How Much Time Does It Take To Become Fluent In Chinese?
To learn the Chinese language is a huge undertaking.
For the reason that you’re thinking of learning a new language alone, you deserve a lot of credit. While learning a language like Chinese can make for quite a rewarding experience, especially in keeping up with an ever-competitive job market – it’s hard to deny how much we all want to learn the language as fast as possible.
With that being said, we aim to shed some light on how long it takes to actually become fluent and hold a proper conversation in Chinese.
Your purpose and intention for learning Chinese
It’s generally accepted that there are five levels of language proficiency.
The first level, called Elementary Proficiency, includes being fluent or proficient enough to read most signs, shop designations, and numbers. Basically, a basic enough understanding to NOT get lost when travelling to places like China or Taiwan.
The second level, which is the Limited Working Proficiency, means that you’re capable of socializing and working in an environment where the concerned language is the dominant language.
In order to be considered fluent, you have to be able to do more than the first two levels.
The third level, which is the Professional Working Proficiency, means that you’ve attained a decent vocabulary, can read materials independently on the said language, and speak it with proper grammar and few mistakes.
Professional Working Proficiency should be your minimum target if you want to be considered “fluent” in the Chinese language.
But how long would that take?
How long does it actually take to learn Chinese?
The United States Department of State puts learning Spanish and French at around 600 class hours before one can achieve at least the third level of proficiency. Meanwhile, Chinese is at the opposite of the spectrum, along with Japanese and Korean – estimated to take around 2,200 class hours to learn.
Of course, there are ways to speed up the process.
For example, the best way to learn Chinese, or any other language for that matter, is to live and work in a country or place where the said language is the dominant one. However, that’s not always feasible. Not to mention, it can be quite expensive to have to travel to a foreign country just to learn the language.
Another good alternative to learn the Chinese language is to go and enrol in an intensive language class.
In addition to taking live and intensive language classes, you can also learn Chinese on your own online via the internet. There are numerous online resources that you can use to help supplement your classroom language learning, which should help speed up the entire process.
If you are committed and determined, those 2,200 hours will go by quickly – given the exposure that you get by expose by fully committing yourself to learning Chinese.
In general, however, it will take years to be properly fluent and proficient in Chinese Mandarin, but it’s well worth the effort in the end.