How long does it take to learn Spanish? (Much faster than you expect)

May 6, 2021

Today, in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, we are very aware of the importance of languages.

Knowing languages is vital in the age of the Internet and globalization in order not to be left behind in communication. There are very notable barriers, both intellectual and cultural, that show a lack of knowledge of a second language. As an Spanish academy that teaches the third most spoken language on the planet, we want to highlight certain aspects or data of the importance of how long it takes to master Spanish language.

How long does it take to learn any language? How long does it take to learn Spanish? Some people may have attempted to learn Spanish for years and still feel they have not progressed. Some say they learned the language in a month using some creative and innovative techniques. What should you bear in mind before learning Spanish? That’s difficult to say, there is no simple answer. It all depends on many factors, we highlight the three most important ones:

  • Motivation: Why do you want to learn Spanish?
  • Your mother tongue 
  • Time, Effort and Money. 

Let’s analyze one by one so as to help your Spanish goal!

  • Motivation

Knowing languages is vital in the age of the Internet and globalization in order not to be left behind in communication. 

What drives you to learn Spanish? Why Spanish?

There are lots of reasons why Spanish is the second most popular language to study in the world (behind only English).You might think that the main reasons are moving to a Spanish speaking country, getting a job or getting a promotion in the organization chart in your company. Of course, these are powerful motives to push the boundaries of your scope in terms of communication with other people, however, we invite you to love the learning process, the language itself and everything that spins around it (culture, gastronomy, arts and so on). Learning a new language, Spanish, will boost your curiosity and interest in widening your horizons, in the end, to enrich your life.

We recommend you to go public. It means, we encourage you to shout that you are learning Spanish from the rooftops (in Spanish we say: gritar a los cuatro vientos). Don’t be shy and publicize your enthusiasm and commitment to master another language that will empower you to communicate worldwide with more than 580 million people. Making it public makes you far less likely to throw in the towel. Apart from sharing your Spanish goal with your relatives and friends, you can do it as well on social networks such as LinkedIn or XING.

how long does it take to learn spanish

Everybody feels comfortable in the comfort zone (forgive the repetition), in other words, to get out of that feeling of relaxation where you are warm with no pain is always a bit difficult and somewhat thorny. Therefore, make sure you don’t feel disheartened when learning Spanish and enjoy learning it instead. You might’ve tried learning Spanish in the past, following methods and techniques that don’t suit you. The point is to focus on your progress and find the motivation that drives you to learn Spanish instead of struggling with yourself. You’re more likely to be effective and remain inspired. There is a general consensus among linguist researchers and scholars about the fact that a motivated student can achieve whatever they want in terms of mastering a language. In no time, with the proper motivation, you can achieve a good level of Spanish, at least an intermediate level. Enough to get by, to make yourself understood and come across clearly. In summary, if you are excited about the challenge of learning Spanish you will overcome everything. Motivation multiples the speed with which you progress in your learning of Spanish and shorten the time exponentially.

Remember: There are many parts of our brains involved in language learning. Not only does your emotional dedication to a new language influence how hard you study, but it also influences your learning effectiveness. So, if I were you I would ask myself: How much does learning Spanish appeal to you? Do you like Spanish movies or TV programs or music? Do you like anything about the history or the culture of Spanish-speaking countries? Do you have friends who speak Spanish? Do you have a Spanish-speaking favourite singer or movie star? Do you like how Spanish language sounds?  Do you like traveling to Spanish speaking countries? The more affirmative answers, the faster you will learn and improve your Spanish. There are many parts of our brains involved in language learning. Not only does your emotional dedication to a new language influence how hard you study, but it also influences your learning effectiveness.

Your mother tongue

Remember: There are many parts of our brains involved in language learning. Not only does your emotional dedication to a new language influence how hard you study, but it also influences your learning effectiveness.

It could be tricky at first to learn Spanish as someone whose native language is radically different from any Romance language. If you already speak English you are lucky since learning is Spanish is one of the easiest.  Spanish shares the same alphabet as English. Another advantage is that the phonetic language (words are written the way they sound, i.e. Words are generally pronounced the way they are spelled, making it easy to pronounce while reading.), besides there’s lots of similar vocabulary. Many terms are indeed “true” friends, or cognates however watch out for some false friends (words that have lexical similarities but different meanings).

There are a number of government departments that have also evaluated how much time it takes to learn Spanish. The most widespread opinion comes from the U.S. Institute For Foreign Services (FSI). It states that it takes 600 classroom/Spanish academy hours (if you spend 3 hours per day learning Spanish, you’ll achieve fluency in roughly 6 months) to achieve conversational fluency in Spanish. In addition, they propose an average 1:1 ratio between time spent in the classroom and time spent independently studying (which is vital and unfortunately most people skip this part). If you speak French, Italian or Portuguese, divide the time spent studying by two according to some experts. However if your mother tongue uses other alphabet and/or is very far from Romance languages, it takes 1,5 times more to achieve your goal. The Romance languages are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European language family. The five most widely spoken Romance languages by number of native speakers are Spanish (480 million), Portuguese (255 million), French (77 million), Italian (65 million), and Romanian (24 million).

