How long does it take to learn French? [CALCULATOR]

The words "how long does it take to learn French" written on paper in marker with a calculator

Tons special interest groups or language teachers have tried to answer “how long does it take to learn French”, but their answers are often wildly different:

But besides the fact that everyone has a totally different answer about how long it takes to learn French, they’re missing the biggest piece of the puzzle:

They’re not you.

So let’s calculate how much time it will take you personally to learn French.

This article is part of a larger series called French vs Spanish. Click the title to see the main article, or click here to see all French vs Spanish articles.

1. Set your French level goal

A spongebob language meme that says "when you finally arrive in your immersion country and realize if you don't try talking with native speakers you'll starve but are wondering if living is worth it"

I make language memes on Instagram as @MultilingualMarissa

Here’s a huge secret from the language learning community:

There is no real way to say how long does it take to learn French because what “learn French” even means is up for debate.

So the first thing we’re going to do is define your PERSONAL French learning goal.

We’re going to do that based on the Common European Framework Reference (CEFR) since it’s nice and universal.

First, I’ll describe what each level means for you, the learner.

Then we’ll look at how many hours it takes to reach that level.

And while their definitions of each level can be a bit technical, I’ll give you my own definitions to help you for the purposes of this calculator.

Grab a pen and paper, because we’re going to dive into this together.

If you are relearning French from school or learning it as a heritage language, follow along with the steps as they are given. Your previous experience with French will be accounted for later on, don’t worry.

French A1: Low Beginner

What you’ll learn in A1 French classes can vary a lot and depends if you’re going through a school program or doing something a bit more creative.

Let’s take at what a French A1 class might teach you, depending on the goals of the institution:

(1) Technical learning: Numbers, colors, daily life and routine, days of the week, telling time, present tense, asking questions

(2) Communicative content: Present tense, asking questions, presenting your opinions, maybe a special topic like travel or food

A textbook that says "Catala Basic" and a list of language grammar and vocabulary

A sample of what I learned in A1 and A2 when I was studying the Catalan language. It took me about 20 hours to get through A1 because I already spoke other similar languages (Spanish and French) which is part of the reason this article is so long and this calculation so complex!

Either way, the grammar you’ll be learning is incredibly similar.

If you learn French through an institution like school or immersion program (or something like DuoLingo that tries to imitate an institution) you’ll end up learning the more technical CERF stuff.

If you learn with a private teacher, you may have more room to do communicative learning.

Some examples of phrases you should be able to say in French at this level are:

  • “I have a reservation for today.”
  • “I would like the pasta option, but I’m a vegetarian. No meat please.”
  • “I like your dress. Where did you get it?”
  • “Thank you, have a nice day!”

Setting a goal of A1 French is perfect if:

  • you want to use your French to travel since you’ll need very limited vocabulary involving food, directions, etc.
  • you just want to learn French as a new hobby.
  • you’re just curious about the language.

In my experience, when someone says “I learned French in 2 weeks” this is often the level they’re referring to.

And when I went to a French immersion school, they passed us through all of A1 in 5 weeks: 1 week for A1.0, 2 weeks for A1.1, and 3 weeks for A1.2, which is the highest A level.

Considering that the program was 4-6 hours a day, that would be 100-150 hours.

Now that isn’t just stumbling your way through those topics of conversation.

That’s actually being able to really communicate with a waiter or bus driver, even if it can feel a bit clumsy. Not just being good at some language app, but real French in the real world.

That’s because using French in real life and choosing French words out of a box on an app are very different things.

So if you think A1 is a good goal for you, write down that 100-150 hours but remember that this is the starting point for our calculation and that there are other steps to follow.

If this is all you want, head to step 2.

And if you want to go higher with your French learning, read more.

French A2: High Beginner

Notes about French grammar hand written in a notebook

Some notes from my first month of learning French at the A2 level in Quebec

Learning French up to A2 is an awesome goal.

In my experience, a lot of language students are happy having mastered A2. (And in my own German studies, this is my personal language learning goal.)

In A2 you get to learn some of the fun stuff:

  • Talking about the past and future.
  • Talking about your jobs and hobbies.
  • Basic reading and writing.
  • Communicating needs.
  • Learning phrases and things special to French.

