and Spanish, are so much like French and English. Czech and Norwegian will take much longer, though.


          I can't give you exact numbers but i know that Swedish dutch and Norwegian are easier but czech will take years


          lots of time probably a couple years unless you're a genius who can pick up a language in a week ive been doing Chinese school for 7 years and still not fluent


          No way to know for sure, except experience, so why don't you try it? ;)

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