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How long does it take to learn Chinese? 4 factors to consider

Foreign Service Institute answers the question, how long does it take to learn Chinese? According to the FSI scale, learning Chinese to reach native/bilingual proficiency will take about 2200 hours or 88 weeks of active learning if you are an English speaker. Although Chinese is one of the top five most challenging languages to learn for English speakers, the difficulty level depends on your exposure to the language. 

Growing up in an environment where you have to converse and interact with people in Chinese will make learning the language faster for you than skimming through textbooks. Contrary to popular opinion, Chinese grammar is easier to understand than developing an extensive vocabulary set. So, strengthening your vocabulary is what you will be spending most of your time on. The number of characters you learn is not equal to the number of words you would know, as you'd be using the same characters to construct different words.

How long does each Chinese level take to learn?

The second thing to consider is the level of one's proficiency. There are five different levels of language proficiency, as outlined by the Department of State of the United States.

  • The first level of proficiency is elementary. It entails learning the most fundamental terms necessary for short-term travel and the ability to move about securely.

  • The second level is "Limited Working Proficiency." It denotes the ability to carry on a brief conversation covering the fundamentals and grasp a small amount of text.

  • If you are studying Chinese for professional purposes, the least level of proficiency you should strive to achieve is level three, often known as "Minimum Professional Proficiency." You can talk with adequate structural accuracy and conduct natural, comfortable conversations with native speakers when you have reached this level.

  • At the fourth level, known as "Full Professional Proficiency," you will be able to comprehend 90 percent of what is spoken by native speakers.

  • Then, as you can probably assume, level 5 is when you are fluent in both languages and are considered native speakers of both.

But how long does it take to learn Chinese or each level of Chinese? As shown earlier, native English speakers need 2,200 hours of classroom instruction to become proficient in Chinese. If you were to put everything else on hold and devote all of your time and energy to learning Chinese at five hours of study each day, it would take you 88 weeks to reach your goal.

However, we would say that this knowledge is somewhat restricted. Do you know why?

It is predicated on the assumption that you are needed to enroll in traditional language programs to learn Chinese, which is not the most efficient approach to acquiring a new language. In addition, it does not provide any information on the proficiency level that you would achieve after completing 2,200 hours of coursework in the subject.

4 factors to consider before you start learning Chinese?

After answering your question - how long does it take to learn Chinese? - and before you start learning Chinese, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why do you want to learn Chinese?

If you're learning it to fuel your passion for literature, you'd have to go through different script styles, pronunciations, and dialects. Suppose you're learning it to secure admission to one of the top Chinese universities or qualify for a scholarship. In that case, it's best to learn it from experienced instructors and proper learning material. Besides, you can also develop a basic level of communication with native speakers or locals with good practice. But how long does it take to learn Chinese to get to that stage? Well, it will take you 3 to 6 months.

2. Did you try learning Chinese in the past?

Suppose you're one of those students who couldn't stay committed to learning Chinese due to academic or professional responsibilities or any distractions. In that case, there's never been a better time to resume your learning. Whether you're a beginner or an intermediate learner, Taipei Language Institute(TLI) has courses and customized learning materials designed for you to pick up your journey right from where you left it.

3. What method are you using to learn Chinese?

At the beginner's level, the most common mistake you're likely to make while learning Chinese is to jump on any website that appears in the search results. Although there's an unlimited supply of information available online, if you don't have a fundamental learning outline or curriculum to follow, chances are you'll soon find yourself overwhelmed. It's best to enroll in an expert-led and well-structured course if you're committed to learning Chinese.

You will find Taipei Language Institute(TLI) equipped with a team of qualified and experienced instructors. Undoubtedly, they will help you become an expert in Chinese vocabulary and grammar using experiential learning and problem-solving techniques.

4. How fluent do you want to be in Chinese?

There's only a limited amount of knowledge you can get from Chinese lectures and textbooks. Your learning curve won't lift until you start collaborating with your fellow learners or have daily communications in Chinese. However, at Taipei Language Institute(TLI), you have the freedom to choose your classmates and the number of learners in your classroom. It's so you can maximize and experiment with your language skills on the spot and socialize with several people from diverse backgrounds.

Language experts are at your service!

As mentioned earlier, Taipei Language Institute(TLI) language experts are here to assist you in mastering Mandarin Chinese. As far as the question is concerned, how long does it take to learn Chinese on our platform? It only needs 1000 hours from beginner to advanced level. If you spend 5 hours every day, it takes 200 days; 2 hours every day, it takes 1.3 years. On the other hand, a beginner to an intermediate level only needs 360 hours.