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How long does it take to become fluent in a new language?

Chat in foreign languages or discuss language-learning.

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Jackal
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Location: Hungary

Post by Jackal » August 8th, 2011, 1:11 pm

Think Different wrote: I've posted about this before in the past.
Yes, we did discuss this before. People are right: the search function does suck here on this site! It took me a little while to pull up the old thread about Slavic languages.
viewtopic.php?p=22417&highlight=slavic#22417




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Think Different
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Post by Think Different » August 8th, 2011, 2:50 pm

I was reading more about the "easiest languages" for an English speaker to learn. They appear to be:

Afrikaans
Frisian
Dutch
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Italian/French/Spanish/Romanian
etc.

I've heard Indonesian and Malay are easy but I have zero knowledge or experience with them.

Anyone else have comparative knowledge of the "easiest languages" for an English speaker to learn? If you REALLY wanted to get picky you could call Ebonics or Tok Inglish or some of the other forms of "pidgin English" foreign languages, but I'd consider them dialects.

And yes, I'm a bit of a language nerd. One of my hobbies is linguistic archaeology.

E_Irizarry
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Post by E_Irizarry » August 8th, 2011, 3:52 pm

@Think Different,

Nothing wrong with being a linguistic nerd.
"I appreciate the opportunities I have in America. Opportunities that allow me to live abroad." **Smiles** - Have2Fly@H.A. (2013)

"The only way to overcome that is to go abroad to get a broad."
- E. Irizarry (2009)

"MGTOW resilience is the key to foreign residence. You better muthafuckin' ask somebody!!"
- E. Irizarry (2012)

"I rather be ostracized by 157.0 million (27.3% of the US of Gay pop), then to appease 1 feminist." - E. Irizarry (2013)

TanBoy by DNA | Despedido, Hugo Chavez...Descansa en paz!

Jackal
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Posts: 1229
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Location: Hungary

Post by Jackal » August 8th, 2011, 4:42 pm

When you consider the ratio of easiness to usefulness, I think that any romance languages wins, hands down. If you just want to be able to talk to tons of people, then look at this list:

List of languages by total number of speakers (not just people who speak them as their first languages)
1. Mandarin Chinese (845 million)
2. Spanish (329 million)
3. English (328 million)
4. Arabic (221 million)
5. Hindi (182 million)
6. Bengali (181 million)
7. Portuguese (178 million)
8. Russian (144 million)
9. Japanese (122 Million)
10. German (90.3 million)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_la ... f_speakers

Somehow I think that Hindi would be a lot easier than Arabic. I think Hindi is much easier to pronounce approximately correctly.
E_Irizarry wrote:@Think Different,

Nothing wrong with being a linguistic nerd.
Damn right! Especially when your main interest is living ABROAD!

Jackal
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Post by Jackal » August 8th, 2011, 4:57 pm

I also want to add something about learning less widely spoken languages.

The downside of learning such a language is obvious: If you eventually decide to go somewhere else, then you might feel that your time studying that language was wasted (although I think it's less of a waste if it was the first language that you learned to speak really well. Then at least it gave you the confidence that you can learn any other foreign language just as well, and confidence is golden!).

What is much less talked about is the advantage of learning such a language. In my view, the main advantage is that once you learn a language that few foreigners ever learn, then that allows you to have whole areas of the country just to yourself where you don't have to compete with other foreign men.

Hungarian is my beautiful guard dog which keeps most annoying Anglo-Americans far away from me. It breaks their spirits and then sends them back home. There are few things which Anglo-Americans hate more than difficult languages.

It's like Han Solo flying into the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back. He says, "Well, they'd be crazy to follow us!"

well-informed
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Post by well-informed » August 8th, 2011, 9:29 pm

You are so right Jackal.

It just goes to show that if you want something worthwhile, you better work your ass off to enjoy the advantages. Believe me i cringe just looking at the cyrillic alphabet :D

LarryLaffer
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Thanks for the information!

Post by LarryLaffer » August 9th, 2011, 12:45 am

Thank you all very much for your suggestions. I'm pleasantly surprised at how fast some of you have been able to learn languages overseas. My initial guess was that it would take like a decade to become fluent in a foreign language. Some of you have done it in less than a year.


@E_Irizarry

E_Irizarry wrote: Call me a grouch, but I feel that you need to earn your answers by being a real contributor to this forum.

I just put another dude on blast yesterday about trying to bum off of us for information.

