how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

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jimmy
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how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby jimmy » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:21 pm

before starting,as you can check from my profile I am multilingual. (English is about C1 but as there are some matters in some parts,I do not want to say that it was C1) ....
to me ,I think it might depend on which language you learn and which language(s) you know. because to me again,this might affect your learning ,of course, there are some other things that may affect learning and its speed.
your specific and personal ideas are welcome ,simply express what you think based on the question given in the topic.
I think it might take 5-6 years (to reach to at least B2 level) but as it expressed this might change depending on some things you live.
(there is one specific time parameter,I think that my arabic was about B1 , and it took only 3 months to reach this level. I add,it might take but no more than 1 year to reach to B2 if everything goes like now.)
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby victorhart » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:23 pm

First, it's misleading to try to answer that question in terms of years, since that depends entirely on how many hours you're putting in each day. Thus, I suggest reconceptualizing the question in terms of "how many hours" it takes to learn a language.

Second, it varies tremendously from one language to another, but not because of any inherent difficulty in a particular language. What matters is how closely related or how distant a language is from your mother tongue or other languages in which you are already proficient. Thus, Mandarin or Japanese are among the most difficult languages for an English speaker or the speaker of a romance language (and the inverse is also true). That is because they are not from the same Indo-European family of languages, so your brain has very little to grasp on to. Everything is radically and different and new.

I address the question of how long it takes in this post, using the US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute estimates.

https://mandarinexperiment.org/2014/11/ ... n-week-44/

As you'll note, a third very relevant point to contextualize your question is what you mean by "learning". To me personally, learning a language generally means becoming extremely proficient, even striving for native-level mastery. That takes much, much longer than getting to even C2-level (using the European standard), but for many people's purposes, getting to B1 or B2 is enough. You can do that in a few hundred hours with languages that are relatively close to your own.
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby Kraut » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:05 pm

Lampariello (in his interview with Steve Kaufmann) says the bare minimum time is 3 months under these circumstances: an experienced polyglot like him, living together with his native girl-friend in the country, studying ten hours a day, a language that is so closely related as Italian and Spanish are (he mentions the pronunciation).
All depending on what you understand by "speaking" the new language.
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby jimmy » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:21 pm

I think,to hear "year" or "years" is not expected ,nor is it wanted thing. your analysis seems correct @victorhart.
I only took into account that we are normal people (yes,including us :"multilinguals" ,too) and we also have some things that we are busy with those things in daily routine.

while I can give some very expected or lovely quantities ,we also hear unexpected expressions that includes very unexpected quantities in this regard.

but of course realistic quantities would be better for everyone. sometimes explaining with hours might cause someone to think like "what a narrow time period!" but when we take our responsibilities into account (also including times for meal ,sleep,etc) it might mean a wide time period conversely.

but all relevant ideas welcome under this thread.
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby 白田龍 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:30 pm

After 50 years I'm still not done learning my native language....
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby tarvos » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:44 pm

3 years, 5 months, 24 days, 9 hours, 34 minutes, and 10 seconds.

If you don't believe me, try it, and see if you manage to learn Swahili in that time. ;)
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:51 pm

victorhart wrote:First, it's misleading to try to answer that question in terms of years, since that depends entirely on how many hours you're putting in each day. Thus, I suggest reconceptualizing the question in terms of "how many hours" it takes to learn a language.

(...)

As you'll note, a third very relevant point to contextualize your question is what you mean by "learning". To me personally, learning a language generally means becoming extremely proficient, even striving for native-level mastery. That takes much, much longer than getting to even C2-level (using the European standard), but for many people's purposes, getting to B1 or B2 is enough. You can do that in a few hundred hours with languages that are relatively close to your own.


In other words - hours first, years later.

In my experience, hours are important during the beginning stages. After some time, that investment (kind of) takes care of itself and the years are to your advantage rather than the exact number of hours you spent. This is how I feel about a lot of skills.
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby Adrianslont » Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:21 am

tarvos wrote:3 years, 5 months, 24 days, 9 hours, 34 minutes, and 10 seconds.

If you don't believe me, try it, and see if you manage to learn Swahili in that time. ;)

Hah! The FSI puts Swahili in the same category as Indonesian and everyone knows how easy Indonesian is - it’s all over the Internet!

So that should be two weeks.
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby jimmy » Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:17 am

Adrianslont wrote:
tarvos wrote:3 years, 5 months, 24 days, 9 hours, 34 minutes, and 10 seconds.

If you don't believe me, try it, and see if you manage to learn Swahili in that time. ;)

Hah! The FSI puts Swahili in the same category as Indonesian and everyone knows how easy Indonesian is - it’s all over the Internet!

So that should be two weeks.

oh,I am afraid,while sometimes I easily understand very difficult things,it might be very difficult to understand very easy things.
so,is this really correct??

whereas,I was smiling to @tarvos's that expression, some smiles might be redirected to me because of my some expressions in this post. :)
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Re: how much time does it take to learn just one foreign language?

Postby Adrianslont » Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:49 am

jimmy wrote:
Adrianslont wrote:
tarvos wrote:3 years, 5 months, 24 days, 9 hours, 34 minutes, and 10 seconds.

If you don't believe me, try it, and see if you manage to learn Swahili in that time. ;)

Hah! The FSI puts Swahili in the same category as Indonesian and everyone knows how easy Indonesian is - it’s all over the Internet!

So that should be two weeks.

oh,I am afraid,while sometimes I easily understand very difficult things,it might be very difficult to understand very easy things.
so,is this really correct??

whereas,I was smiling to @tarvos's that expression, some smiles might be redirected to me because of my some expressions in this post. :)

Hi Jimmy. That was my idea of a joke - I will explain and at the same time make a better contribution to the discussion.

I often read on the internet that Indonesian is very easy to learn and I have read people say it takes as little as 3 months to learn. I have also read as little as 1 month. But the most staggering estimate I read was 2 weeks. I have been learning Indonesian for about five years now and would probably be a B1 - so I don’t agree with those estimates!

I do distract myself by studying French at the same time but even if I gave 100% of my time to Indonesian it would still take years to get to say B2.

So I am repeatedly telling people in the internet that Indonesian isn’t as easy as they think.

The FSI is the US Foreign Services Institute and one of the things they do is teach languages to government workers. They divide the languages they teach into 4 categories depending on how difficult the language is to learn.

Category 1 - 600-750 class hours
Category 2 - 900 class hours
Category 3 - 1100 class hours
Category 4 - 2200 class hours

The FSI also gives a similar number of hours homework I believe.

Both Indonesian and Swahili are in category 2 - which is the reason for my “joke”.

Category 1 contains nine European languages.

So, how long does it take to learn a language? The FSI says that depends on which language - and I agree.

Note that most FSI students have previous language learning experience.

And they are a lot younger than me. I don’t like to admit it but I do believe that it also takes longer if you start at an older age. I’m not sure where the cut off is but let’s say roughly from middle age. Most of the discussion about age focuses on the likelihood of achieving perfect pronunciation or native-speaker-like proficiency and mentions ages such as twelve years old. I am talking about something different - I am just saying that a sixty year old will take longer than a twenty five year old - if all other things are equal.

I should add that we have some awesome language learners in this forum who are middle aged or older but they mastered a number of languages at a younger age which I believe changes the game.

https://www.state.gov/foreign-language-training/
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