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How Long Does It Take To Learn Spanish? Not Long!

Have you seen YouTube titles like “Oblivious White Guy Learns Spanish In 10 Days”?

If you haven’t already figured it out, these garbage YouTubers are constantly misleading the public so that we’ll click on their videos.

They don’t have the secret to learning a language in 2 weeks, they just want money.

cartoon woman saying that she learned a language in 2 weeks, and another cartoon woman thinking that she's lying

These stupid videos depress some people whenever they see little growth 2 weeks after grinding out study sessions consistently.

Nonetheless, in this article, we’ll go over the truth about how long it should take to learn Spanish, according to the Common European Frame of Reference for languages.

And I’ll also give you a study plan for if you want to learn Spanish to fluency in 1 year, or even 6 months (Those goals have very different study plans to achieve them).

¡Empecemos! (Let's start)

Summary: How Long Does It Take To Learn Spanish?

It takes about 645 hours of study to reach fluency (B2) in Spanish. You can realistically achieve this level within a year if you follow a strict study plan.

The most important skills you need to develop are your:

  • Ability to comprehend the spoken language

  • Vocabulary and ability to produce it

  • Basic grammatical understanding (mostly acquired/not studied)

  • Ability to write/spell the words you know

If you want to learn within 1 year you should study 1 hour and 45 minutes a day consistently. Your study sessions should include:

  • TPRS videos like those from Dreaming Spanish (YouTube Channel)

  • Flashcards

  • Writing exercises

  • Small conversations using apps like HelloTalk or tutors from Italki

  • Reading practice

At the bottom of this article, I have a specific time breakdown if you want to follow my approach to reaching fluency in 6 months, or 1 year. Good luck to you!

You got this!

a picture of a clock that says "How long does it take to learn spanish?"

According To The CEFR

I and many other multilingual language learners have come to the conclusion that B2 is what should be considered “Fluent”.

This means that you can speak the language spontaneously and hold conversations on diverse subjects without problems for you, or the other party.

According to the CEFR (Common European Frame of Reference for Languages), you will need about 645 hours of learning to reach a B2 level.

Although the CEFR used the phrase “class hours” I think “hours studying” is more appropriate.

So if you would like to reach fluency in 1 year, you will need to (on average) study about 1 hour and 45 minutes a day.

This may sound like a lot, but it might be your best bet. In the next sections, we’ll talk about the factors that aren’t considered in these numbers. And thereafter, the factors that will make or break your efficiency when it comes to learning the Spanish language.

a graph showing how many hours it takes to reach each level in Spanish

Factors That Aren’t considered By The CEFR

Although the CEFR gives us a basic understanding of how much time it should take to learn a language, it leaves more questions than answers.

Such as: “What is considered “class/ study time?” - “Does this fluency metric include being able to understand native speakers?” - “How big of factors are personal motivation and resources used?”

Here in this section, we’ll answer these questions and more so that you have a good understanding of what it takes to learn a language.

a list of the things that the CEFR doesn't help us with as language learners

How Long Does It Take To Be Able To Understand Native Spanish Speakers?

One thing about the CEFR is that it talks about “Class Hours” but doesn’t specify how that should look. If in class you're doing Duolingo the whole time, you definitely won't reach B2 in a year - even if you are using it 2 hours a day.

The reason why I mention this is because without hearing native speakers interact with one another (and often) you will never understand the spoken language.

I have met people that have a “fluent level” in Spanish but can’t hold even a basic conversation. This is because they learned on paper, in traditional class settings.

If your goal will be to speak with people you need at least 200 hours of listening to people speaking.

Consistency - The Most Important Thing For Your Success

Consistency is another factor that extends or shortens the time it takes to learn Spanish.

Take me for example, I learned Spanish for six months, then I studied Japanese, then Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Indonesian, French, Georgian, Catalan, etc.

I was so excited about learning languages that I neglected Spanish and I only studied for about 1 hour, 1 day a week. This did nothing good for me. Flash forward and I had been “learning Spanish for 2 years” and I had nearly the same level that I had after 6 months.

This is the power of being inconsistent. Even 15 minutes a day (consistently) is better than 2 hours every Saturday. This is because of how our brains are wired to forget.

Our brains forget in order to protect us, and if you want the best chance of learning the first 1,000 words, your brain needs to see them as often and consistently as possible.

Nowadays I treat my brain like a separate person who is in charge of the “long-term memory filing cabinet”. I know he wants to see that the information is important, so I show it to him 100 times and I say “Please file this for me, you’ll see it again tomorrow” and it generally works.

Learning One Language, Or Multiple?

So as you saw with my example, I showed you an extreme example of ideocracy (assuming my goal was to learn a language). However, you can learn multiple languages at once responsibly - in the future.

Once you have learned a second and/or third language - learning the 4th and 5th at the same time is no big deal. But even the best polyglots try to stay away from this. Remember that the number of times you see words in your target language will be a direct reflection of how quick you acquire those words.

