How Long Does It Take to Learn French?

How Long Does It Take to Learn French?

If you’ve always dreamed of living, working, or even just visiting France, you might have found yourself getting a little worried about how to make yourself understood. Do you have to learn French and how long does it take to learn French?


We have some good news for you; French is not really considered a hard language to learn. 

The best way to learn French though, is probably through immersion, actually going to France or another country where French is the majority language spoken. By doing this, what is essentially a crash course in both the language and the culture, you will learn French in 3 to 6 months.


About French language

French is a Romance language which means it came “from Rome” and that it was derived from Latin.

French is among one of the five most commonly spoken Romance languages in the world. The others are Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian.

Around 800 million people all around the world have a Romance language as their “native” language.

Spanish is actually the most commonly spoken Romance language, and some people believe that, because of the similarities between them it is easier to learn one if you already know the other.

So how long does it take to learn French if you speak Spanish? That will probably depend on how fluent you are in Spanish, but you could find it halves the learning time.

According to the 2019 edition of the Ethnologue, French is the 5th most common language in the world. 

If we are going by people who consider French either their first language or a second or additional language, there are 276.6 million French speakers in the world.

Of all the French speakers in the world, 77.3 million consider it their first language. Those that consider it a second or an additional language actually outnumber the native speakers, at 199.3 million.

French actually is the third most commonly spoken second language in the world, after English and Hindi.

3 Best Ways to Learn French and How Long They Take

So if you want to be part of the growing number of people who want to learn to speak French as an additional language, you are probably wondering what is the best way to start?

The best way to learn French is to have some sort of immersive experience. This could include going to France or a French speaking country or hiring a tutor. 

While using online resources can also help, they lack an interactive quality. Many language teachers still recommend that having actual conversations in the language that you are trying to learn is the best way to truly become fluent.

Let’s briefly run down the ways to learn French. In the end, you will have to make the choice as to which method best suits your own specific needs and learning time table.

1. Immersion

How long will it take you to learn French? 3-6 months

The idea behind immersion is that you surround yourself with the language as spoken by native speakers. 

Of course, this isn’t just going to France with a French-phrase book, this is going to France to enroll in a French-language course. 

There are three ways that you can easily find a French-language immersion program:

  • Check with the French consulate in your home country

They can give you advice on what is available. Sometime the consulate themselves may offer some learning programs or even language exchange trips. If they don’t they can also point you in the direction of programs run by reputable organizations or affiliated with a legitimate language center, school, or even French university.

  • Check if there is an Alliance Francaise in your country

Alliance Francaise is an international organization, subsidized by the French government, which aims to spread the French language and culture around the world. There are 850 centers around the world.

While they are mostly known for providing French language lessons in a classroom setting, they also have a variety of programs and events dedicated to brining French culture to the area they are located in. They could offer exchange programs or could point you out in the direction or other organizations that offer their own immersion programs.

  • Look online

While a quick Google search will bring you many lists and articles of French immersion programs, make sure that these are legitimate. It’s best to check with the French consul or embassy before making any specific plans or handing over any money or requirements.

2. With a tutor

How long will it take you to learn French? 6-12 months.

While an immersion program sounds interesting and is a good way to learn, it’s not for everybody. Not everybody can afford to just drop all their obligations to go off to France for several months to learn the language. 

A good alternative to an immersion program then is to work with a French language tutor. If you hire a tutor, you can schedule your lessons during a time that is convenient for you. Say after work hours or during the weekend. 

Working with a tutor gives you the advantage of spending several hours a week where you are at least partially immersed in French language and culture. A good tutor will encourage you to speak and think in French as well as provide you with interesting lessons about the culture and history of France.

Many tutors believe that fluency is achieved by surrounding yourself with the language, so they can also point you towards good resources such as books, television shows, movies, or podcasts that will help you learn.

Find a tutor here.

3. Using language learning apps

There are several online language learning program available, many with accompanying apps. The premise of these language learning platforms is, even more so than online tutors, they allow you to learn a language at your convenience.

With an online tutor, you will still have to sign up for language learning sessions on a specified schedule. Say, Saturdays at 9am and Sundays at 4pm. The advantage learning apps have over a tutor is, you can whip out your app and learn almost anytime and anywhere. 

Many people love the convenience of language learning apps, though there is some concern at to just how fluent you can get. After all, with a language learning app you don’t really get the interaction that many feel is key to enabling you to really hold conversations with native speakers is missing. 

Let’s take a look at two popular language learning platforms, Babbel and Rosetta Stone.

Babbel is a popular language learning platform that has been helping people learn new languages through its app for over a decade. Babbel aims to equip learners with practical language skills necessary for real-world conversations. One of the standout features of Babbel is its focus on conversational learning, where lessons are crafted around common real-life interactions to ensure the language learned is practical and immediately usable.

Babbel also integrates speech recognition technology to aid in perfecting pronunciation, allowing users to receive instant feedback. This technology supports learners in adjusting their accent to sound more like native speakers. Additionally, Babbel encourages regular practice with its bite-sized lessons designed to fit into a busy schedule easily.

For those interested in learning French, Babbel offers comprehensive courses that span a wide range of proficiency levels. According to Babbel, the duration it takes to learn French, or any language, can vary widely depending on the learner's dedication and previous experience. Typically, Babbel suggests that consistent learners can reach conversational fluency in a new language within a few months, assuming regular practice. The program is structured to guide learners progressively through more complex topics and conversational skills, adapting to their learning pace to maximize retention and application of the language.

Rossetta Stone is a language learning program with a mobile app that has been around for twenty five years. They try to help people learn languages so that they can have real-world conversations. 

They have developed a speech recognition technology called TruAccent that allows users to practice their language speaking and get real-time feedback on their accents.

Rosetta Stone allows language speakers to learn language in context and how to speak like a native-speaker. It encourages them to practice their language learning daily.

French, of course is one of the languages that Rosetta Stone provides lessons on. How long does it take to learn French with Rosetta Stone? Well according to them, it should take you about 120-150 hours to complete the first three levels of their learning programs. For the full five levels, it will take 200 hours or more.


If you Google “how long did it take you to learn French” you will probably get a variety of answers.


Looking at online forums, asking “how long does it take to learn French” on Reddit or “how long does it take to learn french?”  on Quora and most people will say it took them half a year or a year. 


Remember though, it’s not so much the quantity – the physical hours put in, but the quality that matters. 

How long does it take to learn French from scratch?

With a good tutor, you can probably learn it in 6-12 months.

Can you learn French in 6 months?

It's possible if you're persistent and consistent. You should have a schedule and study every day.

Is it hard to learn French?

It's not hard to learn French. It's a language with a lot of rules but once you learn them, you'll be able to achieve fluency with practice.

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