How fast can I learn Spanish?

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There is a constant question I’ve been asked a lot during my nine years of experience as a teacher. That question is:

“when will I be able to speak Spanish (good)?”.

The goal seems to be more important than the journey. Learners need a more or less precise forecast of the ending of their process, and they need it now. Even though it is not really possible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer with a specific number, I will try to do so. At the end of this article you will find an estimate amount of hours to become an independent user of the Spanish language. But before knowing that number, ask yourself these questions.

What level will you consider good enough?

Will you use your Spanish to sing along reggaeton songs in the shower, or is your next job change dependent on your proficiency to communicate in the tongue of Cervantes?

Language skills are divided into six levels. The first one is equivalent to some basic knowledge, and the last one is similar to the understanding and expression of a native speaker. However, not every student aims to become an expert. In fact, most students are more than happy with only reaching the fourth level, also called B2. Therefore, to try to provide an answer with an amount of time, it is necessary to ask the students what level will be sufficient for them, depending on what they plan to use their skills for.

-BÁSIC: no previous knowledge of Spanish
-A1 (Elementary 1 y 2): you can deal with very limited day-to-day activities
-A2 (Elementary 3 y Pre-Intermediate 1): you can deal with predictable day-to-day activities.
-B1 (Pre-Intermediate 2 e Intermediate 1): you can deal with varied familiar everyday activities.
-B2 (Intermediate 2 y 3): you can deal with simple work-related tasks.
-C1 (EXAMS): you can deal with complex work-related tasks
-C2: you can use the language fluently, accurately and appropriately.

“Most students are more than happy with only reaching the fourth level, also called B2”.

What other language(s) do you know?

Is your mother tongue not an indo-european one? Will Spanish be your first foreign language or are you already bilingual?

Needless to say that if your first language is Chinese, but you’re already fluent in English, your process will be completely different than if your native and only language is Italian. Each tongue has its own mechanisms and organization. While some are similar to each other -or even intelligible-, others have very little in common. A Chinese student, who also speaks English, will be faced with completely new grammar structures and challenging pronunciation problems. On the other hand, the monolingual Italian one will have to make a greater effort to avoid contaminating Spanish with words and structures from their own language, even when “they sound natural”.

Each process of learning is unique, and not all of them require the same amount of time and effort.

How used are you to absorbing knowledge?

Are you still a young student? Or is learning Spanish a retirement hobby?

When it comes to remembering vocabulary, your level of memory fitness may affect your performance. A retired student, who has lost the practice of assimilating new concepts will have a slightly harder time than a younger student, who is still at school. Of course both students will be successful at the end, as long as they remain perseverant. However, the results may start to appear at a different pace.

Where are you now?

Are you already living in a Spanish speaking community, or are you somewhere with no or little access to your target language?

The amount of exposure will also play a role in the speed at which you will learn. It is not the same to be forced to speak as a survival tool, than remembering words and concepts in a more abstract way. However, today it is a lot easier to find resources in any language you can imagine, at any time, thanks to the internet. 

If yu want to speak to and get to know native Spanish speakers, you can join my Monthly Language Exchange, the third Thursday of the month, via Zoom.

Yes, it’s 100% free!

the total number of hours is…

After having considered all these variables and to conclude and answer the million-dollar question, according to the Common European Framework of Reference, a given student without prior knowledge needs around 500-600 hours of study to reach a B2 level of fluency in a given language.

A1At least 100
A2Aprox. 180-200
B1Aprox. 350-400
B2Aprox. 500-600
C1Aprox. 700-800
C2More than 1000
According to the CEFR

So, if you are an average student, and you constantly study two hours per day, three times a week, for around 22 months, it will take you almost two years to become an independent user of Spanish.

Of course you will start perceiving some results even during your first course, but after 500hours you may no longer need classes to keep on learning.

To start now, please send me a message to book a free intake.


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