[Deactivated user]
How much time does it take to get fluent in a language if you move to the country where it's spoken? Assuming you didn't know the language before/only knew the basics, like a few words, greetings, simple sentences. Do you have any experience? If no, what is your opinion about it? If yes, did you study the language, like with additional learning materials or a local teacher, or did you only learn it by immersion?
Mar 25, 2019 5:50 PM
Comments · 18
Of course, there's no answer that fits all like the previous posters pointed out, but nevertheless I'd like to add a possible time frame. When we're talking about an educated person with some previous language learning experience, then six months for passing a B2 exam and another six months (so altogether one year) for passing a C1 exam are realistic time frames. At least for German. For Chinese, I'd add another year because of the big number of characters. Please note that I wrote "passing a C1 exam". Passing an exam and being really fluent are different things.

I never had the experience that I moved to a country and started to study a language from scratch. When I moved to Japan to study Japanese at university, I was at intermediate level and by the end of the year, I was advanced and felt like my English and my Japanese were at the same level. But after moving to China, I stopped practising Japanese, so my level dropped substantially. When I moved to China, I could read and write a bit but not talk at all. I spoke mainly German and English because I was teaching German and had a lot of foreign friends but I took private classes once per week and it took me half a year until I felt comfortable talking in Chinese. The first time I only stayed for a year but I returned to China after two years, married a Chinese and lived with his family for five years in China. Yes, I can speak Chinese comfortably but I'm far from what I would call fluent. I never lived in an English speaking country and only learnt it at school but I'm reasonably fluent. So, in my case, just living in an immersive environment won't make me fluent.

March 25, 2019
@Evil Eye

Well, I wasn't a beginner in Chinese by the time I moved to China but had studied Chinese as a minor at university. So, I had a year of classroom training and years of reading texts in Chinese under my belt before I actually moved to China. Seems the only thing that works for me is learning a language at school. Majoring or minoring in a language at university, moving to the country, having a native speaker as spouse all don't seem to do the trick. I'm a hopeless case.

March 25, 2019

@Miriam: "in my case, just living in an immersive environment won't make me fluent."

Immersion isn't always the best solution. In an interesting study, the US government concluded that their program of sending beginning Hindi students to India for immersion was a failure. The students got frustrated and ended up relying on English to get by. But, giving them an academic year of classroom training and then sending them to India produced great results.

March 25, 2019
My aunt has been in the US since I was 1 year old. I've lived in Ecuador all my life. My English is better than hers.
March 25, 2019
Moving to the country just means you’ll be more motivated — or not (as Joshua mentions). In the past, it also meant you would have more exposure to the target language, but with today’s internet, you easily can get as just as much or more practice (listening, speaking, etc.) without leaving your home.

March 25, 2019
Show more