Written by:
Jul 18, 2023

Optimizing Language Acquisition: How Long Does It Take to Learn a New Language?

Learning a new language is like opening a door to endless possibilities. It fascinates many people who dream of mastering a foreign tongue. One common question that arises when it comes to learning a new language is, "How long does it take?" This curiosity unites language enthusiasts and those aspiring to become polyglots. However, there's no simple answer because the time it takes to learn a new language depends on various factors, such as the specific language, desired proficiency level, potential concurrent learning of other languages, and motivation levels.

In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of language acquisition. We delve into the factors that influence the learning process, including motivation, immersion, proficiency levels, and learning strategies. Our aim is to provide valuable insights and practical tips to optimize your language learning experience. Whether you're just starting to learn a new language or you're an experienced learner seeking to improve your skills, this article will serve as a guide to navigate the intricate landscape of language acquisition. Join us as we unlock the secrets to expedite your language journey and embrace the beauty of speaking multiple languages.

Seven Proven Factors that Determine How Long it Takes to Learn a Foreign Language:

1. The Language Learning Curve

When it comes to learning a new language, one size does not fit all. How long it takes to learn a new language can vary significantly from person to person. Some people effortlessly learn languages like experts, while others may encounter more difficulties during their language-learning journey. The key lies in understanding the factors that influence language acquisition.

How long does it take to become fluent in a language? One important factor is your native language. Similarities or differences between your native language and the target language can affect how quickly you learn. For instance, if your native language has similar roots or grammar, you may find some aspects of the new language easier. Likewise, if your native language has a wide vocabulary or complex grammar, it can give you an advantage when learning a new language.

On the other hand, learners whose native language is vastly different from the target language may face more hurdles. Pronunciation, grammar structures, and cultural nuances can pose challenges that require additional time and effort to overcome. However, with dedication and practice, these obstacles can be surmounted.

Furthermore, individual motivation and learning strategies also play a crucial role. Someone who is highly motivated and actively immerses themselves in the language by engaging in cultural experiences, having conversations, and practicing regularly will usually make faster progress than someone who takes a passive approach to language learning.

How long it takes to learn a new language varies depending on several factors. The learner's native language, the similarities or differences between the native and target languages, and individual motivation all contribute to the language learning curve. Embracing these influences and tailoring learning strategies accordingly can help optimize the language acquisition process. Remember, language learning is a unique and personal journey, and every step taken brings you closer to the joy of fluency.

2. Motivation and Learning Environment

Motivation is crucial in determining how long it takes to learn a new language. When learners are motivated, they invest time and effort, leading to faster progress. Motivation can come from personal interest, curiosity, or external factors like career opportunities or connecting with different cultures. High motivation creates enthusiasm and perseverance, accelerating learning.

In addition to motivation, the learning environment also significantly impacts language acquisition. Immersion programs and living in a country where the target language is spoken provide unparalleled opportunities for linguistic growth. When you're around native speakers and experience the language in everyday situations, it helps you understand the subtleties, learn new words faster, and improve how you pronounce the language. Motivation and a conducive learning environment are powerful catalysts for language acquisition.

3. Language Difficulty and Similarities

Learning a new language takes time, and it's not the same for everyone. The difficulty level of a language affects how long it takes to learn. Some factors that make a language harder include complex grammar, tricky pronunciation, and a big vocabulary.

For example, how long does it take to learn French or Spanish? These languages have complex verb systems, so they may take more time and effort to master. Pronunciation can also be tough, especially if the sounds are different from your native language. So, learning a language like Korean may take longer. The size of the vocabulary matters too. Languages with lots of words, like English, can take more time to learn compared to languages with fewer words. But it's not just about the number of words, it's also about how often they're used in everyday life

On a positive note, similarities between languages can expedite the learning process. Languages that share linguistic roots, such as Spanish and Italian, often have similar vocabulary, grammar structures, and pronunciation patterns. Learners with knowledge of one of these languages may find it easier to grasp the other. The ability to recognize cognates and transfer language skills across related languages can be a significant advantage in language acquisition.

4. Study Time and Consistency

When faced with the question, “how many hours does it take to learn a new language?”, we may say that regular study sessions and constant effort have a direct influence on the time it takes to learn a new language. Just like any skill, language acquisition requires dedicated practice and a commitment to continuous improvement. Consistency allows learners to build momentum, reinforce knowledge, and gradually internalize the language.

