It is very important to have the right expectation when you start to learn a language. How long it will take you to become fluent depends on a few factors:
“Fluent” means different things to different people. Do you want to sound indistinguishable from a native speaker? That is a feat that not everyone can achieve, and if you are to achieve it, it probably means you will have to move to the country where the language is spoken and immerse yourself for years.
But if you want to be able to have a well-flowing conversation with a native speaker, that will be possible in a much shorter time. You can learn up to 80% of a language relatively quickly, but the closer to 100% fluency you want to get, the more effort you have to put in.
So how long does it take you to get to 80%? It depends on the other factors below.
If you are Japanese and want to learn Mandarin, you have the advantage that much of the Chinese characters (“Hanzi”) are very similar to the Japanese ones (“Kanji”).
If you already speak French, it is much easier to learn languages related to French, such as Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese. In the Netherlands, there are special Dutch classes and learning methods for people from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. A German friend of mine picked up near-native sounding Dutch while playing with Dutch friends on the street.
Conversely, if you are a Westerner wanting to learn Chinese, it will take you much longer because of the totally different structure of the language and the lack of recognizable words. It is possible to learn the language, but it will take you at least double the time of learning a related language.
Being realistic when you start out learning a language helps to avoid later quitting in disappointment. A major factor in learning languages is how much time you are willing and able to put into it. In mathematics, there may be wonderkids who can simply “get” complex equations almost instantly, but learning a language is hard work, even for the most gifted language learners.
Do not just count how much time you can spend sitting in a classroom, also think about how much time you can spend revising between classes. Are you in an environment where you HAVE TO speak the language? Do you have roommates whom you can only converse within the language you are learning? Do you watch movies or try to read books in the language you are learning? All of these things count towards your time spent learning and really help you to speed up the learning process.
In my life, I have taken classes in English, German, French, Spanish, Ancient Greek, Latin and Mandarin, and in each of these classes, I have seen some fellow learners pick up the language faster than others. It is a matter of how our brain works. Some people are simply better at reproducing sounds and seeing patterns in languages. It also helps if you have learnt other languages before, even if they are not related to the language you are learning. The 3rd language you learn will be easier than your 2nd language.
How fast you will become fluent in a certain language depends on a number of factors, such as:
What you define as being fluent;
How related the language is to your native language;
How much time and effort you can put into learning the language, and
Your passion and aptitude for learning languages.
You might have hoped to get a number from me as an answer to this question. To give a very broad estimate, I would say 80% fluency can be achieved in a matter of months if you dedicate yourself to it full-time (a few hours every day). If you only have a few hours every week, it will take you 1-2 years to hit the 80% mark.
In this article, I will be sharing three of the best and easiest techniques I have to learn languages fast. Learning a new language can be a very exciting and fun journey, I’m sure. Some people, however, want to speed up the process and time it takes to learn languages fast.
Here are some tricks and techniques to help understand how to learn languages fast and easy. But these techniques will still require some time and effort on your part.
The strength of your memory skills is the most important factor when trying to learn languages fast. Most people don’t use their memory skills to their full potential that becomes a big obstacle when trying to learn languages fast.
One of the simplest techniques to increase memory ability is word association. Word association is learning new foreign words with similar words that you may already know. Try to divide the new words into syllables and find words in your vocabulary that that share similar sounds or remind you of every single syllable of the new foreign word you’re trying to learn.
Another easy technique is through repetition. Simply saying and writing a word over and over again. Repeat use of a word helps your memory’s ability to retain and remember that word.
Adults tend to have a short attention span. In fact, studies have shown that a healthy and fit adult would stay interested and attentive to a certain repetitive task for up to a maximum of 20 minutes! Just 20 minutes! And that’s the attention of a healthy adult towards a task he does daily.
A person usually has a maximum of a 20-minute attention span. This means that after 20 minutes, you’ve most likely lost interest in your lesson. When you’re studying a new language, you should keep your learning sessions to about 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Take frequent, short breaks with some snacks. These breaks and short learning sessions will keep you more focused and your brain will be more sharp, relaxed and focused.
Perhaps the easiest of all the techniques to learn a language fast, you need to keep your study period short. Keep your sessions to 15 to 30 minutes and take 5 to 10-minute breaks in between. Also, be sure to munch on some light snacks to keep your energy.
There are many techniques to learn a language fast and it would be a very big help if you study in the same place and at the same time. Creating a familiar setting for your brain will make it easier for you to learn.
This is why it is necessary that you create your own personal space for your speed learning languages lessons. The human brain responds better when used in an area or situation is comfortable with. A simple area that has little to no distractions. Once your brain gets accustomed to the environment around you, it will automatically program and set your mind into “learning mode.”
It is important to note here that your study area does not need to be a whole room or has to be big or something. It could just be a small desk in your room. Just keep it uncluttered and relaxing. The more relaxing or calming a place is, the same will happen to your brain. And a relaxed and calmed brain means that it is most susceptible to learning new things and more importantly retain the information.
That’s it – the three techniques on how to learn languages fast. Don’t forget that it’s all about your approach – if you believe that something is easy, it will be easy. Really, it all depends on you – every language can be easy and you can learn it fast if you are optimistic and persistent.
Live through your new language on a daily basis. Watch movies, listen to music, podcasts, chat with native speakers, exchange e-mails, speaking on Skype, write a journal, play games. Many people don’t use their new language right from the beginning and that’s why they have a hard time learning it. Good luck and have fun while learning!
Many people start with the belief that learning a second language is something that is beyond their reach. This is very untrue, it is quite possible to learn multiple languages easily. Learning multiple languages actually becomes easier the more you learn.
Truth is, the first language people learn in their life will be their hardest to learn. Because your first language is learned out of necessity by trial and error for the several years of your life. To learn multiple languages easily takes mostly motivation to do.
Learning multiple languages easily is not as far-fetched as you might believe. Most people are scared of the amount of time and effort needed in learning a second language. But there are three easy tricks to learn multiple languages easily, whether you’re learning them at the same time or one at a time in succession.
It’s easier to absorb information and knowledge in smaller and more precise lessons. Trying to cram too much information at once, makes it harder to retain it. Breaking down learning sessions of several hours into daily languages lessons of 30 to 60 minutes lessons. Don’t be afraid to spend extra time and attention on things that are giving you trouble.
This can easily be the most useful language learning tool. Because it ties into something you’re already interested in. For example, if you are into Japanese anime, Hindi Bollywood films, or Korean pop music.
You’ll probably experience some grammatical errors at first but merging language learning with something you’re already passionate about is a natural way to develop your language learning skills.
Many linguists suggest that using everyday objects with flashcards or small notes placed on the object itself. That image of the object with the word next to it, helps your mind associate the word with that object. Basics of learning a language on common words that relate to eating & drinking, transportation, and work.
Remember that learning a language is a long-term commitment. Probably spend the rest of your life learning new words and never be done completely learning. If you plan to learn multiple languages, you should think ahead and come up with a list of priorities, set some goals before going for it.