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How much time does it take to learn German?

When we set out to learn a new language, we are motivated and want to progress as quickly as possible. But how much time does it take to learn German?

This question might float through your mind as you dive into the Grammar, to have some sort of idea of how long you will be cramming for.

The answer to this is unfortunately not a simple one. It depends on a lot of factors and context.

To help you get a better idea of what you can expect from your journey with German, here are a few questions that will have an impact on how long it will take!

Do you already know a language similar to German?

When learning a new language, this is probably the first question you should ask yourself.

The reason this is so important is that knowing a similar language will give you tremendous advantages when it comes to grammar and vocabulary, or maybe even pronunciation!

You can compare similar languages to learning to play Ukulele when you already know how to play the guitar.

But what are similar languages to German? You are lucky, English is already in the same language family as the Germanic languages.

Other similar languages are for example Dutch, Danish or Swedish!

How much time do you have to learn German?

This is pretty self-explanatory. Someone studying for 30 hours a week will make tremendously faster progress than someone who has an hour every weekend to study German.

This is because any skill requires repetition and practice!

How much time are you willing to put in?

Which methods do you use?

Your techniques and methods are even more important than the time you put in each week. If you figured out a very efficient way to learn, you might make the same progress as someone who puts in more time with less efficient techniques!

A great and fun way to learn German is to watch TV shows and movies in German!

For improving language and communication skills, the number one most effective technique is to speak to Native speakers.

This will get you a lot further than spending hours upon hours buried in your textbook!

What is your definition of learning a language?

Of course, a big factor in how long it takes to learn German is your definition of what “knowing German” actually is!

Do you want to get to a basic conversational level where you can travel and ask for help, or do you want to be at a proficient level that will allow you to understand and talk about complex topics?

The official answer

Believe it or not, there is actually an official answer to the question “How long does it take to learn German?”.

The answer was given by the US Foreign Service Institute after conducting a study, and is as follows:

The FSI estimated that it will take approximately 30 weeks (750 hours) to learn German for English speakers. 

If you calculate it, this will be at approximately 25 hours of studying a week.

As mentioned above, this time will greatly vary depending on the different factors listed, but you can use this as an estimate.

If you usually study German for 5 hours a week, it might take you about 5x as long, so about 150 weeks, but don’t get too hung up on the numbers!

Learn as much and as frequently as you can, and the results will come! Don’t give up!

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