I'm tired of this pokerface shit you assholes come on here with. Like really.
What do you mean? I have contributed. During the same login session I posted 11 other posts including:

Suggestions I offered to improve the forum

viewtopic.php?p=48188&highlight=#48188

Advice I offered:

Free - Poll: Philippines or Ukraine?
viewtopic.php?p=48177&highlight=#48177

jaymcgoff - Best country for very short guys?
viewtopic.php?p=48180&highlight=#48180

CheezeRaider - Where to go???
viewtopic.php?p=48176&highlight=#48176

Winston - Why I'm tired of living in Angeles City, where to move to?
viewtopic.php?p=48173&highlight=#48173

Humor I contributed

The Onion makes fun of Hillary Clinton
viewtopic.php?p=48190&highlight=#48190

The Onion makes fun of women who tan too much
viewtopic.php?p=48172&highlight=#48172

How Casey Anthony should have been tried
viewtopic.php?p=48171&highlight=#48171


@well-informed

well-informed wrote: Can't tell if he's spamming the forum or have sincere intentions
I do have sincere intentions. I read Winstons personal story and was very inspired by it.
I have some doubts as to if it will work for me but I'm hoping I'll have more luck overseas.
well-informed wrote: Believe me i cringe just looking at the cyrillic alphabet
Same here. When I see those wierd symbols it SCARES the crap out of me.


@odbo

odbo wrote: It's a pretty dumb reason to go to South America instead of Europe because you were too lazy to study.
It makes a difference if it takes one year or ten years to become fluent. I'm 41 so if it takes 10 years then
I'd be in my fifties before I could effectively communicate with the local populace. That would make it much
harder to find a wife.


@DaRick

DaRick wrote: The ease of learning a language also depends on how old you are. It is easier when you are younger.
Would learning it at 41 be twice as difficult as it was in high school? Three times? Any guesses?
DaRick wrote: You may be able to get by well with English and German in Eastern Europe and maybe know
just enough of the local language to get by without being particularly fluent.
Well, personally I want to know the language well when I'm in the country I choose.
I'd be pretty scared living somewhere when I didn't know what other people were saying.


@Think Different

Think Different wrote:
For someone who doesn't know anything about languages,
and still wants to go to Eastern Europe, try Slovio instead (http://www.slovio.com).

By comparison, Spanish is rated by the US State Dept. as one of the world's EASIEST languages
for an American to learn. There is no real EASY language or HARD language. It's all a matter
of perspective of the speaker's native language and how close the language being learned is
linguistically to their native tongue . A Russian will find Bulgarian VERY easy, but English
harder. An Italian would find English hard, but Spanish super easy. A Finn would find
Estonian super easy, but Polish difficult. Got it?
Thank you for the valuable information Think Different!
Someone else had told me all of Eastern Europe used Cyrillic characters. Guess they were wrong.

You put:
Bulgaria as moderately difficult and
Latvia as difficult.
Is moderately difficult more or less difficult than difficult?


@ladislav

ladislav wrote: I was studying Spanish 2 hours a day and it took me 8 months to get to university level
and then another 2-3 months to speak conversational Spanish fluently.
That is great news! Less than a year to become fluent in Spanish.
ladislav wrote: I guess Russian would take you some 12-15 months to be fluent in.
Really? With all the backwards R's and strange Cyrillic characters?
Could a person really read Russian books and understand people in only 12-15 months
or did you mean a more basic understanding?


@momopi

momopi wrote: The US Department of State, Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has compiled a list of 63 languages into 3 categories for length of instruction. CAT I = 6 months, CAT II = 1 year, and CAT III = 2 years:

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikibooks: ... h_Speakers
Thank you for the very useful link. We should add that to the FAQ page.
So Spanish is 600 hours and most of Eastern Europe is 1100 hours.
Almost twice as long to become fluent in Eastern Europe.
Four times as long in Eastern Asia.


@Jackal

Jackal wrote: Hungarian has lots of case endings for nouns, its word order is often the exact
opposite than it is in English, it has postpositions instead of prepositions,
it has two different conjugations for transitive verbs in each tense
(which is twice the work), and it has several vowels and consonants which we
don't have in English. Put it all together, and it's
like trying to play chess while riding a motorcycle!
Then why did you move there?
To torture yourself?
Or are the women really, really hot and therefore worth it?
Jackal wrote: Although I've been in Hungary for 3 years, I am not yet fluent in Hungarian because my job teaching English is a constant distraction, because only a few mediocre resources are available in English about Hungarian, and because I've just been studying it on and off. However, I can now understand most of what people say to me. But I'm still pretty slow replying. I know almost all the grammar, I just need to learn more vocab (I think I approached things backwards and I would recommend emphasizing vocab over grammar from the beginning).

But I would say that it's possible to become fluent in Hungarian in 2 or 3 years if you are in an ideal environment, you work hard at it, and you have excellent teachers from the beginning. The less ideal your situation and the less hard you work, the longer it will take.
Well that isn't that bad. If an extremely difficult language like Hungarian can be learned to the level where you understand most of what people are saying in only three years then the situation isn't as bad as I thought. I initally thought I would have to live in East Europe for like 10 years before I could effectively communicate. That is why I was looking at the easier Spanish countries even though women in South America aren't nearly as hot.

