Bonjour! French is a beautiful language, it is romantic, and it can be fun to learn. French is the second most learned foreign language in the world after English, and over 200 million people today speak French; making it a popular and desirable second language choice.
When choosing to learn a second language, one of the initial concerns many people have is how long it will actually take to pick up the language. So if your question is: how long does it take to learn French; we are going to go over some estimates and show you how you can learn French fast in just 5 simple steps.
Nous allons commencer!
French Fluency Scale
When it comes to learning anything new, especially a language, the speed, time, and proficiency that a person will pick up a language will vary. However, to get a better idea of the time it can take someone to learn French; you can consult a French fluency scale. There are five different levels of French fluency:
- Beginner (A1): The beginning stage of French is also known as the “Tourist Class”. These people are limited with their vocabulary and grammar, but can speak simple greetings and phrases, such as: “Hello, how are you”, “What is your name”, or “How old are you”. They also know how to count in French, tell time, and can ask and speak about the weather.
- Intermediate (A2-B1): A person who is intermediate in their French is able to construct various phrases and statements that deal with: time, weather, location, desire, and dislike. They may still make some errors, but can generally understand native speakers when spoken to.
- Advanced (B2-C1): Those who are advanced in French are considered to be fluent. They can understand different forms of media in French and can hold a conversation with native French speakers. They can also easily construct sentences and use different tenses, such as past, present, and future in the speaking.
- High Advanced (C2): Individuals high advanced in the French language are basically fluent. They can speak vibrantly, express themselves easily, and have no problem navigating through conversation, texts, and writing in French.
Below are some time table estimates of how long it will take to learn French as applied to the above levels:
Proficient: A2, B1
Very Proficient or Fluent: B2, C1, C2
- Proficient in French through immersion: 3-6 months
- Proficient in French though college courses / non-immersion: 1 to 2 years
- Proficient in French through high school courses / non-immersion: 3 to 4 years
- Very proficient or fluent in French through immersion: about 2 years
- Very proficient or fluent in French through classes / non- immersion: 4 to 6 years
Factors in Language Learning
There are a few factors that come into play when learning a second language. Especially if your goal is to become fluent, fluency, and even picking up French could take awhile depending on these factors:
- Your age: The age in which a person starts speaking French can impact how fluent they become and how long it takes them to learn French. Many studies have shown that the earlier a person is introduced to a new language, the better their pronunciation will be. Younger children tend to learn new languages faster and easier than older people or those who have already completed their education.
- Time and Effort: The time and effort you put into learning French, or any new skill, will impact on how long it takes you to master it. When learning a new language motivation is a huge factor. You have to be ready and willing to learn and immerse yourself in a new language. This includes: communicating with native speakers, traveling, and experiencing the different aspects that the language’s culture has to offer. Instead of practicing a language weekly, practicing every day will great decrease the amount of time it will take for you to pick up the language. For example, someone who spends an hour a day will learn more than someone who commits to only an hour a week.
- Capability: Each person has different and individualized ways of learning, and some people are better and faster at picking up certain methods than others. For example, certain people can easily master up to four languages, while some people even struggle with speaking their native tongue.
Follow these easy steps to pick up French in a quick and easy manner.
Step 1: Know your learning style. Decide whether or not you want to learn French online, in a classroom, or by listening to audio tapes or a native speaker. All of this will be dependent on the type of learning style that works best for you.
Step 2: Aim to learn and memorize at least 30 words and phrases each day. If you stick to this, in 90 days you will already know about 80% of the French language.
Step 3: Learn the structure of the language of how the parts of speech work with each other. Make sure you immerse yourself in French grammar and learn to speak with proper pronunciation.
Step 4: To better familiarize and immerse yourself in the language, start reading and writing in French. These will help imprint words and phrases into your head for easier memorization. Also, listen to things in French. Download some French music, French movies, or French television shows and practice imitating or repeating words that you hear.
Step 5: Start speaking in French, even if you feel embarrassed or do not think you know enough. Everyone needs to start somewhere. Speak on your own if this is more comfortable for you at first, but eventually aim to speak with someone who knows French themselves.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The answer to the golden question of: how long does it take to learn French will ultimately depend on you. Practice as much and efficiently as possible, and you will be able to learn basic French in less than a year. To jump start your French-speaking journey, enroll in this course taught by a French teacher that will help you with everything you need to know about the French language.