The FSI (Foreign Service Institute) is a US government organization to educate government employees, especially diplomats and politicians, in foreign languages and cultures. As part of their work, they set up a list of languages and their estimated times until fluency. I think the times listed are to short, but it’s only the time in class. You have to add more time for homework, repetition and actual language practice with native speakers. Feel free to multiply by 2 or 3. The list is aimed at native speakers of English, but I think it is useful as an estimate for anyone. While the list isn’t ideal to estimate required learning times, it is pretty good to find out how much effort one language takes compared to another one.
Without further ado, here is the list of time required to learn a language according to the FSI:
23-24 weeks (575-600 class hours)
30-36 weeks (750-900 class hours)
44 weeks (1100 class hours)
Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
88 weeks (2200 class hours)
Taiwanese (Hokkien Min Nan)
I found the list on Wikibooks, but they don’t give a link to the original. I can only assume that the original is a print document.
According to the list, Chinese takes 88 weeks or 2200 hours. Thats 1.5 years, with 25 class hours per week. Ad in more learning time outside class, then this is like a stressful full time job. You can get some results in such a time frame, but it’s only realistic for people who don’t work and can stay in China.
Tip of the day:
Awesome people prefer to study languages that take at least 2200 class hours.