Learning a language (how long does it take to learn it?)


I just want to share with you some important facts about learning another language no matter if it is as a Second or a foreign language. It is important to mention that this has been my experience.


There is no magic when learning or even teaching English Language. Thus, there is no course that will teach you a language within 8 days; moreover, it is impossible to learn a language in the same period of time. Just check the spam attention average for an adult and a kid.


If you consider that 4 to 8 months are enough to speak a new language I cannot prove you that it is not true due to different aspects such as the ability of the person to learn from oral interaction or the context in which the individual lives the process. What I can say is that speaking a Language is not the same as learning it. Learning and specially teaching a language have to go through different stages. It is very important to know not only the oral utterances but also the other aspects of the language, which include the semantics and morphology as well as the pragmatics of the language.


Coming back to the period of time spent learning a language,  you might know that it is very big. Let’s analyse the phenomenon in the mother tongue -the language that people first learned and use because of their context.

It takes children about 12 years to learn properly their first language. Even though they have spent 12 years learning their mother tongue, it is impossible to say that they have learnt it all. If it were true, specialised courses on the topic wouldn’t exist and everyone would be expert and would have the possibility to teach it.


The time used in learning a second language  is not that much as in the mother tongue. Thanks to our developed consciousness we can learn a language in a shorter period of time. Let’s say that we spent 6 months learning how to speak a language, this gives us a great advantage when we try to learn the other components of the language. It would take us at least one more year to understand the basics of the morphological and semantical aspects of the language. Remember, it isn’t just the grammar or lexicon. This gives us a year and a half in the best cases to understand a little better the target language.


I would like to add some information about the way the CEFR evaluates language proficiency. The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference of languages: Learning, teaching, assessment has a 6-level proficiency scale. The CEFR includes different areas including competences and skills.


These are just some facts about learning a language, imagine know all the pedagogical and technical aspects regarding to language Teaching! This is considerably more worrying. Fortunately I don’t want to talk about it here.

I would like to ask you as a future teacher of languages. Is it possible to learn a language in four-month courses? Moreover, is it possible to dominate it?  Would you feel confident to teach it?




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