According to the "10,000-hour rule" made famous by author Malcolm Gladwell, it generally takes about 10,000 hours of focused practice to become a master in any field. While the exact number may vary, the underlying principle holds true for language acquisition. Consistent effort and focused study over a substantial period lead to significant progress.

To effectively manage study time and maintain consistency, learners can employ various strategies. Firstly, setting specific goals helps provide direction and motivation. Setting clear goals helps learners stay on track, whether it's mastering a specific number of vocabulary words every week or practicing conversation for a certain amount of time each day.

Creating a study schedule and sticking to it is crucial. Consistency is more effective when study sessions become a regular part of daily or weekly routines. It's better to study for shorter periods daily than to cram extensive sessions irregularly.

Additionally, incorporating diverse learning activities keeps study sessions engaging and effective. This could involve a combination of textbook exercises, listening to podcasts, watching movies or shows in the target language, and participating in language exchange programs.

Lastly, seeking accountability and support can enhance consistency. Joining language learning communities, finding study partners, or working with a tutor or language coach can provide guidance, feedback, and a sense of accountability.

5. Learning Strategies and Resources

Language acquisition is a dynamic process that requires a diverse range of learning strategies to maximize effectiveness. By employing a combination of techniques, learners can enhance their language skills and make the time it takes to learn a new language shorter.

Speaking practice is a fundamental aspect of language learning. Engaging in conversations, whether through language exchange programs, online platforms, or with native speakers, allows learners to apply their knowledge in real-life scenarios. Speaking practice not only improves fluency but also enhances pronunciation and communication skills.

Listening exercises are invaluable for developing comprehension and improving pronunciation. By regularly exposing oneself to native speakers through podcasts, audiobooks, music, or TV shows in the target language, learners can train their ears to recognize different accents, tones, and speech patterns.

Reading comprehension is another vital skill to develop. Reading books, articles, and news in the target language exposes learners to new vocabulary, sentence structures, and cultural insights. It enhances grammar understanding, expands vocabulary, and cultivates a deeper appreciation for the language.

Writing practice allows learners to solidify their grasp of grammar, vocabulary, and sentence construction. Regularly writing short essays, and journal entries, or participating in online language forums sharpens written communication skills and fosters accuracy and clarity.

In addition to employing various learning strategies, leveraging language learning resources can significantly improve the time it takes to learn a new language. Mobile apps like Drops provide interactive lessons, vocabulary drills, and gamified experiences. Language exchange programs connect learners with native speakers for conversation practice and cultural exchange. Tutors or language coaches offer personalized guidance and feedback tailored to individual learning needs.

To improve how long it takes to learn a new language, it's important to use various learning strategies and available resources. By including activities like speaking practice, listening exercises, reading comprehension, and writing practice in your routine, you can develop all-around language skills.

Using language learning apps like Drops, online courses, language exchange programs, and tutors can also enhance your learning experience. Remember, the key is to embrace a variety of techniques and resources that suit your learning style and goals. This will help you make faster progress and achieve fluency in the language you're learning.

6. Individual Learning Styles

Recognizing and understanding individual learning styles is essential to shortening the time it takes to learn a new language. Each person has a unique way of processing information and acquiring new skills, and this influences their approach to learning a language.

There are three common learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Auditory learners learn best by listening and speaking. They benefit from conversational practice, listening to podcasts or recordings, and joining language exchange programs. Visual learners excel with visual materials. They do well with written texts, diagrams, and flashcards. Visual learners can enhance their language learning by using subtitles while watching foreign films or creating visual mind maps for vocabulary and grammar. Kinesthetic learners prefer hands-on learning. They learn by physically engaging with the language, like through role-playing, language games, or incorporating movement into their study routine.

Aligning learning activities with preferred styles can boost language learning outcomes. By understanding their learning style, learners can tailor their study methods accordingly. For instance, an auditory learner may focus on listening exercises and engaging in conversations, while a visual learner may prioritize reading and using visual aids.

Research has shown that matching learning activities to individual learning styles can enhance memory retention, motivation, and overall learning experience. Success stories abound, with individuals sharing how identifying and catering to their learning style helped them achieve remarkable progress in language acquisition.

Recognizing individual learning styles is crucial for effective language learning. By aligning learning activities with auditory, visual, or kinesthetic preferences, learners can optimize their language acquisition journey. Remember, understanding how you learn best empowers you to create a tailored study plan that leverages your strengths and accelerates the time it takes to learn a new language.

