Is it actually possible to learn a new language in just three weeks using language apps?
The short answer: yes, according to an independent study conducted by researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of South Carolina.
The longer, more nuanced answer: it obviously depends on how you define the goalposts for “learning a new language.”
No language apps, shortcuts or hacks in the world can replace years of careful, dedicated study and real-world immersion. But if what you’re looking to do is get off the ground and running at a conversational level, we’ve got the perfect cheat code to get you there in just a couple of weeks. The thing is, it’s not really a cheat code: it’s just good linguistic science.
An independent study conducted by researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of South Carolina found that novice users with no knowledge of Spanish needed about 15 hours of study with Babbel over a two-month period to cover the requirements of one beginner’s college semester.
We followed up on this research with a test for our own employees. As it turned out, three weeks was ample time to start speaking a new language, despite the fact that none of the participants was an expert learner, and most of them had busy schedules (you know, normal people stuff).
So what makes Babbel so effective? Well, for one, its courses were developed with the input of more than 100 language experts, like Frauke Samland, Team Lead for Spanish & Portuguese at Babbel.
The amount one can learn within a given period of time depends largely on the language. With that said, here’s how much Spanish you can realistically learn in three weeks, according to Samland.
What Babbel Will Teach You In 3 Weeks
At one lesson per day for 22 days, you can finish the Spanish Beginner’s Course 1. The lessons are short and easily digestible, so each one should only take you approximately 15 minutes. Pronunciation lessons sometimes only take 6 minutes.
In three weeks of using Babbel to learn Spanish, you can acquire:
- A set of relevant vocabulary covering 22 topics. You’ll be able to remember it all, too, because you’ll hear it spoken by native speakers, as well as integrated into useful sentences and matched with images.
Basic grammar knowledge, explained in an easy way for someone with no linguistic knowledge, including:
- Definite and indefinite articles
- Verbs in the present tense
- Personal pronouns
- Questions and negatives
- Using “ser” and “estar”
- Endings of adjectives and nouns
- A good handle on pronunciation, thanks to integrated speech recognition.
A basic understanding of authentic dialog (you know, how people actually speak), as well as cultural understanding of habits and use-cases:
- The ability to introduce yourself and ask people how they’re doing.
- Order a drink (and pay for it) at the bar.
- Ask for directions and navigate public transportation.
- Numbers, ranging from 1 to 10.