How long does it take to learn Spanish? 

November 10, 2023

It’s the question we often hear from language students: How long does it take to learn Spanish?

The short answer: 
We know that you want a definitive answer, like “10 hours!” or “18 weeks full time”. What we can tell you is one of our recent studies found that it’s possible to learn Spanish in 25 hours on Busuu. 

Want to understand the factors that influence how long it takes to learn a language?

We’ve got you covered. Time for our longer answer.

The longer answer:

The honest answer is it depends on a couple of factors and your individual ability. 

In order to give you an accurate time frame, we’d need to take into account the level of Spanish you want to reach, and how much time you can commit to learning each day.

Plus, your existing knowledge of other languages and personal motivations will contribute to how long it will take you to learn Spanish.

In a nutshell, the most important words are practice and every day

Still curious to know more?

We will look at the five factors that will determine how long it takes you to learn Spanish.

Wondering how long it will take you to learn Spanish? Here are 5 factors to consider

1. The level of Spanish you are trying to achieve

What do you want to achieve or be able to do in Spanish? If you ask anyone this question, most people will say ‘I want to be fluent in Spanish’. 

But what does ‘fluency’ mean to you? 

Start by considering the reasons why you want to learn Spanish. 

Do you want to be able to get around in a Spanish-speaking country for a week or two? 

Are you going to work in a country where you need the language? 

Or are you going to talk with friends or family in Spanish? 

Say you want to be able to hold a conversation about politics with a group of native speakers. It will likely take you longer than 25 hours to meet that goal! 

But if your goal is to be able to say the odd sentence or two to impress your in-laws, it’s unlikely you’ll need as many as 25 hours.

2. Your knowledge of other languages

If you already speak French, Italian or Portuguese, picking up Spanish will be relatively quicker. They’re all Latin-based languages and they share common roots.

You’ll see a lot of grammar similarities between these languages:

  • Nouns have gender – that is, they’re either masculine or feminine
  • They use formal and informal versions of “you” 
  • Verbs are conjugated in the same way
  • All languages have versions of the Spanish imperfect and preterite
  • They have similar vocabulary

Even experience in learning another non-Latin language will give you an advantage. Those skills, confidence, and your own tips and tricks, can all be applied to learning Spanish and speed up the process.  

3. The amount of time and effort you put into learning Spanish

This is the most important factor when determining how long it takes to learn Spanish. 

The more time you can dedicate to studying and practising Spanish each day, the faster you will reach the level you want.

If your priority is to learn Spanish quickly, say for an upcoming trip or exam, think about how much time you can dedicate to studying Spanish. Set achievable goals and stick to them. 

You should start thinking in terms of how much time you can dedicate to learning Spanish, and once you do that, be consistent.

I recommend you practice Spanish every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Listening and speaking, in particular, will improve your skills over a long period of time.

But if you’re looking for quick results, you’ll need to actively engage with the language a few hours a day, going through all kinds of reading, writing, speaking and listening activities.

Want a one-stop shop for your Spanish learning?

Try Busuu, the language-learning app home to award-winning online language courses, Live Lessons with qualified teachers and a Study Plan made just for you. Your new-and-improved Study Plan might look something like this:

Learn languages with Busuu

– A Live Lesson with Spanish teacher twice a week

– 10 minutes of study on Busuu every day

– Tons of opportunities to test yourself and practise your Spanish skills with our community of Spanish speakers along the way

4. Your motivation

Everyone’s motivation for learning Spanish will be different. For some, they may want to be able to speak about Spanish cuisine on a trip through Barcelona, others may want to communicate with their partners’ family who only speak Spanish. Others may want to boost their career prospects.

Individual motivation can affect how quickly, and how much effort you put into learning Spanish. 

Focusing on your end goal will help you maintain your motivation,so you can keep learning at a good pace. 

And having people around you who speak Spanish or who have the same learning goals can boost your motivation doesn’t hurt, either!

5. Your level of immersion 

Moving to a Spanish speaking country and being immersed in the language every day is an advantage, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become fluent in Spanish overnight. 

Many people move to a Spanish speaking country and they end up only learning the basics to get by, or surrounding themselves with other expats.

So our advice is to try to create an immersive Spanish environment at home. 

Listen to Spanish music or podcasts on your commute. Practise with vocabulary flashcards or watch a Spanish series on Netflix when you get home from work. Turn your phone’s language to Spanish and read the news each morning in Spanish.

So, how long does it actually take to learn Spanish?

As you can see, the answer to this question will be different for everyone. How long it takes to become fluent in Spanish you will depend on the above factors and how they apply to you. If you want a definitive date, Busuu’s Study Plan feature will tell you when you can expect to meet the goal you set yourself to learn Spanish! 

Remember that learning Spanish is not a race. The important thing is not how fast you learn the language, but enjoying the challenge and being proud of your achievements.. 

There will be days when you’ll have a hectic schedule and you won’t have time for Spanish. That’s okay. Focus on what you have achieved. Look at the streaks you have completed, and how far you’ve come.

The hours you invest in learning Spanish will be worth it and at the end, you’ll have a new skill that quite literally changes your life.

Imagine where you could be next year if you start now…

Looking for the quickest way to become fluent in Spanish?

Give Busuu a go today.

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