Are you very good with languages? Are you a fast learner or an average learner?
Jackal wrote: Yes, if you're not attached to any particular country, then this is logical.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mo ... untries%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_la ... e_speakers
Another useful link we should add to the FAQ page.
Jackal wrote: What is much less talked about is the advantage of learning such a language. In my view, the main advantage is that once you learn a language that few foreigners ever learn, then that allows you to have whole areas of the country just to yourself where you don't have to compete with other foreign men.
Good point. The less competition overseas, the bigger the advantage.


@onezero4u

onezero4u wrote: an advantage to spanish besides being relatively easy for native english speakers is that its a passport to around 20 countries which use it as their official language. more bang for your buck so to speak.
Yes, that is true. However, how many of those countries have attractive women? I'm mostly just attracted to Caucasian women. It seems like the only 4 Spanish speaking countries with Caucasian women are
Spain, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay
and they are somewhat darker and less attractive than the East European beauties. Are there any other Caucasian Spanish Speaking countries?

ladislav
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Post by ladislav » August 9th, 2011, 2:30 am

In Asia learning to speak the local language may be a two edged sword. Many local women want to meet a Westerner for the cultural experience and a future exciting international relationship/ marriage and to eventually move with her husband to the rich and prosperous ( or just beautiful green and uncrowded) West. This is why many of them will approach you or be picked up by you. You are the taste of exoticism and a better life from far far away. Oh, and you look like Paul McCartney, too. 99.999% of Western guys in Asia get girlfriends based on that.

When you end up speaking the language, and speaking it well, it becomes a plus with some mainstream women who do not think of emigrating or who do not feel attracted to you because you are a foreigner but they will love you more for you. But then, often, they will expect you to adjust to the local culture and since you can never become 100 percent native, you might now have problems being treated as a colonial subject of sorts, an illegal alien, a stepson or just a freak. Versus being treated as a guest of honor ( which is what most Asians prefer to treat Westerners as, everything else often freaks them out as they do not know how to behave around an Asian speaking white or black face) There are various scenarios but these seem to be the main versions of possible reality.

I had that problem in Asia and still do. Whereas those guys who do not learn the language, walk around with a spring in their step with their head held high and almost always have an Asian girl in tow warbling to them in English. But I still think that it is better to speak an Asian language than not to. At least you are not living an illusion and are loved or hated based on what you really are.

As far as learning Cyrillic, just to remind you that it was artificially designed by Byzantine monks so that they could give new Slavic converts a way to read and write, an easy one, not as hard as Greek, that is. So, it is not as convoluted as say, Ethiopian letters or Arabic or Greek itself. It is Hellenic based ( but so is the Roman alphabet). The reverse Rs are not Rs. They are " Ya" s. The reverse N is not an N, it is an I. At that time, Slavs were really barbaric and pagan and if they could easily learn it, why not you?
Outside of a few characters like that, everything is really Greek based, so think of it as learning to read fraternity names/acronyms on campus. And half the letters will be the same as in the Latin alphabet.
Last edited by ladislav on August 9th, 2011, 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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E_Irizarry
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Post by E_Irizarry » August 9th, 2011, 2:34 am

@Larry Laffer,

I have rendered an apology earlier in this thread; please go ahead, seek it, and read it.

Another note: The only way you can become fluent in Spanish in less than a year is knowing another Romance language already.

If you are coming from the background of a bastardized, melting pot idiom like English, it will definitely take more than a year to become fluent in Spanish.

The Spanish language has over 4,500 words and multizonal dialect - so no way you have become fluent in Spanish in less than a year.

Can one be pretty good in less than a year? For sure.

Can one be fluent in less than a year (if they don't already have a Romance-language background)? No way.

Not even when Latinos were 2-3 years old that they were FLUENT en español.
"I appreciate the opportunities I have in America. Opportunities that allow me to live abroad." **Smiles** - Have2Fly@H.A. (2013)

"The only way to overcome that is to go abroad to get a broad."
- E. Irizarry (2009)

"MGTOW resilience is the key to foreign residence. You better muthafuckin' ask somebody!!"
- E. Irizarry (2012)

"I rather be ostracized by 157.0 million (27.3% of the US of Gay pop), then to appease 1 feminist." - E. Irizarry (2013)

TanBoy by DNA | Despedido, Hugo Chavez...Descansa en paz!

skateboardstephen
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Post by skateboardstephen » May 26th, 2012, 8:21 am

E_Irizarry wrote:@Larry Laffer,

I have rendered an apology earlier in this thread; please go ahead, seek it, and read it.

Another note: The only way you can become fluent in Spanish in less than a year is knowing another Romance language already.

If you are coming from the background of a bastardized, melting pot idiom like English, it will definitely take more than a year to become fluent in Spanish.

