How Long Does it Take to Learn a Language?

how long does it take to learn a language


How Long Does it Take to Learn a Language with Cactus?

Research shows that it takes anywhere between 480 hours and 2200 hours of language study and practice to reach an advanced level in a foreign language. The majority of people are not able to learn a language ‘full-time’ so if you dedicated 3 hours per week to language study this would equate to anywhere between 3 years and 14 years of language learning!

There are a huge number of variables that determine how quickly you can learn a language, such as; your native tongue, which language you are learning, if you already speak more than one language, if you are surrounded by the language you are learning, the methods you use to learn the language, and so forth.

It’s also important to define the level of proficiency when we consider the length of time it takes to learn a language. Some people will feel they ‘know’ a language, or are able to communicate adequately with a B1 level (on the Common European Framework) of the language. Others may feel that they have not ‘learnt a language’ until they have reached C2 level (on the Common European Framework) and demand native-level ability of themselves before they consider themselves fluent. Therefore the amount of time it takes to learn a language can often be relative to the level you wish to achieve.

The Typical Language Learning Journey of a Cactus Student

Cactus students often take an evening language course whilst working full-time. This usually means the time they have available to dedicate to language learning is limited. In addition, they are not learning in the country where the language is spoken (as a native language). A typical student will start with us in the Beginner 1 class (A1 on the CEFR) which is 20 hours of face-to-face time with a native speaking or bilingual teacher, and 10 hours of self-study time at home, with homework or practice on language apps. These 30 hours of language study time are spread over a 10 week period. It takes the same amount of time to cover Beginner 2 and Beginner 3. Levels Beginner 1, 2 and 3 will take 9 months in total to complete.

Once all three Beginner levels have been completed the student will be ready to move onto Elementary 1 (A2) level. On average it will take 18 months (6 courses of 10 weeks each) to reach B1 level, which is an intermediate level where the student can converse comfortably on most everyday topics with a native speaker.

How Much Language Can be Learnt in 6 Months?

Travel and Language Author and Blogger, The Intrepid Guide, has been studying Norwegian with Cactus Language for the last 6 months. She started her first evening language course in October 2018 with the Beginner 1 Norwegian course. She then went onto Beginner 2 Norwegian in January and is coming to the end of her second 10 week evening language course with Cactus.

During this time she visited Norway in December and again in March 2019. In this video she explains her language learning experience and gives an insight into how much language you can learn in 6 months.


Michele is a multilingual author and the founder of The Intrepid Guide, a hub for travellers and language learners with over 100,000 monthly readers. Follow Cactus Language and The Intrepid Guide on Instagram.

Contact Us

To find out more about learning another language, or information on any of our courses simply call us on 01273 830 960 or email us. Our multilingual team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Cactus language offers the following types of language courses:

Evening language courses: 19 different languages in 15 UK locations
Language holidays: worldwide immersion courses in the country of the language
Private tuition: tailor-made and corporate language training solutions throughout the world
TEFL: teacher training courses for both English and other languages all over the world
Online courses: for teacher training, English and French