Here are some things you can say once you’ve mastered A2 French:

  • “Did you go to the museum yet? I went yesterday, it was great.”
  • “I’m learning French for fun because I love French food, but I work as a math teacher.”
  • “I’m going to Paris next year for two weeks!”

You can probably see why this is such a popular level goal for so many people, huh?

A2 French is a great goal if:

  • you want to have basic conversations or explain things.
  • there’s someone you want to communicate with occasionally (like a significant other’s family).
  • you need to communicate in a specific work situation with a limited vocabulary.

If you want to ask “how much time does it take to learn french”, and not worry so much about fluent French, this is perfect for you.

This is also the level that a lot of 3-month programs can get you to (if you put in a lot of work), even if you don’t have previous language experience–and about how long it took me to get through A2 in my immersion school in Quebec.

My calculation based on those numbers would be (including what you’ve learned in French A1) is 250-300 hours as a starting number. (Remember there is more to this calculation below.)

Honestly, this is a great goal–especially if you’re learning French as your first “foreign language”. If this is all you want to aim for, head to step 2.

But, of course, there are other higher levels we can keep exploring if you keep reading.

French B1: Low Intermediate

A hand-drawn charte that shows Spanish as more advanced than French

Going into 2019 I had an A2 level French and my goal was B1. Since I was juggling additional languages. It might seem like “only one language level” is a small amount, but it’s hundreds of new words and a lot of new grammar! It took me about 1 year to get from A2 to B1

B1 level French is an awesome goal.

And even though it’s only #3 of 6 levels, for the overwhelming majority of language usage it’s a great level to aim for.

If you can master B1 French you’ll be able to:

  • Feel like you’re fluent when talking about things you know a lot about.
  • Helping clients or coworkers at work.
  • Express yourself more fully about specific points you want to make.
  • Complete complicated tasks like renting an apartment, following a recipe, or telling a story.

That’s so many words! So many types of grammar!

And yes, so rewarding.

But how long will it take you to learn French at this level?

This is where that big government number came from.

According to the Intelligence Language Institute (the CIA office that trains government workers in foreign languages) knocking out B1 French will take you 900-1000 hours as a starting number. (Remember: we’re continuing your personal number with the steps farther down in this post.)

French B1 was my original French goal. If this sounds like a good starting goal for you, head to step 2.

But if you want to go even farther with your language keep reading.

French B2: High Intermediate

The best way I’ve ever heard the B2 language level described is “the college level”.

In B2 you’re learning about specific types of grammar (“I would have gone if I had had the opportunity”) as well as complex, specific French vocabulary.

I’m currently in B2 French (although I’m farther in Spanish). At this level I’m currently learning business-level grammar and vocabulary, explaining complex stories, and reading literature.

Two versions of the Camus book "the stranger", one in English and one in French, against a bookshelf

One of my goals was to read novels in French, and it took me only until French B1 to be able to read The Stranger in its original language

B2 French is no joke, and students who learn it can:

  • Read complex novels or poetry
  • Take college-level courses in their field
  • Understand some jokes and cultural references
  • Use slang and metaphors
  • Explain hypothetical and abstract situations

I haven’t been able to find a good source for how long mastering B2 would take you since most programs aim for B1 (and academic programs for C1, listed below).

For me with Spanish, it took me about 5 months of living in Mexico speaking Spanish nonstop, and French and Spanish are largely similar in their difficulty. So I would think they take about the same time.

So that said, I would personally put B2 mastery at around 1,500 hours, right between B1 and C2.

If you’re happy with B2 as a goal, jot that down as your starting number.

But f you want to know how long it takes to learn French at a higher level, keep reading.

French C1: Advanced

Completing C1 French is extremely extremely ambitious. But French is a beautiful language, and you can access a wealth of cultures through it.

After 2 years of studying French, I’m still somewhere in the B-levels, but finishing C1 is my new personal goal.

But it’s going to take me a while. And that’s because the difference between C1 and B2 French is almost entirely vocabulary.

The estimate is you would need about 3,000 French words in your active vocabulary, meaning you can pull them up and use them when you need them. But your passive vocabulary is normally much larger than that.

