In some cultures, knowing how to speak different languages fluently is a sign of a rather intelligent individual. However, as some of our readers might already be aware of, learning a new language could take AGES. It’s not something most of us can pick up quickly, especially since our brains might be a crucial factor. So, for the most part, we would rely on a translator device, like Muama Enence. After all, if you cannot beat them, just let it slide and opt for gadgets!
Yet, if we do want to learn a new language, we have to consider the number of hours, weeks and months it would take us to become fluent. In today’s world, time is money. We wouldn’t want to spend years learning something that would take smarter people even longer to become fluent in. So, without further ado, let’s see which factors influence our ability to speak another language.
First Things First — Are There Some Languages that Might Prove too Difficult to Learn?
Now, we all know that English is a bit tricky to learn for some people, possibly because their brain connectivity is not the strongest. There are even Americans that struggle with English grammar — they find it terribly confusing! However, what they might not be aware of is that English is one of the easiest languages to learn, along with Spanish, Norwegian, and Afrikaans, among others. It would take about 24 weeks to become proficient at it.
So, which languages might not be such a piece of cake? Well, there are languages such as Serbian that boast a rather complex set of grammar rules. Additionally, Greek, Hindi, and Vietnamese would also take much longer to learn — around 44 weeks, give or take.
Yet, even those aren’t the hardest ones around. In fact, one of the most spoken languages in the world, Chinese, takes the cake with its complicated writing system and characters. We’d run into similar obstacles with Japanese, Korean, and Arabic too. At best, it would take us almost two years to be able to communicate in one of these languages.
Scared? Don’t Worry — Here’s What Learning a New Language Depends On
Now, we shouldn’t be afraid to try learning a new language. Becoming fluent in French, Spanish, or even German would be good for us. Not only would we put our brains to good use, but we would also gain a better understanding of other cultures. So, when we finally do travel abroad, we might have a lot more fun knowing exactly how to order something, buy souvenirs, and have exciting conversations with the locals.
Yet, just our will to learn a new language is not enough. Of course, it’s a crucial factor, as, without it, we have nothing. But, there are a few others we ought to keep in mind:
We’d Find It a Lot Easier If We’re Already Bilingual
Kids who grow up in bilingual homes may find it easier to learn other languages, as they already have two they’re fluent in. In essence, they’re already accustomed to the idea of different grammar rules, and given they’ve successfully overcome them, learning another one would be easy!
However, even if we’re not bilingual, there might be something else we could use to our advantage. Today, most schools require students to learn Latin. So, if we know it already, we’ll find it a lot easier to learn languages that have Germanic or Latin roots, like Italian, French, and Spanish.
Even when we consider the grammar rules of, say, English and Spanish, there are a bunch of similarities. So, if we work hard enough, we will be able to use those similarities to compare the two languages, gaining further understanding of both in the meantime.
Exposure to the New Language Can Speed Up the Process of Acquisition
Of course, most of us would have to learn a new language in a classroom. However, that may not be the easiest way to acquire it. As it turns out, those who are exposed to a language for whatever reason have the upper hand. Instead of just learning all the basics and trying to memorize lists of verbs, they are actually using the language every day. As such, they learn it faster, purely because they’re “living” as a speaker of that same language.
Time Is Essential Too
Now, most language courses offer one or two classes per week. Unfortunately, that might not be enough for those who are not willing to learn outside the classroom. Think about it — if we only have classes on the weekends, by the time next Saturday rolls around, we might have already forgotten everything.
In contrast, learning a new language is far easier and faster if we set aside at least an hour a day for it. Whether we’d use that hour to memorize grammar rules or just read something in the target language, it doesn’t matter. We’d still learn faster because we’re exposed to it more often.
So, How Many Hours Would It Take to Learn a New Language?
Most of us like to know just how much time an endeavor will take. That’s why the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has come up with some ballpark numbers that could let us plan out our learning sessions accordingly.
The most important thing to remember is that the closer the language is to our mother tongue, the easier it will be to acquire it. So, given that we’re native English speakers, for similar languages, such as Italian and Danish, we’d have to set aside about 600 hours.
The harder the language gets, the more hours we’d have to invest. So, for languages that are quite different from English, both linguistically and culturally, it would take us anywhere from 1,100 to 2,200 hours.
So, is learning a new language even worth it now that there are devices that instantly translate whatever we’ve said? Of course! We never know what knowing another language could bring us. From excellent job prospects to cultural exchanges, being at least bilingual might make all our dreams come true. The only thing left to figure out is where we’ll find those 1,000 hours to study!