You Can Have A Conversation In A New Language In 15 Hours, And We Have Proof

After 15 hours with Babbel, these users felt comfortable putting their new language skills to use.
June 26, 2018

How long does it take to learn a language? If by “learn” you mean “feel comfortable having a basic conversation with someone,” then we’d give it about 15 hours.

An independent study by researchers at the City University of New York and the University of South Carolina evaluated the overall efficacy of Babbel Spanish courses, tracking 325 randomly selected learners and assessing their knowledge of Spanish at the beginning and the end of the study.

To do this, the researchers had the users take a college placement Spanish language test, then study Spanish with Babbel for two months, and then take the test again.

Here were some of the results:

  • 92% of the participants improved their language proficiency.
  • 94% said they were satisfied with the app.
  • Truly novice users with no knowledge of Spanish need, on average, 15 hours of study in a two-month period to cover the requirements for one college semester of Spanish.
  • On average, users improved their test scores by 12.7 points per one hour of study.

So how long does it take to learn a language?

For those of us who are high on aspirations but short on time (in other words, everybody), the thought of devoting years of our lives to language learning can be daunting enough to discourage us from even trying. But with the right language-learning app, you can make meaningful progress in a short amount of time.

15 hours of study sounds pretty manageable, if you ask us. And if you break that up into one hour per day in a typical work week, that’s a semester’s worth of learning in 3 weeks.

We decided to try it out for ourselves by challenging Babbel staff members to learn Spanish in 3 weeks using the app. None were expert learners, and few had very much free time to dedicate to language learning.

Watch the video above to see how they did!

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Author Headshot
Steph Koyfman
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.

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