This is the level that most universities will try to get you through. In the American credit system, here’s the math for how long it takes to learn French through the C1 level:

  • A minimum of 30 French credits total
  • Normally every 3 credits is 5-6 hours of work per week in a semester
  • There are typically 15 weeks in a school semester
  • So in an American university, you would study French for approximately 2,475 study hours to master the C1 level.
  • But that doesn’t count abroad time. Since most universities require a semester abroad for a Bachelor’s in French, that would put the number at around 3,500 hours. At least.

That is an absolutely massive number.

For an adult, even an hour of language study can be a lot per day (and we’ll talk about that below with budgeting your time and money).

My advice is to aim for a lower level initially.

If you fall in love with the language then you should absolutely continue, but B2 French is more specific than what most casual language speakers will ever need.

For example, my own goal with French was originally B1. But now (again: after 2 years of study) C1 is my goal.

Our goals can remain flexible and change as we do, so don’t pressure yourself for perfection.

But like I said, if this is your goal you can put down 3,500 hours on your piece of paper

And if you really want to see what that big final level of French looks like? Keep reading.

French C2: Language Mastery

Picture it:

You’ve just finished all 1,900 pages of Les Miserables. You’re debating its metaphors with a Parisian architect over dinner but pause to compliment the hostess on the robustness of the wine. You know everyone at this dinner party through work because you hold a high-skill, technical job in a French company.

This is C2 French.

Most natives don’t even have C2 mastery in their own language, and learning through immersion alone isn’t going to get you here.

There are between 60,000 – 100,000 words in a French dictionary and a native speaker understands about 30,000 of them. At C2, so do you.

And how long will it take you to achieve this flawlessly polished, sophisticated French?

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an official number.

A meme of cartoon character Rick Sanchez saying "I'm not good at languages I just work really hard"But what we’re talking here is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree (aka the 3,500 hours of university study to get to C1 French) and then some.

My estimate would be well, well over 4,000 active study hours.

But very few programs get to this level.

So if you’re curious, there you have it!

But, truth be told, if you’re looking to start French from scratch you don’t even know if you’re going to fall in love with it yet.

You might have a romantic idea of its subtle sounds or visiting Paris, but you can access many of the joys of French at a much lower level.

You may want to read Les Mis as your total vision goal, but find that by B1 you’re totally saturated with grammar and need a break.

So again, my suggestion is to only pick B2 as your highest goal for now, although A1-B1 are also amazing goals. It all depends on what you want to get out of the language.

But no matter what your first starting number is, let’s continue below to figure out how long it’ll take you personally to learn French.

2. Take a look at how hard is French to learn

By this point, you’ve set a goal using the above Common European Framework, and we’re going to call that number of hours your “starting number”.

(If you have two different starting numbers like I suggested, your modest goal and your reach goal, we’ll move forward for two calculations with two different starting numbers.)

But now let’s take a look at what makes French a bit tricky, and what you’ll need to overcome its quirks.

French Vocabulary

If you’re a native English speaker, congrats: you already have a slight advantage!

Around 30% of English vocabulary comes from French, so you’ll find “le vocabulaire français” has a lot of “familier” words! It won’t be as “difficil” for you think!

So now we’re going to make the first of several changes to our “starting time.” This way we can personalize it for your situation.

  • If you are a college-educated English native speaker, or if you already have a C2 level of English, subtract 10 hours from your starter hour.
  • If you are not college-educated, not a native speaker, or have less than a C2 level, do not touch your starter hour.

French Grammar

A meme labeled "French grammar pie chart" which is actually a beautiful intricate mandala with a bunch of scribbles on it

I make language memes on Instagram as @MultilingualMarissa so we can cry together over French grammar there

French grammar can take a while to get the hang of.

If you only speak one language you’ll be tempted to directly translate stuff right from English, word-by-word, into French.

You’ll want to say literally “I am 30 years old” when in French what you should say is “I have 30 years”.

Just wrapping your head around the logic of things like that, plus the logic of the fact that there are 4ish words for “the” in French, will take you a second.

