Are you planning a trip and want to know how long it takes to learn languages on Duolingo?
That sounds really exciting! Traveling is one of the most amazing things you can do in life, as you get the chance to meet new people and explore other cultures.
And even if a life-changing adventure is not the reason you want to learn a new language, the process is a journey in and of itself.
Sadly, with high lesson prices and tight schedules, it can be difficult to attend an in-person class to get the learning started, which is why you’re turning to Duolingo.
I know you have a million questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Below, you’ll learn how long it takes on average for someone to learn languages on the platform, as well as other useful information, such as:
Keep reading to become a master of languages!
First, let’s talk about what you should expect from a Duolingo course. Ever since the platform was founded in 2011, it has been the go-to for millions of people around the world. It’s a really useful tool that can get you from zero to a very decent level if you’re willing to put in the work.
That being said, the service alone will not make you a fluent speaker, and there are many reasons for this. The course is designed to walk you through the basics of conversation in the present tense, and as you progress through it, you’ll start learning past and future as well.
This all sounds great, but the issue is that you’ll never encounter slang or common expressions.
This can quickly put you on the spot when talking to a native speaker, as oftentimes locals have peculiar ways of speaking their minds.
Moreover, although the structure of the course is excellent, sometimes you want the opposite of structure, as a real conversation can take many directions and you need to be prepared.
How long it takes to learn a language in Duolingo will depend greatly on several factors, like the language you pick and how consistent you are with your sessions. If you take a crack at it daily, you should be able to complete the course within a few months up to a year.
Throughout my time as a Duolingo user, I’ve come across many difficulties that could have been avoided entirely. To keep you from making the same mistakes, here are some recommendations:
Don’t push yourself too much: I know how exciting it can be to learn a new language, but pushing your boundaries can end up being counterproductive. Common sense would dictate that, the more you study, the faster you’ll go; however, this is not really the case.
Our minds are wonderful machines capable of absorbing a lot of knowledge, but there’s a limit. Researchers claim that daily 30-minute study sessions are ideal when we’re trying to learn something new, so spending hours on end will likely only hinder your progress.
Be consistent: I know some days it can be very hard to dedicate time to your language study sessions, but discipline is essential when it comes to learning, so try your best to stick to a daily routine.
Go through every level more than once: Duolingo lets you pass a section even if you make a few mistakes. This is not entirely a bad thing, but sometimes it might cause you to move on when a lesson has not been learned correctly.
If possible, go back to it until you make zero mistakes.
Start off simple: If you’re not bilingual, I’d recommend avoiding languages that are too complicated. At least at the beginning. Provided that English is your first language, try learning French, Spanish, or Norwegian.
As opposed to popular belief, the latter seems to be one of the quickest languages to learn for English speakers.
Following along the lines of point #1, I want to reiterate that, if you want to become a fluent speaker and be mistaken for a native one day, you’ll need to complement your learning with external resources.
There are many alternatives to Duolingo out there that are cheap or even free. For instance, you could start watching movies/series and playing video games in the language you’re interested in. Start off with subtitles and as you feel more comfortable, remove them and keep an eye on how much you still understand.
You can also try joining the classes available at Duolingo, where you can have 1-1 sessions with native speakers. Most of them cost between $10-20 and will surely boost your mastery of the language.
At the end of the day, how long it takes to learn languages on Duolingo varies from person to person. But with additional resources, the process will surely be quicker.
As I mentioned earlier, all languages are beautiful and interesting, but some are much simpler to learn than others, especially when you take writing into consideration. Languages like Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean have their own alphabets, so you’re presented with a double challenge.
According to several sources, Chinese Mandarin is the most difficult language to learn for English speakers, since it doesn’t have many similarities with the language, as opposed to German, for example.
It’s very important that you take into consideration the complexity of the language you’re trying to study, and the available additional resources there are for you to learn it. We live in an age where you can find movies, series, and even games in any language, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to struggle a little to get some practice.
Now, to answer your original question, I dug a little deeper online and found a couple of estimations for the simpler and more complicated languages. Many resources claim that, while it takes about 15 weeks to start being conversational at a basic level in Spanish or French, Mandarin requires up to 50.
Moreover, experts say that in order to become a fluent Chinese Mandarin speaker, you’ll need to invest at least a whopping 2,200 hours, which, split into daily 30-minute study sessions, equals 12 years!
Food for thought, huh?
Learning a new language is just like any other activity. The more efficient you can be about it, the more benefits you’ll be able to get.
As I mentioned earlier, some languages are simpler to learn than others, and it’s a good idea to tackle them first if you’re not bilingual. This is where Romance languages come in.
In case you don’t know what they are, I’m more than happy to explain.
Between the 3rd-century B.C., and the 5th-century A.D., the Roman Empire was at its peak, and it had conquered most of what we know today as France, England, Spain, Portugal, Italy, India, and Northern Africa.
If you remember your history lessons back in school, you’ll know that Latin was the language Romans of the era spoke. As time went by, and after this empire fell, Latin started changing and several countries started speaking their own version of it while keeping the original as a root.
A couple of millennia later, these languages are what we call Romance languages, which are French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Romanian.
Now, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese share the most similarities. In fact, you can ask any Spanish speaker, and they’ll tell you that they can understand almost everything people from Portugal or Italy are saying, even without having studied the languages.
So, if you want to become fluent in a language that will indirectly open the doors to a couple of others, then starting with any Romance language will do wonders for you.
Lastly, let’s discuss the importance of personalized classes and how they can help you improve to become a much better speaker. As I’ve said many times during this article, Duolingo is a great tool to help you get started and learn the basics, but the course itself won’t get you any further than the intermediate level.
Some people are perfectly fine with this, and if you’re one of them, that’s ok. Not everyone has to become a native speaker. But if that is one of your goals, then enrolling in 1-1 courses with fluent speakers can definitely help.
You can do this on your own by asking about them at a community college near you, or you can use Duolingo’s database.
Whatever you choose, it’s almost a certainty that it will boost your progress significantly.
That about covers it!
It’s only natural to ask yourself how long it will take to learn a language on Duolingo. However, with so many factors to consider and so many differences between languages, it’s impossible to provide a single answer to the question.
That being said, I hope this piece has helped you adjust some expectations and make the process clearer. Make sure to pick a language that you can use in everyday life, but don’t let that be the only factor that drives your decision.
Sometimes, learning something new is about how it makes you feel, regardless of how difficult it might be.
Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If you found this article helpful it’ll make you very happy to learn that there’s new content to enjoy weekly. While our latest masterpiece comes out of the oven, why not check out our other resources below and become a Tech Detective yourself?
Best of luck to you!