I’m often asked: “How long does it take to learn a language?” I do wish there was a straight answer: here is a simple way to approach this.
A reliable approach
Although many factors will determine the time required by and individual to learn and master a new language, here one way to make an estimate: the number of words you are able to use!
Using the main frameworks in this industry, this is a fairly accurate estimate for European languages:
With 500 words, what can you talk about?
You can have simple everyday conversations. This is equivalent to A1: basic user.
With 1000 words, what can you talk about?
You can have slightly more complex everyday conversations. This is equivalent to A2: basic user.
With 2000 words, what can you talk about?
Work! This is what you need to apply for a job in most European countries. This is equivalent to B1: independent user.
With 4000 words, what can you talk about?
Specialised topics. You can talk about more technical and specialised topics in your field. This is equivalent to B2: independent user.
With 8000 words, what can you talk about?
Everything! This is what is normally used by a native speaker. This is equivalent to C1: proficient user.
With 16000 words, what can you talk about?
Welcome to eloquence: this is what is used by a highly educated native speaker. This is equivalent to C2: proficient user.
So, the next question is: how many words can you realistically memorise and use in one hour of lesson?
Well, typically the teacher will prepare a lesson in which you will come across around 50 words in each hour; the beauty is that you need to keep active just 20-25 words!!! Now, that is very doable 🙂
This means that if you join one of our Beginner Taster Courses, in just 4 weeks you should be able to use around 400 words, enough for you to interact in the most common situations: now, isn’t that amazing???
This is because our teachers focus on communication so everything you learn during your lessons is there to scaffold your learning and facilitate your speaking.
Do you have a question?
Written by Lara Panzini
About the author
Lara Panzini started her carrier in education as a qualified primary school teacher. She holds a BSc (First Class Honours) Professional Studies from London University – Academic research methods applied to the workplace. She specialised in language teaching by obtaining a TEFL certificate and a certificate in Teaching Italian as a Foreign Language, RSA Diploma in Teaching Foreign Language to Adults (DTFLA), RSA Assessor Award: Training and Development (NCVQ: Level 3) and is a Business Cultural Trainer.
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