Now let’s make another adjustment to that new number.

  • If you only speak 1 language, add +10 hours to your current number.
  • Do you speak a second language? No matter what the language, subtract -10 hours from your current number.
  • If that language is a Romance, Slavic, or Germanic language subtract another -5 hours because you already know what’s good with gender.
  • If you have previous experience with French such as schooling or having speakers in your family, don’t touch your number just yet. We’ll get to your stuff soon!

French Comprehension, Slang, and Culture

A meme labeled "French students when they discover verlan exists" that is Super Mario shouting: "I have a question. For God. WHY?"

I am so, so sorry to be the one to tell you about French verlan.

If you haven’t studied French before, you may think of French as a beautiful, romantic, and flowing language.

You’re correct: its fun pronunciation rules mean that its words flow into each other. Its vowels are also extremely subtle, and in my experience natives speak it rather quietly compared to other languages.

But French is also home to some of the most insane slang ever: verlan, a type of slang where you literally scramble up the order of the word.

To say woman, femme becomes meuf. The word for nasty, méchant, becomes chanmé. 

Can you guess what céfran is? The language you’re interested in learning: français.

Then there’s also normal slang: mes potes for mes amis (my friends) or un boulot for une travaille (a job).

These words are so regularly used, I thought keuf was the original slang word for “police officer” (like “cop” in English) but it turns out keuf is actually the verlan of flic which was the original slang word. (Like someone in English calling a police officer a pock which is a play on cop which isn’t even the formally used word for the job.)

“How long does it take to learn French” and “how long does it take to learn advanced backwards-French” are very different questions.

  • If you only want to learn to A1 or A2, leave your number as it is.
  • If you’re planning on learning French to B1 or above, you’ll have to learn this slang even though it’s not covered in formal courses. Add another +15hrs to your total.

3. Subtract some time for previous French language learning

“How much time does it take to learn french” and “how much time does it take to relearn French” can be very different questions.

If you’ve forgotten all of the French you learned in school (âllo aux lecteurs canadiens!)? Or have family members who spoke French to you when you were younger?

Well I have great news!

First of all, as you may have guessed from the title, this entire blog is dedicated to language learners (like myself) who want to relearn a language from earlier in life.

Maybe French is your heritage language which you forgot, or maybe you just had a rough first go at it during schools.

You’re not stupid, you’re not bad at languages, and you’re not alone.

In fact, if you want a bit more company along your French learning journey, follow my YouTube channel where you can follow me as I relearn Polish, my own native language.

But without getting too far off track, let’s just say that there are a lot of reasons to believe that your ability to speak French isn’t gone, it’s still accessible. Some memory experts believe all of your French knowledge is still there buried somewhere in little treasure chests.

To “relearn” French, you just need to find a map to where those treasure chests of vocabulary and grammar are.

So based on my experience relearning Spanish and my friend Ingrid’s experiences with relearning French herself, here are some estimates of how much time you can take off of your total learning time.

  • If you spoke French fluently as a child until age 7 or so, knock off -40 hours from whatever your total is, you amazing heritage learner you. You’ll have some great instincts and some vocabulary will come flying back, but you’ll find that what you can use is largely A1 or A2 level.
  • If you learned French in Canadian public schools, no matter what grade you got, knock off another -30hrs. Some of A1 will come back to you very quickly.
  • If you learned French in other school systems, including university, knock off -5 hours for every year of classes you learned it in.

The length of time during which you haven’t spoken French, in theory, doesn’t matter.

4. Add some French immersion (at home or abroad)

“But the only real way to learn a language is immersion! And as a child!”

Let’s just tackle this myth now, shall we?

  • Immersion is important…
  • …but immersion-only with no formal instruction only really works for infants.
  • Adults can actually learn faster than children through instruction.
  • There are plenty of Europeans who learned English to a high degree who have never been to an English speaking country
  • And I personally speak Catalan very well but have never been to Catalonia. It’s possible. I can tell you first-hand that it’s possible.

[source]

So in this section, we’re going to show you how you can do immersion on your own at home, and calculate how you can benefit from it.

