How long does it take to learn a language?

How many hours dos one need to reach various levels in a language?

In theory

  • How long does it take to learn Russian? Estimates are available for the various TRKI levels:
  • Time needed to learn Russian

    TRKI LevelCEFRHours per levelTotal hours
    Elementary
    A1
    90
    100
    Basic
    A2
    150
    250
    1st Certificate
    B1
    345
    600
    2nd Certificate
    B2
    540
    1100
    3rd Certificate
    C1
    210
    1300
    4th Certificate
    C2
    150
    1450
  • How long does it take to learn Hungarian?
    • FSI puts their estimate at 1,100 hours for the general professional proficiency (S-3/R-3) level (on the ILR scale) which means B2–C1.
    • FSI puts Hungarian and Russian in the same difficulty group.
    • Based on my experience with the difficulty of Hungarian and Russian (coming from French and mastering English), I suspect S-3 is more B2 than C1 and that the table above for Russian would apply just as well to Hungarian.

In practice

  • I had 1,438 hours of practice under my belt when I passed the C1 exam in Hungarian, on December 6th, 2019.
    • Unlike estimates above, this includes both study time and practice time, though mostly the later.
    • The results were:
    • Complex exam Listening: 45% Speaking: 76% Reading: 90% Writing: 80% Total: 73% Successful exam.
    • I feel the listening part was particularly difficult (so did the one girl who took the exam along with me.) In comparison, I'd scored an average of 70% on the listening part of my practice tests.
    • I feel they were kind with me on speaking. I wasn't particularly fluent on those topic.
    • I feel I would have failed the C1 exam with just 1,100 hours of practice, but that going for just B2 would have worked. (Registering for the exam helped me go get 338 hours of practice between when I registered and when I took the exam.)