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How long to reach c1 in Germany

I have been doing self study and I know just over 1500 words and I think I am getting to level A2. I plan to enrol in intensive language course for three months and reach B1 towards b2. How long can I learn to c1 with self study? I have only three months for classroom. I need to have C1 by August 2020, 11 months from now. Is this feasible?

September 4, 2019



I find it hard to tell. It really depends on your individual learning abilities. Altough I do think it is quite ambitious to get to C1 in a little less than a year. Are you living in Germany for the intensive program? I personally find it easier to pick up a language when living in the respective country and communicating with natives. I would definitely try to surround myself with as much German as possible (TV shows, books, newspapers, Youtube).

September 4, 2019


Yes, it is feasible, but very hard and it depends on various things:

1.the time you are willing to invest. Classes are not enough on their own even for the lower level, if you want to really get a very good foundation for progress to C1 and not just barely pass. Every day, you'll need a few hours of coursebook (and similar resource) use and a few more hours of appropriate (above all not too easy) media, perhaps with varying ratio of the two parts. It will also depend on your practice opportunities, whether you'll speak to coworkers or friends in German. I recommend getting rid of English as much as possible. Avoid other expats like a plague, and keep English only for calling your family or close friends. This is harder to do than it seems at first. Instead, use a German library, a German streaming site, join Germans for some group activities (a choir, a cooking class, a sports team, anything), and so on.

2.your talent and background. It is not popular to say this. And I agree that your efforts are more important than your talent. But it is simply true, that some people learn faster than others. It is partially given by your background (whether you are a first time learner or have already learnt another language, whether you know a related language etc), but also by your talents, such as IQ, and personality, such as how outgoing or shy you are. I am not saying this to discourage you. Just to point out that not everybody has the same results in the same amount of time. And that it is wise to think a bit about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and choose your study methods accordingly.

You are very brave, I wish you all the best! I hope your experience will be enriching and awesome! And it would be great to hear about your progress, even though the Duo community is not too much about learners like you. But perhaps you might like to join us at forum.language-learners.org.


Thanks for the info and the link


I think you can reach B1 in 3 to 4 months if you study in a productive way with a good system. From B1 to B2 there is a big gap, you have to memorize a lot of words. Then from B2 to C1 there are a lot more words. I think you can do it, but you need a system. Smarter German has good courses than may help you, they are not cheap, but they are using the system they use in their school in Germany. I will recommend to talk to a tutor or a language coach and ask how you can do it. B1 is not that big of a deal with a good system.

With that said, I think there are 2 types of C1. One is the real, the other is the school tests, the tests are easier to past, you have to prepare for the exam not for the real level. Benny Lewis the learn a language in 3 months guy says that he reached C1 in three months in Germany. You are not in Germany, but you have longer than 3 months. Please let us know how it goes. Good luck.


Get a rough assessment of where you really are from a free test at https://learngerman.dw.com/de/placementDashboard. There are a lot of other free tests out there - some will say you are further advanced; this one seems reasonable compared to others. Then decide what more you need to do when you know for certain where you are starting


I just did the A1 test. I got 72% and it says

Very well! Your knowledge of German corresponds to the level A1 of the European Reference Framework. If you would like to further improve your German language skills, we recommend an offer that leads to the A2 level.


That means you are not yet fully secure at level A1, and have a long way to go to get to level A2. You do not have to "take the offer" from DW, but should work on improving your basic skills. Continue with Duolingo, use youtube (I'd recommend German with Anya) for more free lessons from a native german speaker, try watching German films with and then without subtitles, use some other German language youtubes (I followed cookery lessons and other crafts just to get used to hearing more language and instructions).

Realistically, you are still at the start of a long journey, so you should probably increase the intensity of your learning - spend more time on German every day, copy out the vocabulary you are learning from Duolingo and other sources, perhaps buy a grammar book and practice verb cases and declensions.


Thank you. I can read and understand more easily but listening is a very big problem. I hope I will improve when I am exposed to people speaking German in real life. I have never had a real life face to face German conversation....just you tube videos.... Hoping to start at level A2 in the next two months. I am using Begenungen A1 book as well. Its my first week.


I can read and understand more easily but listening is a very big problem.

After 2 years on Duolingo and completion of the Rosetta Stone course, I found I also had much difficultly with listening and speaking skills. Because of this, I started the Pimsleur German courses a few months ago. I can confidently say, it has helped tremendously. For the first time, I am now able to understand a good deal of what a native speaker is saying and I am able to have basic conversations.

My reading and writing skills are probably at an A2/low B1 level, but I'm quickly getting to that level with speaking and listening. Once I finish with Pimsleur, my plan is to find a professional tutor to push me through B1 and hopefully through B2 as well. My ultimate goal is to reach a B2 level. I study about 1 hour each day. At my current rate of learning, I believe I will achieve my goal in about 2 more years.

For me, reaching C1 is a bit of a pipe dream, but I'm sending you my best wishes that you will achieve your goal. I find your post motivating and inspirational. Good luck!


Move to Germany (or another German speaking country) for at least 3 months and take a temporary job there working with German people.


I plan to visit but I can't work unfortunately. I will find ways to mingle a lot tho....


That last link on dictation practice is a gem! Thank you, I'd never seen that website mentioned before!


Just as a frame of reference for you. English speakers use approximately 7,000 to 10,000 words per day in order to communicate at a fluent level. This knowledge should be a good idea on how large your vocabulary must be in order to get to C1.

The good news is, after a while, in every language, you are able to build words and understand what they mean once you have the smaller words that join in the compound. So if you are able to know several verbs, and what the prefixes do to them, you can rapidly expand your vocabulary by being able to build geben, ausgeben, aufgeben....... and vastly build from there. Same with compound nouns, once you get how they impact each other, or how adding -ung -keit -heit to the end of verbs and adjectives change them to nouns, the single words, vastly explode on what you are able to do.

I would guess your timeline will be difficult, but if you take to languages, and really devote yourself to it, it is possible.


You will need a lot of conversation practice. I suggest to go and check out https://www.conversationexchange.com/

I got told to move on with A2 level learning stuff once I passed A1 with a percentage around the mid 70s.

I very much doubt you will have C1 in 11mths and do think that is unrealistic. I'm basing my thought of the expensive ($6000 a level) language schools which I think when I looked at them it was a 12 week period to cover each part of a level. Eg (6weeks for A1), 3mths forA2, 3mths for B1, 3mths for B2 etc. So realistically you are looking at least 12mths with a professional teachers help with about 2hrs study per day.

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