Here’s how I do my own French language immersion year-round:

  • Podcasts for learners. My friend Ingrid has an amazing list of French podcasts for beginners which I contributed to on her blog, and if you’re not a podcast fan, I wasn’t either until I realized how potent they are. I can learn French while I’m cooking! And, of course, once you get better you can listen to whatever topics you like best! My favorites are wellness, politics, and business since those are the topics I would listen to in English in my free time.
  • French YouTubers. My favorite for beginners is Easy French (another channel recommended to me by Ingrid), but with time I switched over to all native-level French YouTube content (stuff you can understand at B1 and above, which was made for and by native speakers).
  • An photo of a TV show with Italian language subtitles all of itFrench Netflix of course! I still sometimes struggle to understand French Netflix, so this is a goal for farther down the road for sure. (It’s made for natives and not learners, so it’ll take you a while to get used to. But if you love film, of course, it’s a great resource.)
  • French music! French rap is incredible, and resources like WordPie are to die for. If you can remember the lyrics to a song you love, you can remember words in a language.
  • Recipes, short stories, Wikipedia, and everything else. If you do it in your native language, you can do it in French!

Immersion like this is the single fastest way to speed up your learning process.

It doesn’t feel like studying French at all, so it’s something to look forward to.

But, ultimately, you need to combine it with structured learning.

So let’s take away some time from your total number if you can commit to some at-home immersion during your learning process.

  • Make yourself 3+ good playlists in French, and take off -1hr per playlist
  • If you are a YouTube user and you go follow Easy French, take off another -1hr.
  • And if you’re a podcast fan and you go follow some of the podcasts Ingrid recommends above, take off -2hr per podcast.
  • But remember. The trick is that you must actually use all of these regularly!

When you get to higher levels and can start doing things like watching the news and films without subtitles, then it will take off more and more time as you go. But for now, we can’t factor that higher-level listeing in.

5. Add room for flexibility

Part of the reason the answer to how long does it take to learn French is so complicated is because human beings are so wonderfully, perfectly complicated.

But even on top of the individual factors we needed to bring in, we still have to talk about one thing:

All of the things we looked at accounted for averages.

And in humans?

There are no averages.

For me, passed through all of A1 and A2 Spanish in a month which is according to everyone impossible. …and then spent 6 months in A2 French even though the languages are virtually the same.

(And I still don’t know why that happened.)

And who knows what will happen for you!

Maybe French will come effortlessly to you in A1, and then B1 will make you question why you started it in the first place.

Or maybe you’ll hit the jackpot of amazing language tutors and breeze through the whole thing! (Or, have to revisit your plan several times until it finally clicks with you.)

To make your number unique and a bit more realistic, let’s look at the margin of error, shall we?

With your current number, you’re going to take into account a margin of error that is +/- 10%.

So let’s say your current number (to your specific goal with your specific background) is 1,000hrs. Your two new numbers are going to be 900 and 1,100.

Or, if you decided on a more modest beginner goal and have your time to learn French at 250 hours, your new range is 225-275.

I can almost certainly guarantee that if you actually study for this many hours, no matter what your tools or learning style or level, you will learn French to the level you want.

But there’s still one more thing we need to take into account: your money and time.

6. Create a schedule and set your finances

From here on out we’re just going to start referring to your number as “your total”.

Again, you may have several totals or a range of totals, but there’s more math ahead! (And the variables will become much larger than +5 or -10.)

Think about a price tag you can afford

The good news is having a lot of money to spend does not mean you will learn a language faster.

But the bad news is that having a $0 budget to learn a language is extremely difficult.

I’m currently dabbling in German with a $0 budget as an experiment since so many people have claimed it possible or that they never spend a dollar on learning. At best it’s been a challenge, at worst frustrating and discouraging.

On the flip side, I probably spent around $1,000 USD on learning Italian over the course of 6 months last year. I would never do it again. It felt luxurious: any resource I wanted to try or teacher I wanted to study with, I could. But ultimately it had no effect on my ability to learn Italian.

Here is the range of budgets, in US dollars, that I’ve seen language learners spend and what I believe you can afford with that money.

