How Long Does it Take to Learn French?

Instructor: Alison Larabie Chase
Learning a foreign language such as French can help your career prospects and make travel easier. Get an idea of how long it might take you to become proficient in French and how to achieve it.

Learning French: How Long Does It Take?

The amount of time it takes you to learn French will depend on a number of factors, including how and where you do your learning, whether you are studying full-time or part-time, and your own aptitude for learning languages (which can be assessed using the Modern Language Aptitude Test, if you're so inclined).

It also depends on what you mean by 'learn.' If you're planning a vacation to a French-speaking area, you can learn enough French to get by in just a few weeks. If you want to be able to carry on a full conversation, understand television programs and jokes, and read simple French books, you're looking at six months minimum if you're studying French full-time. If you're studying for less than 20 hours a week, it will take longer - several years of part-time study is a good estimate.

Making It Happen

There are loads of ways to learn French, but naturally some of them cost more than others and require varying time commitments. You may be able to start by taking French in high school at no additional cost as part of your public education. Or, you can study it in college: there are many schools offering degrees in the French language, and those departments often allow non-major students to take courses as well.

You might also consider a college's non-credit continuing education and professional development offerings, which generally cost less than a traditional credit-granting class and can be completed in less time.

Self-study is another option for students who need to work at their own pace or are looking for an even more affordable alternative to college courses. To get the most out of whichever option you choose, take a look at the following tips.

Immerse Yourself for Faster Results

Learning French is generally easier and happens more quickly when you're immersed in French language and culture, so if you're able to live and study in France, Quebec, or another francophone area, you'll probably achieve fluency faster. You might consider applying to one of the many study abroad programs or seeking out paid work in a French-speaking location. Some employers (such as the federal government and large corporations) provide language training for employees who will be working overseas.

Consider Online Resources

Online resources could prove useful regardless of whether you're using them to supplement your classroom instruction or looking for some materials to help you go it alone.

Study.com's Basic French: Help & Review course offers an introduction to the French language, including basic grammar and spelling lessons as well as some beginner vocabulary. If you successfully complete that course, or are looking for a resource you can print and use for study offline, the site also has a number of flashcards for self-quizzing and reinforcing what you've learned. The ones for commonly used verbs are especially useful, as verbs are often cited as the most challenging part of learning French:

Make It Fun

There are several games and other fun activities used in French classes that you can replicate with your classmates or friends. Check out the ideas found in Study.com's French Learning Games and French Vocabulary Games lessons. If you're enjoying yourself, you'll want to work harder and your progress will be speedier.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

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