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Published on October 23, 2019

How Long Does It Take To Learn A Language? Science Will Tell You

How Long Does It Take To Learn A Language? Science Will Tell You

Learning a language is not as easy as it seems. You might have spent years learning it whole-heartedly, but still, aren’t even close to mastering it. This is because learning a new language could take months and even years of dedicated study. Not to forget, this will only help you become conversational. In case you want to be fluent, then complete immersion in the native country is what you will need!

So how long does it take to learn a new language? Let’s find out.

What Happens to Your Brain When You Learn a New Language

In a recent study conducted by Swedish scientists, it was found that learning a foreign language could increase the size of your brain.[1] They reached this conclusion after scanning the brains of people who learned a second language.

The participants were classified into two categories: young military recruits with a flair for varied languages and a control group of medical science students who although studied hard, but not languages.

It was found that brain structures of the control group remained unchanged while the brains of the language students showed significant signs of development in terms of size.

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Who Tend to Be Fast Language Learners?

A new paper published in the journal Cognition used a Facebook-quiz-powered method to understand how human being learns a language, and what impact age has on this process.[2]

The study found that you are more likely to obtain a native-like fluency in the language if you start learning it before the age of 18 than if you start leaning later. However, this doesn’t mean that adults can’t attain fluency just because they started late.

The study found that thousands of adults who started learning after they were at least 20 years old were able to attain a native-level fluency.

Another recent study studied the correlation between bilingualism and learning a third language.[3] It was found that students who already knew two languages were easily able to gain command over the third language when compared to people who are fluent in only one language

According to Prof. Abu-Rabia,

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“Gaining command of a number of languages improves proficiency in native languages. This is because languages reinforce one another, and provide tools to strengthen phonologic, morphologic and syntactic skills. These skills provide the necessary basis for learning to read. Our study has also shown that applying language skills from one language to another is a critical cognitive function that makes it easier for an individual to go through the learning process successfully. Hence, it is clear that tri-lingual education would be most successful when started at a young age and when it is provided with highly structured and substantive practice.”

How Long Does It Take to Become Fluent in a Language?

Undoubtedly, there are various factors that impact how long it will take you to learn a new language.

There are more than 6,000 languages, and they all range from easy to difficult. Spanish, for example, is easy to pick up for English speakers. While others like Arabic and Mandarin which make use of different alphabets and symbols could be really tough to master. Learn more about the difficulty of learning different languages here: 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers

Another important factor that impacts the time it will take you to learn a language is how you choose to learn it. Are you going to join language classes? Or do you intend to use an app or an online program? Or do you plan to travel to the concerned country for a more immersive experience? Answers to all these questions will help you in gauging as to how much it will take you to master the language.

According to the American Council of Teaching Foreign Language Guidelines measures the time, it will take by breaking down the different levels of language learning into varied steps.[4] Foreign Service Institute (FSI) believes that determining the difficulty of a language to calculate the timings are essential:

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Category I includes languages closely related to English like Swedish, Afrikaans, Dutch, French, Norwegian, Romanian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and the likes. Mastering these languages will take around 575 to 600 hours or 23 to 24 weeks.

Category II includes the languages which are similar to English like German and estimated that it will take 30 weeks or 750 hours to attain the desired fluency.

Category III talks about languages which are different linguistically when compared to English. Such languages include Swahili, Indonesian, and Malaysian. They will take you 36 weeks or 900 hours to master.

Category IV includes languages like Hindi, Thai, Hungarian, Latvian, Bulgarian, Bengali, Nepali, and others. Essentially, these languages have significant linguistic differences and take around 44 weeks or 1100 hours to attain mastery.

Category V includes languages that are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers. These include Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin, and Chinese. They take around 88 weeks or 2,200 hours.

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What’s Next?

If you are planning to learn a new language, now is the right time to get started. Learning a new language not only eliminates language barriers, but it is also found to be associated with various other benefits – it can improve memory and perception and lower your chances of suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. You can find more benefits of learning a new language in this article: 12 Surprising Benefits of Learning a New Language

If you’re ready to take up a new language, here’s what to do: How to Learn a New Language Fast (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Featured photo credit: David Iskander via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 14, 2019

10 Websites to Learn Something New in 30 Minutes a Day

10 Websites to Learn Something New in 30 Minutes a Day

Learning something new is always an exciting endeavour to commence. The problem is that most of us get wrapped up in busy distractions throughout the day that we can never find the time to learn the new skill we want.

What’s worse is that some of us spend hours learning this new skill only to give up after a few months, which is precious time that goes down the toilet.

Luckily, there’s a better solution.

Instead of using our time to sit through long lectures and lengthy video courses, we can take advantage of all the amazing websites that can help us learn something new in 30 minutes or less.

I’ve collected the best sites that teach a diversified list of topics and have decided to share them with you here today.

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1. Lynda

Estimated time: 20-30 mins
Topics: Business, marketing, design, software tools

Get access to 1,000s of courses with a 10-day free trial to develop your skills in business, photoshop, software, and much more.

2. Skillshare

Estimated time: 20-30 mins
Topics: Cooking, design, software tools, marketing, photography

Ten dollars per month gets you access to bite-sized, on-demand courses taught by leading experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

3. Hackaday

Estimated time: 5 mins
Topics: Life hacks, productivity

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This website delivers tips to make your life better and more productive. Just 5 minutes a day is all you need to learn new life hacks to improve your lifestyle.

4. Codeacademy

Estimated time: 15-30 mins
Topics: Software development

A gamified approach to coding, Codeacademy helps anyone build a website through an interactive learning method. Learn any programming language from HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and more by actually building instead of spending your time on theory.

5. 7-min

Estimated time: 7 mins
Topics: Health & Fitness

Do you have just 7 minutes to get in shape? Most of us aren’t in the shape that we want to be because of the lack of time we have. Putting our workout apparel on, driving to the gym, and driving back can take up a lot of our time in themselves.

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In just 7 minutes, this website will go through dozens of routines to get you in shape and ready for the day ahead. Time is no longer an excuse!

6. Calm

Estimated time: 10 mins
Topics: Meditation

Get guided meditations right to your screen. With Calm, you can learn different types of meditation where a teacher can guide you step-by-step through the process, even if it’s your first time trying meditation.

7. Highbrow

Estimated time: 5 mins
Topics: Business, creative skills, design, history

Bite-sized email courses delivered to your inbox every morning to learn everything from film history, marketing, business, and more.

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8. Big Think

Estimated time: 10 mins
Topics: Technology, science, life

Learn from the world’s experts about scientific breakthroughs, revolutionary business concepts, and more in short, chunk-sized videos.

9. Khan Academy

Estimated time: 30 mins
Topics: Academics

Recognized by Bill Gates as one of the best teachers online, Salman Khan breaks down complicated subjects into simplified concepts to help you understand them in minutes, not weeks.

10. Rype

Estimated time: 15-30 mins
Topics: Foreign languages

Are you “too busy” to learn a language? Meet Rype, your personal trainer for languages. Get unlimited 1-on-1 private language lessons with professional teachers around the world. Each lesson is just 30 minutes, allowing you to fit learning a language into your busy lifestyle. You can try it free for 14-days and see for yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Alex Samuels via unsplash.com

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