Is it possible to learn french in 3 months?

by | Sep 26, 2021 | French language tips

You’ve probably seen this claim advertised somewhere before: Be fluent in French in just 3 months! Whether it was the title of a YouTube video, blog post, or a targeted ad you’ve probably wondered … Is it really possible? Or is this just clickbait?

When I do my Instagram lives I’m sometimes asked by eager attendees (usually in English) how they can learn French in a few months. I also often see in the comments followers who have a burning need to progress their French studies and acquire a B2 level very, very quickly. 

As a language learner myself, I totally understand the sense of urgency that accompanies the natural excitement of progressing in your target language.

I’m a polyglot, and my experience learning languages in intensive courses will help you understand whether acquiring fluency in 3 months is possible or not.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

Learning Spanish

In my life, I’ve attended a total of three intensive courses so far. The first was when I was 19 years old and wanted to learn Spanish while living in Madrid.

The intensive course was in person (remember this was before online learning was popular) and had a decent rhythm. Lessons were 3 hours a day for 3 months. After I finished the course, I noticed quite a bit of improvement. I was able to get on in my day-to-day more comfortably, understanding more than I had before. But I wasn’t fluent by any means. Looking back, I had probably achieved a level of A2 or B1 with this 3-month commitment.

It was only after 3 more months of intensive courses that I was confident enough to reach the B2 level and have conversations with native speakers at full speed. Again, I was not perfect by any means and I made heaps of mistakes. But I was confident and comfortable enough to communicate in social situations, and that made my life in Spain awesome.

Learning English

The second intensive language course I ever took was for English. I committed to a one-month in-person course, for 3 hours per day.

To be honest, the pace was a complete and utter joke. We covered the material at a snail’s pace, making it an almost painful experience. For example, I remember spending 3 hours studying 2 pages of a book … leaving me (and probably the other students) completely frustrated.

The content of the course and the pace itself felt like it was made purposefully slow, as a way to keep students trapped in the program. Nothing more than a crappy strategy to keep students at a low level so they would continue spending money at the English school…

The dynamic of the classroom wasn’t great either. There were almost 20 students and a dismal team spirit. Though I managed to make a couple of friends, which made the course bearable, it was not a great experience overall.

I wound up feeling like I lost both my time and money. 

Learning Hebrew

My last experience attending an intensive course was when I studied Hebrew in Israel. Having taken a one-month intensive course for beginners the year prior, which I found pretty easy — I enrolled myself in a 6 weeks intensive course at the University of Tel Aviv.

I was in for a shock because this course was the most intensive course I’ve ever taken in my life!

Like my Spanish course years before, the Hebrew course was 3 hours per day. There were around 15 students in our group, mainly made up of people who already had quite a lot of experience and exposure to the language.

My plan upon arriving in Tel Aviv was to attend the course in the morning and take the afternoons off to explore the city.

The reality was completely different…

I spent most of my afternoon studying to avoid feeling overwhelmed and lost during the lessons. I knew if I missed even one class, I would be completely lost the next day. This was a huge and unprecedented challenge for me, testing my language skills like never before.

My efforts weren’t in vain. I learned a lot and almost reached the B2 level by the end of the course.

But … I would NEVER do it again. The rhythm was way too intense, to a point where I didn’t enjoy it. I realized that I much prefer a longer-paced course because even if I learned slower I’d at least have time to breathe and enjoy some downtime. 

What I’ve Learned 

Looking back now, I’m incredibly grateful for these 3 experiences learning Spanish, English, and Hebrew. They’ve helped me immensely as both a French teacher and school manager. And these experiences have informed and inspired the current group courses I offer at I Learn French.

But I need to be honest … so full disclaimer: Intensive group courses are not how I personally learn languages anymore.

The way I choose to learn languages today is totally different from the way I learned 10 years ago. Being a full-time teacher and now 35 years old, the commitment of intensive courses no longer suits me. My lifestyle, preferences, and needs have changed.

But is it possible to learn French in 3 months?

Okay, so after reading my story, my experience, and my reflections — you’re probably asking … enough already, CAN I learn French in just 3 months?

For the most part, I don’t believe it’s possible to be bilingual in only 3 months. And I don’t promote this messaging at my school. To be clear, at I Learn French, you will not be bilingual in 3 months. Why? Well, we offer longer-paced programs because they are more enjoyable for our students and more sustainable. You are way less likely to do something that you HATE on a consistent basis. Think about it — it’s simple human psychology.

Since language learning is all about consistency and commitment, why would we make the process more painful for you than it has to be (and essentially deterring you from wanting to do it)?

I designed the I Learn French group courses keeping in mind the lessons learned from my personal and professional experiences. I made these courses as if I were going to attend them myself — incorporating the elements that have worked for me in the past and eliminating the elements that didn’t work. 

But if you’re reading this, this is probably NOT the answer you were looking for. You probably want to learn and speak French in just three months — and you were probably hoping that I would say, yes no problem — easy 1, 2, 3 go! 

So here’s the caveat. I do believe, for some people, it is possible to learn French in only 3 months. And here are the questions you want to use to assess whether this is a feasible option for you: 

  • Have you ever learned a second language before? 
  • Do you know a Romance language already (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian)? 
  • Do the languages you know have the same alphabet as French? 
  • Do you have time to study every single day? 
  • Do you have clear objectives? 
  • Do you have a budget to attend a high-quality course? 

If the answer is yes to these questions, here is my advice for you: 

  • Be consistent (take zero breaks)
  • Create a real routine 
  • Understand what you study (like really understand it, like the palm of your hand)
  • Have clear goals on a weekly basis and a clear overall plan
  • Focus on the essentials 
  • Be motivated 
  • Practice with people 
  • Join an intensive course or hire a private tutor 

If you’ve checked all the above criteria, you’re set to learn and speak French in 3 months. And I wish you the best of luck!

Otherwise, if this type of intensity sounds daunting — don’t worry. You are not alone. If learning a language in 3 months was so easy, everyone would do it.

The good news is, I truly believe that anyone can learn French — but we all have different rhythms, needs, and lifestyles. I’ve designed my courses to provide a slower, more sustainable, and highly effective option so that you can integrate French into your life.

Trust me, long-term strategies are just as exciting as rapid-fire get-fluent-quick strategies. And you’ll enjoy the journey a whole lot more than being stressed out. You’ll also be a lot less likely to give up.

Regardless, whichever route you decide to take, I’m cheering you on! And I’d love to know — have you tried learning a language in a short period of time? Comment below and tell me about your experience.

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