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1000 Hours to Learn a Language December 3, 2015

Posted by anagasto in language.
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It takes about as long as to get a Bachelor’s degree and is about as difficult.
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Conditions?

A lot depends on your inclinations, your age, your ways of doing things.
Contrary to legend, intelligence is not helpful in language learning.
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Purpose?

But what do you mean by a good command of French or English or German?

Do you mean passing an exam?
Are you trying for a job where “fluency” is required ?
Would you just like to be able to converse ?

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Bilingual?

In your own language there are dozens of exclamations, sighs, proverbs, word plays, advertising jingles, intonations, brand names, baby talk, newspeak, abbreviations, local expressions, professional terms, ironies.

Most of this will probably never reach your second language and so you won’t feel  at home in it.

In your own language you speak automatically straight from a chip. Your language is so perfectly automated that you can (for instance) speak on the phone about the weather while thinking of the pizza in the oven or whether you left the car in the wrong place.

This kind of automatism is not normally available in more than one language.

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The facts

To learn a language is similar to learning  an instrument :

To get some very basic skills you might only need some 100 hours of active practice.
To reach the fluency required by industry you might need 800 or 1000 hours or more.

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However,

mostly it is enough to get a little phrase list:

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and there are great phrase lists at Wikipedia:

French: http://wikitravel.org/en/French_phrasebook

Italian: http://wikitravel.org/en/Italian_phrasebook

German: http://wikitravel.org/en/German_phrasebook

Spanish: http://wikitravel.org/en/Spanish_phrasebook

Russian: http://wikitravel.org/en/Russian_phrasebook

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Photos courtesy ghD. — The drawing of the little computer geek is from a Gary Olsen cartoon, and the Trim boy is by Raphael Wünsch.  —

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