There are many rule of thumb suggestions coming from many different kinds of people when regarding the right amount of time.
Very often their circumstances do not apply to you or vice versa. We´ll try to make it as easy as possible for you to answr the questions to yourself: How many hours a day should I study a foreign language?
How many hours a day to get fluent in a foreign language depends on these 3 key aspects:
- Consider your level of language learner. We do not mean your level in your target language, but rather how experienced are you when it comes to learning languages? How difficult is the language you desire to speak?
- Consistency is more important than the length of individual study sessions.
- The better you plan and structure your study materials, the more effective each lesson will be. Hence allowing for less time each day.
At what level of language learning are you?
To understand how good you are at learning languages you have to answer yourself following questions:
Haveyou learned another language apart from your native language already?
Do you have a basic understanding of grammar and its terminology?
These factors play an important role in determining the time you have to allocate towards your goal of speaking another language.
While a polyglot that knows 8 languages might learn the ninth language by 30 minutes a day within a year – someone who is looking to pick up their first foreign langue after retirement might need a bit more time than that.
So it is save to say that you have to first understand the pace at which you most likely will learn, understand and keep new information before setting a fixed time frame in which you plan to operate each day.
Watch an interesting video on this topic by Robin MacPherson here.
Learning each day is key!
While the main topic here is how long each day you should spend on a language – we also want to mention consistency. Chose the time you want to spend each day accordingly!
Do not go for more time than what is fun to you. And if you do not have much time or energy – start out with 10 minutes each day. You´ll see that more often than not you´ll spend 20 or even 30 minutes a day at your studies.
Nothing is worse than forcing yourself to study every day for at least 60 minutes only to then realize that you are not in the mood for 60 minutes extensive studying.
Learning a language is a marathon – not a sprint!
If there is one thing I want you to take away here then it`s that you need to keep going. Do a little bit every day for a few years rather then trying to master a language in one year or even 6 months.
If time is limited – plan ahead!
When studying for hours every day, you overcompensate for deficiencies in your methodology or maybe doing things that aren’t working terribly well.
So if you spend 30 minutes each day, you have to start thinking about how are you going to cultivate a balanced skill set in that language over the period of time, if you’re going to be doing 30 minutes a day.
Here you have to plan ahead accordingly and maybe think about each day and the materials and aspects you´ll be covering.
You do not want to use one textbook for 3 months every day for 30 minutes – only to find out that you have zero pronouciation skills and can talk actually.
Make a plan like: Monday – listening with resource A, Tuesday – grammar with resource B etc.
Or mix put two subjects into one training lesson. Do whatever suits you best. Just remember that when time is limited you want to spend it carefully.
If planning and structuring your lessons as well as finding the right materials, seems a bit painstaking to you, then you might want to have a look at the best language learning resources for adults.
To sum it up there is no clear answer to everybody when deciding on how much time each day should be spent on learning a language.
It depends on how experienced you are, how difficult the language is, whether or not you can really be consistent in the long run and how well you can structure your lessons.