HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE?

Your career might depend on it.

A typical reply to this question in English is “How long is a piece of string?” That is, it depends. OK, some people are better than others, but nearly everyone can reach a C1 level. Do you live in the target language country? And if you do, do you speak to any of the locals? Do you immerse yourself in the language at home and use a speaking app?

In the business world, I’ve found cases of managers who needed a foreign language for their new role or because their local company had been taken over by a multinational. The normal reaction is, “Right, I need a high intermediate level… right now….no, tomorrow, no,YESTERDAY!” “Can you do that for me?”

We can’t learn the language for you, and the lesson to learn from this is that preparing for the future is essential. And if you have certain roles in a company, you should think through potential scenarios and the probabilities of needing English, French, etc. If you think you will, the best time to start learning isn’t tomorrow or yesterday, it’s TODAY.

About 5 years ago, I had a student in a class with a low intermediate level who predicted that his future role in the multinational would require him to speak Advanced English. He ended up being my most dedicated student in my 32 year career as a language trainer! He never missed a day, he did extra work outside class, and started speaking more English at work. 5 years later, he’d reached a C1 level.  True story.

According to James Clear of Atomic Habits fame, “Most big, deeply satisfying accomplishments in life take at least five years to achieve” He goes on to mention growing your business, writing a book, getting in great shape and cultivating a loving relationship. He could’ve added playing an instrument or learning a language really well.

In a previous article, I mentioned that many polyglots manage to learn languages to a B2 level in 2 years or less. However, not all of us have the time it takes to do this, although there are ways of organising your time which would make a huge difference.

The important take-away is that you need to accept that it takes time and dedicaton to reach certain large goals. Unrealistic expectations and demands will cause frustration and just distract you from reaching them.

Sadly, there are no shortcuts to learning a language well, despite the spurious claims of online courses. Like most things, you need to find motivation, create habits and add a good dose of will-power and dedication to get there.

Some languages will take you less time to learn than others. In my next article we’ll look at which ones are the easiest.

Meanwhile, if your future is looking international or global and you don’t have a sufficient level, START NOW, not in 5 years’ time!

To find out how to reach your language learning goals, contact us TODAY.

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