This is one of the most common questions I get from beginners – how long is it going to take for me to speak French? It’s a great question too, especially if it’s your first time embarking on a language journey. You need to know what you’re getting into! Unfortunately, it is not a straightforward answer, as it depends on how well you want to speak French.

If your goal is to communicate at a basic level – this means introducing yourself, asking and answering questions about where you live, people you know and things you own or want – you’ll have to learn around 500 core words – that’s 500 of the most commonly used words in French. You’ll also roughly need between 30 and 50 hours of one-on-one tutorials where you learn to form sentences and practice conversation. If you do two hours a week, you would be achieving this level in around 4 months. While that may seem like a long time, it is actually really short. If you are in a classroom, you’d need around 90-100 hours to reach the same level (The Association of Language Testers of Europe). That means, if you did 2 hours a week, it would take you about a year. This is because you don’t get the same bespoke training and conversation practice as you would with a one-to-one language coach.

If your goal is to communicate at an elementary level – this means being able to communicate 100% in French as long as the other person speaks slowly and clearly – you’ll need to know around 1000 words and have done 90 and 100 hours of one-on-one tutorials. If you do two hours a week, you would be achieving this level in around 10 months. Again, if you are in a traditional classroom, the figures double at around 180 – 200 hours and you’d probably be looking to be in a classroom for a little over two years.
If your goal is to communicate at an intermediate level – this means being close to being fluency so that you can work or go to school in France – then you will need to take taking lessons with me for anywhere between 180 and 300 hours. This will give you a vocabulary of between 2,000 and 4,000 words. If you studied with me for two hours per week, you would be fluent within two to three years. Once more, if you are in a traditional classroom, the figures double at between 350 and 600 hours.

If your goal is to achieve complete fluency, so that you can discuss, debate, and argue about virtually any topic with spontaneity, then you will need to take between 350 – 600 hours of lessons. My students at this level usually know about 8,000 to 16,000 words or more words and have been actively learning for more than 7 years or more. They have also stopped studying in classes because their needs have become too bespoke.

Again, everybody learns differently, and these are rough estimates to give you a rough idea. Whatever level you are aiming for – one thing is definitely clear – the quickest way to achieve your goal will be with a good one-to-one tutor who will guide you and motivate you through your very exciting language journey.