  • $0 – No premium apps, no books, no tutoring, no classes. Honestly, while there are still plenty of amazing free tools online (YouTubers, courses like Language Transfer, tools like Cottage Fables) when you find something that could be really amazing to use but you can’t pay for it can be extremely frustrating and discouraging. My advice is that if you can afford even just $5 / week that you put that you invest it in your language learning life.
    If this is your budget, add +10% time if you’re studying to A1 or A2, and +15% if you’re studying to B1 or B2.“But I live in Europe and classes are free here!” But textbooks are not, and group classes (in the experience of language learners) are slower than private classes.
  • $5 / week – At only $5 a week you can still take advantage of all of the free resources online, but have a little money put aside for the basics: maybe a workbook that takes you a month to get through, or a subscription an app you love. You’re still learning solo, meaning that finding help will be hard if you get stuck. But if you’re only planning on studying a few minutes a day and have realistic goals (A1 or A2) this could be a doable amount.
    If this is your budget and you’re studying to A1 or A2, add +5% of your total time. If you’re studying to B1 or B2, add +7%.
  • Parts of various pieces of classical architecture against a blue sky

    For my 2019 Paris trip I splurged a lot on French immersion, but normally my budget is a modest $20 / week

    $10-15 / week – For the casual French learner, $10-15 a week is a modest but comfortable budget. If you look at it in the schema of a month, $40-70 is perfect for a subscription or a textbook so you can study on your own, plus a private class every month with someone who can help you if you get stuck. (And not to mention how great language practice is!) Most of my language learning friends start their budgets here.
    If this is your total budget, leave your total as it is.

  • $20-30 / week – This has always been my preferred language learning budget! Still, I know it may be out of reach for some people. This will get you something like 1 or 2 private classes per month (depending on the language and how expensive the classes are) and some nice resources to use for solo study time. You won’t feel pressed for money and you’ll have room to experiment with various subscriptions or multiple textbooks.
    If this is your French budget, subtract -3% from your total time.
  • $30 – 40 / week – Hey big spender! This budget, if you can afford it, is extremely nice–especially if you really want really make progress with a language. At this budget, you can have a private class every week plus afford solo study materials–and still use some of the free resources online. This is generally how much I spend on my own French. With it, I get one private class per week (with plenty of homework) plus a subscription to a journaling program that I can play with on weekends. It’s really really nice, but not always maintainable long term.
    If this is your financial budget, subtract -5%
  • $40 – 50 / week – This is the upper limit of what you should do. When I’ve done big “push months” (normally right before a trip when I want to cram in a bit of extra language learning) I’ve been able to afford a private class, additional informal tutoring, plus all of the materials I’ve wanted. It’s not sustainable long-term for most people (either financially or how much effort it’s worth) but another option is to save part of it and put it away for immersion classes somewhere abroad. You’ll make fast progress with the language if you can keep it up, but for a lot of people it’s not great long-term. Bigger isn’t always better. If this is your total budget still only subtract -5% (although you’ll likely get more learning in every single week).
  • $50+ / week – There is no reason you need to spend this much on a language. At this point, you’re spending so much time in classes or with purchased materials that you can’t even use everything you buy. Even if you have the money languages cannot be purchased. You would be wiser to invest more time than money.

A pen photographed above paper which says "december language goals"Be realistic with your schedule

How much time can you realistically set aside every day?

“Hours!” says the new and excited learner. “I’m so motivated!”

But here’s the thing: motivation is temporary.

You can read more about what I wrote on my friend’s language blog, but motivation wanes. What’s much more important is keeping the habit.

So we’re going to put away a tiny chunk of time every day to dedicate it towards your learning.

Think of a moment when no one and nothing will disturb you.

For me, I study 1-3 languages daily between 7-8a before my work starts at 9a. I believe podcaster Kerstin Cable dedicates her Sunday mornings to Welsh for a few hours. For language designer Becca it’s 30min shared between 2 languages during her lunch break. And for others, it may well be every Tuesday and Thursday night for a big 90min session, plus Sunday mornings.

The point is to get creative. Find something that is really truly distraction-free.

And then put it in your calendar.

