How long does it take to master a language?



June 27, 2022

Today, there are 7,100 languages around the globe, and 40 percent of the world’s population is monolingual, meaning they only speak one language.

Knowing a second language brings you a world of opportunity in work, education, and travel. But how long does it actually take to learn a language?

Before we answer that question, we must first recognize that various languages have varying degrees of difficulty. Mandarin, for example, is regarded as the most difficult language to learn since it is a tonal language with over 1000 characters. French, on the other hand, is regarded as the simplest language to learn since the bulk of the vocabulary used in English today is of French origin.

In 1973, the FSI (Foreign Service Institute, United States) released an article on a similar issue, which I read so you don’t have to. They classified languages into four groups depending on their complexity and the number of hours required to study them.

Category I: Easy Languages such as French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and more. These languages take around 6-7 months to learn or 600 – 750 class hours.

Category II: Moderate languages such as German, Malay, Swahili, and more. These take around 8 months or 240 class hours to learn.

Category III: Hard Languages, which have significant differences from English. These are languages such as Russian, Turkish, Tamil, Vietnamese, and more. They take about 10 months or 1100 class hours to learn.


Category IV: Very hard languages!!! Such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic. These take about 20 months or 2200 class hours to learn.

The time it takes to learn a language also depends on various factors, such as your desired level of skill. Do you want to be able to live in the country by framing basic words to make your life easier, or do you want to be fluent as a native speaker?

It also depends on the time that you can dedicate to learning this language every day or every week. The more time you have the faster it will be and vice versa.



Some theories also state that growing up as a bilingual also acts as an advantage when learning a third Language compared to those who grew up as monolinguals.

We may not be able to tell you a specific time frame for learning a language, but the FSI provided us with certain factors to help you learn more effectively.


  • Intensive and regular practicing. Using the language not just mindlessly but by understanding its meaning while using it in context with the right form.
  • Hearing the language and being able to understand at least the gist of it, is the start.
  • Make the learning content more interesting. Add facts, history, theories, and stories to make you remember the words and rules more easily.
  • Finally, plenty of revision!

The FSI also lectured us on “what not to do” when learning a language, as they are factors that might hamper your progress.


  • Boring class content. Do not make it another Math or Physics class, and bore yourself by memorizing vocabulary and rules.
  • Working on exercises that do not interest you. If you do not enjoy watching movies but force yourself to watch them for learning a language, you will never have fun and might not make progress. Design your exercises in a way that will capture your interest.
  • Framing sentences without knowing the meaning. Don’t just put words together, the grammar and conjugations are as important too.
  • When you hear the language and cannot comprehend the gist of it. Red Flag Alert!!!!
  • Lastly, continuing to speak your first language in class or during practice. Force yourself to communicate in the language you are learning as much as you can.


With the sources available on the internet today, language learning is within easy reach for everyone. 


Now all you need is a little bit of determination and Langoo!



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