How long does it take to learn Spanish
It’s one of the most common greetings out there, as the top 3 most spoken language, with over 500M+ native Spanish speakers around the world.
In fact, there are over 21 countries that use Spanish as their official language
So we understand that there’s a lot of people out there that know how to speak Spanish, but what are the benefits of learning Spanish?
We’ve written extensively about the most useful languages to learn (that will make you the most money), and the easiest language to learn. In both articles that we’ve researched, Spanish ranks at the top when it comes to the level of impact it can have in your life and career.
In this complete guide, we’re going to answer questions like:
- i. Why learn Spanish?
- ii. How is learning Spanish different than learning another language?
- iii. What are the benefits of learning a language (including Spanish)?
- iv. How long does it take to learn Spanish?
So let’s start with…
Why Learn Spanish?
In addition to the benefits of learning a language (in general), we want touch upon why learning Spanish in particular is one of the best choices you can make.
Easiest way to reach 500M+ people
Sure, you can learn Mandarin and have the ability to reach over 1B people. But if you’re an English speaker right now, the complexity of speaking Mandarin is much higher than learning Spanish.
The reason for this is because Spanish and English come from the same language family, latin. Our students often ask “How long does it take to learn Spanish?”, and according to learning expert Scott H. Young, Mandarin will take 4x more effort and time than learning how to speak Spanish.
While learning Spanish from English is like going from playing water polo to handball, learning Mandarin from English is like going from playing golf to skiing.
Increase your career opportunities
In addition to China, many of the countries that use Spanish as their official language (i.e. Mexico and South America) are one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
In terms of global purchasing power, the combined GDP of Spanish-speaking countries total to over $6 trillion, with Mexico and Spain alone totalling $1.68 trillion and $1.43 trillion respectively.
Furthermore, the Economist put out a study that shows that adding Spanish to your resume can add over 50,000 Euros ($70,000 USD) of accumulated bonuses.
One of the most transferable languages
Other than English, Spanish is recognized as one of the most transferable languages in the language family. This means that learning Spanish can open up doors to help you learn similar languages, like French, Italian, Portuguese, etc.
Spanish is not only transferable to other languages, but it contains many of the same words in several languages, including English. Take a look at just some of the many words that cross-over between English and Spanish.
How long does it take to learn Spanish?
Now it’s time to answer the central question of this article: how long does it take to learn Spanish?
We’ve already covered that it takes less than learning a less transferable language like Mandarin. But of course, the answer is not as simple as it appears.
The time it takes to learn Spanish or any other language depends on two things:
a. Your method
This is by far the most important part of the equation, and is one that is least understood. With so many solutions out there that promises to teach you a language, including:
It’s hard to know which ones are right for you, and what will help you get to your end goal faster, especially when each company is spending thousands of dollars trying to push their marketing message onto you.
Here’s what science-backed research tells us (National Training Laboratories Institute).
5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
90% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)
According to this research, learning through immediate immersion is up to 18x more effective than the traditional methods of learning a language (i.e. language classrooms).
This means that to get the most effective results in the shortest amount of time, we want to make sure we’re learning by speaking with native speakers, preferably professional teachers that can help guide us in the right direction faster.
b. Your time spent learning
Benny Lewis, a polyglot and the founder of Fluentin3months.com, one of the most popular language blogs online, has this to say about time spent learning a language:
I don’t spend my three months studying the language, I spend them living the language. As well as this, I’m never learning a language full-time. I spend time alone on my computer, doing work (writing these blog posts take time, and as you’ve seen there’s quite a few. So even with less than half-time work investment, I still force myself to use the language as much as I possibly can.
Ultimately, what Benny is pointing out is that instead of studying the language, you should focus on actually immersing yourself in the language by speaking with other locals, understanding the culture, etc. More importantly, instead of binge learning a language, we should make it fit into our lifestyle.
This method of learning will not only allow you to continue enjoying all the aspects of your life (i.e. family, friends, work, etc.), but create a much more sustainable learning experience since you’re able to fit it into your schedule.
c. What language do you already speak?
As we mentioned, certain languages like Spanish are easier to learn if you already know how to speak English.
Bestselling author and polyglot, Tim Ferriss, says that you should consider a new language like a new sport.
There are certain physical prerequisites (height is an advantage in basketball), rules (a runner must touch the bases in baseball), and so on that determine if you can become proficient at all, and—if so—how long it will take.
For example, you wouldn’t expect a professional basketball to be the best at kicking a soccer ball. But you could see an easy transition for a professional water polo to start playing handball.
Think about what languages you already know how to speak, and the more similar of a language you can find, the easier time you’ll have learning it, in less time.
So how long does it take to learn Spanish?
As Benny quotes in his post:
How much time does it take “the average person” to learn a language? Who bloody cares!
And we agree. While our success stories from students prove that learning Spanish can take anywhere from 3-4 months on average (if you have zero knowledge starting out), it can also be shorter for some or longer for others.
The important thing is that you keep these key factors in mind:
- -Make sure you have an end goal and a bigger purpose for learning the language (i.e. connect with family, advance your career, travel, etc.)
- -You’re using the right method to learn (i.e. learning from native speakers, instead of studying it)
- -You’re making it a part of your lifestyle and busy schedule
If you’re looking for a simple solution that can help you achieve all three, we can help you out at Rype.
With 24/7 Unlimited Private Spanish Lessons, you can book as many lesson as you want, at anytime of the day, any day of the week. We’ve built the entire experience to fit the needs of busy individuals like yourself, and you can even try it out for free! Learn more about Rype here.
We also recommend you check out our free resources:
- How to learn a new language in 90 days
- Complete Guide on How to Speak Spanish
Most common Spanish phrases