So let’s look at some options for how much time you should put aside a day to learn French:

  • 5min / day – 5min a day is enough for 1 YouTube video or a few minutes with an app, but not much more. I would call this a “maintenance” level. This is about how much time I give my Portuguese, which I’m not trying to improve but just trying to maintain at it’s B1. If you’re trying to learn from scratch, keep reading.

If this is how much time you can dedicate to learning French per day, that’s better than being inconsistent.

But I recommend looking at following equation:

[your number of hours as it is x 60min] = number of min

That number of min / 5min = how many days you will need to achieve your goal.

So I truly suggest you think about bumping that number a bit.

5-30min / day – Amazing! If you can find a nook of 5-30min a day, this is an awesome and realistic starter goal. In this time you could watch an Easy Langauge YouTube video to get in some listening practice, play with an app, and then do a bit of more serious studying such as flashcards or a workbook. This is normally how much time I give to each of my languages when I study. (And, if you can add in a “fun” day once a week by adding a class on a Sunday or a foreign film some night, you’ll find yourself learning faster than you could have imagined!)

If this is how much time you can dedicate to your language, awesome! 

  • 30-60min / day – Ambitious! If this is what you’re thinking, you should really make sure you can find a nook of time this large every day. However, if you’re an advanced student, this can be really beneficial for how much vocab you need to learn. At the time of this writing, this is how much time I’m putting into Spanish, and that daily routine looks like:
  1. Watching 10-15min of news in the language.
  2. Doing 10min of daily writing, which is sent to a private teacher for corrections at the end of the week.
  3. 15-20min of flashcards on Anki.

Do not feel any pressure to study this much every day, especially when you’re just starting out. It’s a lot. But hey, if you fall in love with French, maybe in a year you’ll find that you really want to study this much!

  • 60-90min / day – If you have a specific reason to polish your language, this is a nice “sprint” time. Before I went to France for my 30th birthday, I put 90min aside every day for three weeks to work on my French to really get me prepared, but that was after over a year studying much less.

At this level you’ll see faster progress. But it’s hard not to feel burnt out after 2 or 3 weeks of studying this much time every day. (And burnout is the real killer of all potential language learners!)

  • 90min+ / day – Unless you’re retired (and even if you are) this probably isn’t sustainable. When you get a day off, maybe treat yourself to some enjoyable studying like reading short stories or watching a foreign film. Still for a daily habit go check out one of the lower levels.

 

A woman labeled "language teachers" screams in fright. A clown labeled "I don't have time to study outside of class but I need to be fluent by next Wednesday" jumps out at her.

Trust me. “I don’t have time to study” will waste both your time and money. But if you can match every 1hr of weekly class with 5-10min of daily French study, you’ll be golden.

  • 1hr / week – What if you can only find one hour a week to study your language, and that one hour is with a tutor? Well, you’ll find yourselves both very frustrated very quickly. Advice: if you can only carve out an hour per week to learn French, spend it with a tutor. Then spend 5-10min every day on top of that reviewing what you learned to solidify so you can move forward after.

 

  • 3hrs / week – Studies have shown that learning a little every day goes a lot farther than a big chunk all together. For me personally, spending a nice lazy Saturday morning with my favorite French resources and a cup of coffee is a luxury! It’s always three amazing hours well spent. But I also balance it out with 5-10min of daily study where I touch the language a bit every day.

And how long does it take to learn French?

As we’ve seen, there’s no one answer.

But how long will it take you to learn French?

At this point in the article, you now know!

Leave a comment below and tell future readers how long you think your current goals will take. Is it weeks, months, or years?

Then, once you start, you can come back to this page and look at all of the progress you made.

And if you’re relearning French, make sure you check out the page on how to relearn French and (if French is a family language) all about heritage languages.

Good luck, and I hope you find it as rewarding as I do!

Multilingual Marissa

I'm Marissa, and not only did I fail out of high school Spanish, but I also managed to forget my native language (Polish) in the process. After 10 years of establishing my career in the arts I decided to give language learning one last chance, and many years (and languages) later, I now help others online learn or relearn languages. I now speak English, Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese and am relearning Polish, my heritage language. I've also studied Italian, German, and other languages to low- or intermediate-levels for fun. If you want to relearn a language, I'd love to help!

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