How long does it take to learn and speak French?
How long does it take to learn and speak French – the reality:
When I start learning a language, I always wonder how long will it take to improve and actually speak the language. Learning a foreign language and finally being able to speak it is so rewarding. If you are reading this article, you too are certainly wondering “How long does it take to learn and speak French?”
It’s a fact: by choosing private French classes, you will learn faster and more efficiently as you will be the unique actor in your training. However, after searching, benchmarking and finally choosing the private French teacher of your dreams, it’s still hard to know how many hours you will need to progress.
Whether you choose a private French course or a group class, both are an investment in terms of money and time. When potential students reach out to me about my private French classes I’m often asked how many hours of private French classes are necessary to progress. The fast answer is that it’s not always the amount of hours that matter, but the quality of teaching and your own personal commitment to study.
Below I will explain in detail the different factors that will affect your progress while learning French or any other language.
Have you learned French before or any other foreign language?
No. If this is the first time you are learning a second language, your brain will need some time to accept sharing the language room with a new roommate ie. the second language.
In the beginning, the second language will sleep on the couch. This signifies the period when you are introduced to the new language : irregulars, pronunciation, … This period is as uncomfortable as sleeping on the couch. Your brain can react and resist a little bit. Can you imagine, you are living alone for many decades and all of a sudden you have a new roommate. Once your brain understands that French is the new roomy and that French isn’t a b* but a friend, you’ll be alright.
After some time, your brain will finally give the roomy a proper bedroom. You start speaking French without translation (or asking the permission to your first language). All the periods above are fun parts of the learning journey.
Alternatively, yes, you have already learned French or another language. Your brain is already used to sharing space with another language. No big deal about it.
Are you motivated?
Motivation will be your partner in crime to reach your objectives in French. If you are not really motivated to learn and speak French, I highly recommend you don’t even start because your progress will be little or completely absent. It will be a waste of time for you and your teacher. I prefer to be honest about it.
Will you have time between the classes to study?
Attending private French classes will help you improve your French. This is obvious. Nevertheless, your French won’t improve without efforts and work outside the classes. Working between your classes is mandatory if you want to memorize and fix what you have studied previously. French is a little bit like chemistry. If you don’t know your basis such as the most common verbs and vocabulary, it will be impossible for you to follow the next classes and to progress. You will be stuck at the same level, forever. There is no doubt about it and maybe you’ve already experienced it before.
How frequently will you attend the classes?
Based in my experience as a private French teacher for a decade, the key to your success in speaking French isn’t the amount of hours but the regularity. I explain my point with a concrete example. You are about to attend a private French course once a week. You are more motivated than never. This time, you gonna learn French for sure! Once a week for three months at least! Promise! At the end of the day, you realize that your working and social life don’t allow you to attend your french classes on a weekly basis and/or become more important than your objectives in French. You will attend one hour or one hour and a half every two or three weeks. Your frequency is zero. Unless you have an intermediate level and you are working on your own, you won’t progress in French at all. Rien de rien ! If you want an honest tip: if you think you will enter in the irregular student category, I also highly recommend you not to start a course, unless, I repeat, you have at least an intermediate or advanced level.
Do you have a deadline? Such as a departure to another city or an exam?
Some students want to pass an official exam to get their level certified. In my opinion, even if you don’t really need it, it’s an excellent idea because it gives you a deadline and an official certification. There are many certifications available out there. The ones recognized internationally and in French speaking countries remain the Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF) and the Diplôme approfondi en la langue française (DALF). The DELF and DALF are the French equivalent of Goethe, Cambridge and Cervantes certifications. Those diplomas are given by the French minister of Education, pas mal, n’est-ce pas? From level beginner (A1) up to upper intermediate (B2) you can pass the DELF. If you reach the advanced and proficiency level or you want to become a French teacher, you will pass the DALF (C1-C2). Another personal deadline can be a departure abroad, a job application, the birth of your kid, your wedding, …. As an adult you are the best person to set up your own deadline. The job of your private French teacher is to guide you to reach it the best way possible.
The bottom line
Taking all the above factors into consideration seriously, after three months of private French classes once or twice a week, you should feel comfortable. After six months of regular classes and self studies, you can reach an intermediate level. It will take you up to a year to be fluent and reach an advanced level. People with latin native languages might reach the next level faster than others, again, if they study and they are regular. With that said, if the quality of teaching is poor or your own (or self) studies is non-existent, the results will be appreciated later (or possibly never).
To conclude: With motivation, frequency, time and study, you will succeed in learning French. Now you have all the information you need to join a private French class. Have fun!
What about you? What is your experience while learning French? How long did it take you to learn and speak French? How many hours of private French classes did you take, before you were you really able to enjoy some progress?