I am often asked this by new learners and it is always very difficult to answer as it varies person to person and also depends on many different factors. For some people it may take a few months, for others one to three years or even five years or more for some people. This article looks at ways to become fluent more quickly in Spanish or any language for that matter:
The reason why some people pick up languages more quickly than others is because of three main reasons: (1) Some people have more time to spend on learning the language, (2) Some people are able to live in the country for several months or years or (3) Some people have a natural flair to pick up foreign languages.
(1) Spend as much time as possible living in the country. Whether you are able to go for 3-6 months, a year or several years, make a conscious effort to engage in conversation with native speakers every day. Immerse yourself in the language as much as possible; join a local club, pursue your interests as you would in your home country.
(2) Find a native speaker to chat with in Spanish regularly, either face-to-face, online or by email.
(3) Join an online community or language exchange program such as “Conversation Exchange” which allows you to communicate with people who are native speakers in the language that you are learning.
(4) Learn to THINK in Spanish as much as possible; for example, when you are shopping, practise the numbers and food items in your head. Think about what you have to do the next day.
(5) Get into the habit of reading Spanish newspapers online or reading Spanish magazines on subjects you are interested in – every day if possible. Read Spanish novels by the same author as they will use similar vocabulary, which will help you to retain new words and phrases. Once you become familiar with this author’s language, move on to another author. Watch Spanish television and Spanish films (you can hire Spanish films from Love Film or Block Buster) with subtitles to help you. Listen to Spanish songs and radio broadcasts.
Therefore the answer is, you can become fluent in a language from anywhere between a few months to many years, depending on the time you have available to learn the language, your natural ability to pick up new languages and how often you can visit the country.
As well as immersing yourself in the language every day if possible, the key to learning a foreign language is MOTIVATION and DETERMINATION. If you want to learn a language you have to be willing to put the time in yourself, in addition to a course of lessons. I found that to really learn the language I had to do a lot of “self-learning” in addition to passing academic exams throughout school and university. There is no doubt that living in Spain was the main factor in becoming fluent in Spanish.
If you would like advice on how to learn Spanish or book some lessons to give yourself a head start, call Fiona on (01733) 759934 / 07870 699404