With the increase in tourism and globalisation in recent years, among all the languages, French remains really popular as a foreign language across the globe.
It is now the world’s 5th most widely used language. And, if you are looking forward to learning the French language but have some doubts in your mind, then I must say that you have landed on the right page.
This article will answer most of your questions related to your journey of learning the French language from scratch. Before I answer your question- “How long does it take to learn French?” let us first understand the French level you want to achieve by enrolling in a French class.
It is crucial to identify the exact level of fluency you want to achieve before enrolling in a French class as the amount of time you’ll be studying will depend directly upon it. There are many shortterm courses, online programs, language centres and schools etc. claiming to make you an expert in speaking French within a few days and most popularly within 3 months but, in my opinion, all those advertisements, CD’s, short courses claiming to make you learn French in 3 months are a big scam!
Just don’t fall in their trap! Language learning is a long-term commitment so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by hoping for overnight miracles.
What does the Level of Fluency Mean when Speaking French?
Now, the next immediate question coming in your mind would be the exact meaning of the level of fluency you are wanting to achieved. Let us delve a little deeper into it and find the answer:
Try answering one of these questions:
“Are you wanting to learn French because you are going on a vacation in Europe and want to make basic conversations with the people over there?”
“Are you permanently moving to France or going there for a few months and want to have a good hold on the French language?”
“Do you want to learn French for professional reasons and speak it just like the native French speaker?”
“It is for personal development, or as a fascinating hobby?”
Well, by now, I think you might have got a clearer answer to at least one of the above questions and that would define the level of proficiency/ fluency you are looking forward to achieve from
your French classes.
How long will it take for me to reach … level in French?
Let us take a look at the below diagram as it will make the whole concept more straightforward and will give an answer to your previous question- how long will it take to learn French?
The below-mentioned diagram shows the level of proficiency categorized according to the learners by the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR):
From the above table, it is clear the number of hours you will be devoting to gain the desired proficiency of the French language. Though, still, the number of hours will vary as per the person. Every person takes time to learn new things (especially if it’s your first foreign language), and this is absolutely normal as we all are humans and not pre-programmed machines.
By now, we hope it’s clearer to you what is your desired level of language proficiency you want to achieve for speaking French and how long will it take to learn French.
Two Major Factors Impacting the French Learning Period
Along with the French level you want to achieve in learning the French language, there are a few other factors that directly impact the time you will be taking to learn the new language. Here are those major factors:
• Similarity or difference between your native language and French language
One of the major reasons that decide the time you will take to learn the French language is how similar, or different your native language is to the French language. If you are a native speaker or by any chance happen to know Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese, then you are at an advantageous position. This group of languages is known as Romance languages and is descended from Latin. French also comes in this group, and hence, there are many similar words and phrases in all these languages, and thus, expected learning time for French gets reduced.
If you are native English or Chinese speaker for example, then you might take up a little longer to learn the French language as these languages do not belong to the Latin language group. Luckily for English speakers, we share the same alphabet (with a handful of accented letters) and hundreds of cognates (words that look the same in both languages and share their meaning too).
• Motivational factors
Motivation factors play an even more crucial role in determining how long you will take to learn the French language. It is very obvious if you have a personal interest in learning the French language, then you will learn it quickly as compared to the candidates who will be doing it forcefully under professional pressure or any other pressure. So, keep your motivation – AKA your ‘why’ – clear throughout the learning process.
By now, it might be pretty clear to you to access how long it will take for you to learn the French language.
Just remember if you are driven, motivated, consistent and excited to learn a second language, you’ll be speaking, reading and understanding French before you even know it.