  • Time, effort and money

How much time, money and effort are you willing to put into learning Spanish?

The effort and time spent on your study is a crucial factor that will answer “how long it takes to learn Spanish”. Nothing will prevent you from learning Spanish in a matter of months if you’re studying thoroughly for a few hours each day. The point is that maybe you don’t have that much time to focus on your studies. Most of us will undergo quite intensive courses, sometimes being on and off when we lose focus and lose track.

At Hispanissimo, we suggest dedicating 3 hours a week to independent-study (at our Web Campus) along with ,at least, two private live lessons per week (30 mins each), totaling 4 hours per week. You’ll be able to speak Spanish with a native teacher who corrects you in real time and encourages you along the way. This is so incredibly important for achieving fluency. This level of dedication will allow the average learner to typically complete one whole level within 5-6 months. Unlike taking part in a group class, you’re participating in 1-on-1 conversation practice, you’re probably going to get 30 minutes of every hour of talking. In class with more students, you can hide in the back and passively listen to a lecture. Large group classes are a very inefficient way to learn a language. However, at Hispanissimo you are actively learning all the time when it’s just you and your Spanish teacher.

The other factor is what resources in terms of money you are planning to use. In this matter you have several options. For free you can join language exchange groups or Meetups (online or in person). On the downside, most of times,  it is not very effective since being a native speaker doesn’t mean anything. In other words, just for the mere fact that a person is a native speaker in their mother tongue, don’t entitle (or empower) them to be as professional as a Spanish teacher. To be native has got nothing to do with being able to teach your mother tongue. For that reason, being in an exchange is alright, but don’t expect that the language you are learning is going to be uploaded to your brains in a matter like in the movie Matrix. Another cheap alternative is to resort to Spanish Apps, textbooks, watching TV/movies/documentary, radio (podcasts) or audio course. However, these learning methods only help you work on grammar, vocabulary or listening skills. The thing is, very few of them teach you how to speak Spanish. The best way to learn Spanish is about more than just studying. Bear in mind that practice makes perfect, so you need the help of a teacher who helps you to learn and to keep improving your Spanish.

Private lessons are expensive but it does make a difference. You are going to spend quality time with your teacher on a regular basis. The simple truth is this: what’s really going to make a significant difference in how long it takes you to speak Spanish is the amount of time you spend on using it (with the constant feedback of your teacher). If you want to go ahead with a teacher it is fine, and just with exchanges or meetings, you will need lots of quality conversation practice. Also, it will take a lot of self-discipline and you will have to be a driven istudent. All in all, it goes without saying that it will take a lot more time than if you were learning with a teacher.

The best way to learn Spanish is about more than just studying. Bear in mind that practice makes perfect, so you need the help of a teacher who helps you to learn and to keep improving your Spanish.

The recommendation is to have a private Spanish teacher who guides you through a fully comprehensive and well-structured syllabus according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, often referred to as CEFR or CEFRL. It is an international standard for working out your ability within a language. It was established by the Council of Europe and aims to validate language ability. At Hispanissimo, you get unlimited access to our interactive online Web Campus at anytime and anywhere with the help of your personal tutor. Your personal teacher will give you feedback on your Spanish progress (listening, writing, reading and speaking) via our multimedia and interactive platform. Our course is made up of 135 units; organised in 5 levels; A1(Beginner), B1, B2, and C1 (Advanced). As you increase your levels, (B1,B2,C1) it might be necessary to allow yourself a bit more time to complete each level (maybe 8-10 months). However, this is very much dependent on each learner personally and it is exactly why Hispanissimo is the perfect way to learn! Your learning pace and objectives are yours to create and achieve. The more time you dedicate to your studying, the sooner you will be speaking with ease! We know we don’t really need to say this; learning Spanish demands time and great effort. But the payoff is quickly seen when you start speaking, dreaming, joking and texting new friends in Spanish!

To sum up, how long does it take to learn Spanish?

Your attitude towards Spanish will impact your language learning progress in Spanish. Your self-assurance to succeed and your commitment to keep going with it will rely to a great extent upon whether you can imagine yourself accomplishing fluency, even before you achieve it. As stated above in this article, this is not Matrix (the movie), to speak Spanish won’t happen overnight, but at Hispanissimo, it won’t take as long as you think.

Learning Spanish is not race, what really matters is the joy of learning a new language and the achievement of the results you desire. Enthusiasm is a vital ingredient in your endeavors to speak Spanish. There is something for sure, the hours you invest in learning Spanish will be worth it and the end result will be a skill that will lead you to unexpected opportunities. At Hispanissimo, not only you willl learn Spanish, in a flexible method adapted to your schedule and goals but also you will have tons of fun.

Get the ball rolling and meet our dedicated and certified teachers and start learning and speaking at our Spanish Digital Academy: Hispanissimo. Try us for FREE!


Written by: Hugo Moreno

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