7. Prior Language Learning Experience

Previous language learning experience can have a significant impact on the time it takes to learn a new language. The skills and knowledge gained from previous language-learning endeavors can be transferable and provide a solid foundation for learning additional languages.

When learners have prior experience learning a language, they become familiar with language learning techniques, study strategies, and the overall process of acquiring a new language. They develop skills such as effective vocabulary acquisition, grammar comprehension, and language structure analysis. These skills are transferable and can be applied when learning a new language, expediting the learning process.

Moreover, learners gain a deeper understanding of language learning itself. They become aware of their own learning style and preferences, allowing them to tailor their study methods to suit their individual needs. They also gain resilience and perseverance, as they have encountered and overcome challenges in their previous language learning experiences.

Prior language learning experience also facilitates the acquisition of subsequent languages by establishing a foundation of linguistic knowledge. Many languages share commonalities in terms of vocabulary, grammar structures, and cultural influences. Learners who have studied languages from the same language family or with similar characteristics can leverage their existing knowledge to comprehend and internalize new concepts more efficiently.

For example, someone who has previously learned French may find it easier to grasp Spanish due to the similarities in vocabulary and grammatical structures. The prior experience with French can serve as a stepping stone, allowing the learner to make connections and draw upon their existing linguistic knowledge.

Prior language learning experience can significantly impact the time needed to learn a new language. The transferable skills, knowledge, and understanding gained from previous language learning endeavors provide learners with a head start and expedite the acquisition of subsequent languages. Embracing the advantages of prior language learning experience empowers learners to embark on new language journeys with confidence and efficiency.

How Drops can help to make your language learning process faster

Language Drops is a mobile and web application that can significantly contribute to making the language learning process faster and more efficient. Our innovative platform offers a range of features designed to optimize language acquisition and enhance the overall learning experience.

One key aspect of Drops is its focus on vocabulary acquisition. Our app provides carefully curated term lists that are relevant and practical for real-life situations. By focusing on high-frequency words and phrases, Drops ensures that learners can quickly build a foundation of essential vocabulary. Additionally, we incorporate engaging visuals and interactive exercises to aid in memorization and retention.

Another notable feature of Drops is its emphasis on microlearning. Our app offers short and engaging language learning sessions that can be completed in just a few minutes. This approach is ideal for individuals with busy schedules or those who prefer to learn in bite-sized chunks. By consistently dedicating small pockets of time to language learning throughout the day, learners can make steady progress without feeling overwhelmed.

Furthermore, Drops incorporates elements of gamification into its platform. With its intuitive and visually appealing interface, our app transforms language learning into an enjoyable and addictive experience. Learners can conquer challenges, unlock new content, and track their progress, creating a sense of achievement and motivation.

Drops also offers a wide range of language options, allowing learners to choose from over 45 languages. This versatility makes it a valuable tool for learners interested in multiple languages or those seeking to study less commonly-taught languages.

Drops is a powerful tool that can expedite the language learning process on mobile and web platforms. Our focus on vocabulary acquisition, microlearning approach, gamified interface, and language variety contribute to an efficient and engaging learning experience. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced learner, Drops can be an invaluable resource in your language-learning journey!


When faced with the question “how long does it take to learn a new language?”, we should be aware that learning time is influenced by many factors, such as motivation, learning environment, language difficulty, individual learning styles, prior language learning experience, and more. It's important to understand that language learning is unique and personal to each individual, so there is no set timeline for becoming fluent.

Rather than focusing solely on the end goal, we should embrace the language learning process itself. Enjoy the small victories, the moments of clarity when a new word clicks, and the connections we make with others through language. Language learning is an enriching experience that expands our horizons and opens doors to new cultures and perspectives.

As you continue on your language learning journey, take the next steps with enthusiasm. Set realistic goals, create a supportive learning environment, and explore diverse learning strategies that align with your preferences. Seek out language exchange opportunities, practice speaking, listen to native speakers, read, and write regularly.

To make your language learning faster, you can try using language learning apps like Drops. Drops offers an interactive and engaging platform where you can learn vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and strengthen your language skills. Our app has a fun and easy-to-use interface, making it a valuable tool for your language-learning journey.

Whether you're starting fresh or building on past language learning, remember that each step you take brings you closer to becoming proficient in the language.

Embrace the journey, savor the moments of progress, and immerse yourself in the beauty of language. The world of languages awaits you—go forth and explore!

Javier Gil is our Language Content Manager. He loves linguistics, reading, skincare, 90s music, and Zumba. He currently lives in Spain.

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