The Spanish language has over 4,500 words and multizonal dialect - so no way you have become fluent in Spanish in less than a year.

Can one be pretty good in less than a year? For sure.

Can one be fluent in less than a year (if they don't already have a Romance-language background)? No way.

Not even when Latinos were 2-3 years old that they were FLUENT en español.


yeah the dialects in spanish is what takes a while to get the hang of.I considered my self fluent in spanish after a year and a half but it took me three years of speaking to understand puerto rican spanish.puerto rican spanish is the hardest spanish to understand in my opinion especially when your are talking to puerto ricans born in the states you can't really understand them unless you spend a lot of time around them.It only took me a year to be fluent in portuguese.
se eu soubesse o que eu sei hoje, teria mando mulheres americanas para foder-se há muitos anos.que deus abençoe o brasil!

E_Irizarry
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Post by E_Irizarry » May 27th, 2012, 9:58 pm

skateboardstephen wrote:
E_Irizarry wrote:@Larry Laffer,

I have rendered an apology earlier in this thread; please go ahead, seek it, and read it.

Another note: The only way you can become fluent in Spanish in less than a year is knowing another Romance language already.

If you are coming from the background of a bastardized, melting pot idiom like English, it will definitely take more than a year to become fluent in Spanish.

The Spanish language has over 4,500 words and multizonal dialect - so no way you have become fluent in Spanish in less than a year.

Can one be pretty good in less than a year? For sure.

Can one be fluent in less than a year (if they don't already have a Romance-language background)? No way.

Not even when Latinos were 2-3 years old that they were FLUENT en español.


yeah the dialects in spanish is what takes a while to get the hang of.I considered my self fluent in spanish after a year and a half but it took me three years of speaking to understand puerto rican spanish.puerto rican spanish is the hardest spanish to understand in my opinion especially when your are talking to puerto ricans born in the states you can't really understand them unless you spend a lot of time around them.It only took me a year to be fluent in portuguese.
¡¡¡Bem vindo, meu verdadeiro mermão!!!! O que ha de novo mermao??

Yeah Brazilian Porto (if spent four or so hours mercilessly studying for six months with a decent intermediate and up level in Spanish) is a cakewalk in six to nine months!!

Learning how to pronounce the syllab's, not perfect but decent enough grammar that even dummies of that language don't go "Kkkkkkkk" on ya ever sentence, how to count and order food, you're good to go for "auto-suficiência". LMAO
"I appreciate the opportunities I have in America. Opportunities that allow me to live abroad." **Smiles** - Have2Fly@H.A. (2013)

"The only way to overcome that is to go abroad to get a broad."
- E. Irizarry (2009)

"MGTOW resilience is the key to foreign residence. You better muthafuckin' ask somebody!!"
- E. Irizarry (2012)

"I rather be ostracized by 157.0 million (27.3% of the US of Gay pop), then to appease 1 feminist." - E. Irizarry (2013)

TanBoy by DNA | Despedido, Hugo Chavez...Descansa en paz!

Contrarian Expatriate
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Post by Contrarian Expatriate » May 27th, 2012, 10:09 pm

Jackal wrote:When you consider the ratio of easiness to usefulness, I think that any romance languages wins, hands down. If you just want to be able to talk to tons of people, then look at this list:

List of languages by total number of speakers (not just people who speak them as their first languages)
1. Mandarin Chinese (845 million)
2. Spanish (329 million)
3. English (328 million)
4. Arabic (221 million)
5. Hindi (182 million)
6. Bengali (181 million)
7. Portuguese (178 million)
8. Russian (144 million)
9. Japanese (122 Million)
10. German (90.3 million)
How in the world can French not be on that list? French is spoken in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxemburg, West Africa, Canada, Vietnam, several French Antilles Islands, Haiti, and several other places. Surely way more people speak French than German, Portuguese and Japanese!

Falcon
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Post by Falcon » May 30th, 2012, 8:01 am

High school Spanish up to the AP level was all it took for me. I was THE oddball in class since I actually spoke with a good accent and knew Mexican slang. People called me a "Spanish freak" or "honorary Mexican" and always wanted to have me in their groups. Spanish classes were always super fun for me. Unfortunately, many of my classmates dreaded them. Many of them were unfriendly, stressed out Americanized Asian girls who were somehow immensely irritated by my presence. Not a problem for me! :wink:

What made me stand out? Along the way, I practiced with all sorts of Mexican and Central American day laborers, repairmen, restaurant workers, street vendors, on and on. I immersed myself in Spanish-language radio, TV, and newspapers. All the other Asians simply rote learned everything from books and had hard times with virtually every aspect of the language, partly because they had just wanted to get the grades. They just never produced utterances such as "Orale carnal!" - let alone with a Sinaloa campesino accent to make myself even more irritating to everyone. I was a walking incongruity.

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