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How long does it take to learn a language fluently?

Article by GVI


Posted: February 9, 2023

Learning a new language can be a daunting task, especially when you’re trying to figure out just how much time and effort it will take to become fluent. The good news is that with the right approach and dedication, it’s possible to learn a new language in a relatively short amount of time. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the factors that impact language learning and help you determine a realistic timeline for achieving fluency.

Factors that Impact Language Learning

Before we dive into the time frame for learning a language, let’s take a look at some of the factors that impact language learning. These include:

  • Age: Children have a natural advantage when it comes to learning a new language, as their brains are more flexible and absorb information more quickly. However, adults can still learn a language effectively with dedication and effort.
  • Frequency of study: How often you study and practice speaking the language will have a big impact on how quickly you learn. If you study daily, you’re likely to make faster progress than if you only study once a week.
  • Learning method: There are a variety of methods you can use to learn a new language, including taking a course, using language learning apps, and speaking with native speakers. Some methods may be more effective for you than others, so it’s important to find the one that works best for you.
  • Familiarity with the language: If you already have some background knowledge of the language, you’ll be able to pick it up more quickly. For example, if you already speak Spanish and want to learn Portuguese, you’ll likely make faster progress because the two languages are similar.

How Long Does it Take to Become Fluent?

So, how long does it take to become fluent in a language? The answer is, it depends. Some people may be able to achieve fluency in just a few months, while others may take years to reach that level. The amount of time it takes will depend on the factors mentioned above, as well as your own dedication and effort.

A good rule of thumb is that you can expect to be conversational in a language within 6-12 months of dedicated study and practice. This means that you’ll be able to hold basic conversations and understand most of what is being said.

To reach fluency, you’ll likely need to dedicate at least 2-3 years to the language. This may sound like a long time, but the good news is that you’ll likely be able to start speaking the language with confidence much sooner. And, once you reach fluency, you’ll be able to use the language effortlessly in all types of situations.

Benefits of Travel for Language Learning 

Travelling to a new country and immersing yourself in the local culture is a fantastic way to learn a language faster and more authentically. When you’re surrounded by the language, it becomes easier to pick up new words and phrases, and you’ll have more opportunities to practise speaking and listening. This type of immersion experience can be a great way to take your language skills to the next level.

At GVI, we understand the value of learning a local language when volunteering abroad. That’s why we make it a priority to include language learning as part of our programs. Whether you’re working on a sea turtle conservation project in Mexico or teaching English in Cambodia, our team will help you learn some of the local language so you can better connect with the community and fully immerse yourself in the culture.

The Bottom Line

Becoming fluent in a new language takes time and effort, but with the right approach, it’s possible to achieve your goal. Whether you’re learning a language for travel, work, or simply for the challenge, it’s important to set realistic expectations and be patient with yourself. And, if you’re looking for an effective and adventurous way to learn a new language, why not consider volunteering abroad with GVI? Not only will you make a difference in the world, but you’ll also gain invaluable language skills that will enrich your life for years to come.

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