So if you’re showing your brain two different languages, for one hour each a day, your progress will be much less than if you show your brain the same language and patterns 2 hours a day.

Amount Of Practice Speaking Spanish

Another aspect of fluency that isn’t included in the CEFR is how many hours you have spent speaking Spanish. As I said earlier - some people with High CEFR Levels couldn't hold a conversation if their lives depended on it.

That’s because their teacher taught them grammar, vocab lists, and how to speak to people who don’t speak Spanish (the class). The problem is, they haven’t gotten good at expressing themselves in real-life scenarios, and when they hear real Spanish for the first time - they will be paralyzed.

Imagine studying Spanish for 4 years, and you "know that you’re fluent..." So you go to the Dominican Republic and say to the guy at the counter of the gas station “Hola cómo estás” and he says “Qué lo que papi/mami dame la lu”.

Meaning “What’s up bud, how are you?” or if you were going to Mexico and you heard instead “Qué onda wey” meaning - “What’s up bro." This is why Speaking with natives is crucial.

This will help you learn the Spanish spoken in the real world - which is extremely diverse (and much more fun) than classroom Spanish.

Motivation To Learn Spanish

You got to get your motivation down on lock! I have struggled with this a lot as many others have. Many people suggest that you write a list of all of the potential reasons you might want to learn Spanish.

For example “Maybe I’ll marry a Spanish-speaking woman, travel through all countries in South America, live in Argentina for 3 months” Etc…

Another great source of motivation is if you know somebody that you can speak with. If you don’t know anybody in real life - do what I just did with French.

I went on to HelloTalk and found a nice person my age, who I enjoy talking to, and who doesn’t make me feel bad for sucking. You can also get a tutor at Italki for example if you don’t have much time during your week.

Resources Used To Learn Spanish

As mentioned earlier in this article, using resources like Duolingo will slow down the amount of time it takes to learn a language. On the other hand, resources such as TPRS videos on YouTube, Flashcards, and Apps like HelloTalk, Italki, and Closemaster can speed up the process.

Another great resource is Google Translate; where you can translate the phrases most commonly used in conversation and get a basic understanding of basic communication skills.

I also use Google Translate to write journal entries daily - which helps me acquire conjugations, vocabulary, and the basic ability to talk about my day. If you want to learn about my journaling technique check out this article where I go over my journaling technique and many others.

Your Language Background

Another important part of the learning process that the CEFR does not take into account is the language background of a learner. If you studied French in school for 2 years, you'll have an advantage over those who have never studied another language (especially a Latin-derived one).

What Should I Do To Get Fluent In Spanish In 1 Year?

If you want to reach fluency in 1 year you need to study on average 1 hour and 45 minutes a day. Your study sessions should include approximately:

  • 45 minutes of TPRS videos on YouTube

  • 15 minutes of reading

  • 10 minutes of writing

  • 10 minutes of Speaking (ASAP)

  • 10 minutes of Flashcards

  • 15 minutes of listening to Music and reading lyrics

The most important thing for you should be learning new vocabulary, and watching a ton of videos of people speaking (with subtitles).

What Should I Do To Get Fluent In Spanish In 6 Months?

If you want to reach fluency in Spanish after 6 months you need to study 3.5 hours a day on average. You should spend approximately:

  • 2-hours watching TPRS videos on YouTube

  • 40 minutes of reading

  • 10 minutes of writing

  • 20 minutes of Flashcards

  • 20 minutes of speaking.

The most important thing for you should be words, words, words! Don’t worry about grammar too much, don’t worry about writing too much.

It should be input, input, input. I would recommend that on top of your 3.5 hours of daily studies, you listen to Spanish every chance you get. Whether you are driving, cleaning, cooking, or even pooping - music/podcasts all day! Your goal is extremely ambitious and it requires lot's of commitment.

And as somebody who is an experienced language learner - I think it’s possible, but it won't be easy. You will have to be more consistent and focused than you (probably) have ever been.

But follow the steps listed above and you got this!

Conclusion: How long does it take to learn Spanish?

It takes about 645 hours for the average English speaker to learn Spanish. But only you and your circumstances can answer the question. If you are willing to study 3.5 hours a day, you can reach fluency in 6 months!

Remember that the most important thing of all is consistency. 30 minutes a day (every day) is better than 2-hour study sessions every Saturday, for example.

If you want the best resources to not just learn - but acquire a language check out this article I did on all of the methods I use to acquire a language.

And if you want TPRS resources I did a whole article on the subject where I give the absolute best YouTube channels and websites to find beginner stories to learn Spanish.

Good luck with your studies! Stay motivated and excited, I promise if you stick with Spanish you will fall more in love with it over time! And don't be discouraged by the 1 or 2 years that you will have to dedicate, they will fly.

Stay motivated friend,

~ Ben


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