How Long Does It Take to Learn German? Top 4 Factors to Consider (2023)

How Long Does It Take to Learn German? Top 4 Factors to Consider (1)

By How Long Does It Take to Learn German? Top 4 Factors to Consider (2)gayatritribhuvan Last updated:

If you’re wondering, “How long does it take to learn German?” there are some solid answers that’ll help you plot out your language studies.

In this post, I’ll walk you through four top factors that influence how long it’ll take you to learn German.

Depending on your goals, your current level, your access to native German speakers and your study methods, you’ll be able to understand how many months or years it’ll take you to learn this incredible language—and even how to speed up your learning.


  • 1. The German Level You Want to Achieve
  • 2. How Much German Immersion You Can Get
  • 3. Your Ability to Co-relate German Words
  • 4. Your Focus on German Grammar Structures

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1. The German Level You Want to Achieve

Unsurprisingly, the more fluent you want to be in German, the longer it’ll take to achieve your goals. But how long will it take to learn German from beginner to advanced stages?


I’ll start by extrapolating from my personal experience. Before I went to Germany for my Masters program, I was at an early intermediate stage—B1 in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It had taken me about a year and a half to get up to this point. I could get by in my new home, but my German was pretty broken.

Studying German from home, you can expect about the same timeframe to get up to B1. (We’ll discuss German learning environments in more depth in a minute.) This is supported by the Goethe Institut, which offers official German exams at levels A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced). They say that you need to have completed at least 350 45-minute German lessons/practice sessions to reach B1, which would take roughly a year and a half since most people can’t take a lesson every single day in a row.

For those passionate souls who were probably linguists in a previous life, you’ll be aiming for C2 German fluency. This is where you want to know the German language in every atom of your being, not to mention German culture and etiquette. Learners reach C2 at different rates depending on the other factors we’ll discuss here, but expect nothing less than three years (and probably several more years).

The Goethe Institut says you need to have studied German for at least 750 hours to get to this point.

2. How Much German Immersion You Can Get

Immersion is a language-learning method where you’re surrounded by the language you’re studying. In immersion, your learn words naturally through context and repetition. You won’t be translating back and forth between German and your native language.

Immersion is generally accepted to be one of the fastest ways to learn a language, especially if you can achieve total immersion by living in Germany. I’m a German teacher in India, and I usually suggest that my intermediate students go to Germany and take light, fun German classes on the weekends. That way they’re immersed in German 24/7 while getting a bit of focused language study. With this method, most of them get fluent within six months.

This of course varies, as each individual is different and blessed with different kinds of intelligence. But in a total immersion environment you can expect to learn German within this timeframe, and maybe up to a couple of years, depending on how much of a beginner you were when you arrived. Of course, for this to work, you need to bereally immersed! No hanging out at English pubs in Berlin!


Okay, so what can you do if you aren’t currently located in a German-speaking area? While slower than total immersion, at-home immersion is still an option, thanks to great online resources.

Online immersion programs are one way to accomplish this. Rosetta Stone is one immersion program that follows the traditional way of teaching a language. Another program is FluentU. This program immerses learners in German culture and language through authentic German videos with interactive captions. There are various exercises to learn new words, and you can create flashcards decks to further practice your vocabulary.

Online language exchanges are another great way to get immersive German practice from anywhere. They allow you to converse in German with actual native speakers over video or text chat. Here are a dozen helpful tips to find a German language exchange partner.

3. Your Ability to Co-relate German Words

I call this the “language sense.” I strongly believe that when we learn a new language, our intuition needs to be at its peak. We need to co-relate (or associate) the words we hear to something we already know. Given that English and German are cousins, co-relating makes the learning process a lot faster for native English speakers.

Let me give you an example. If I hear the word sitzen,I immediately co-relate it to the English word “sit.” After all,sitzen and sit don’t sound that different! Even if I haven’t officially studied the wordsitzen, I can use my language sense and context to figure out what it means.

If you’ve looked at some German cognates with English, then you’ve already started to co-relate! But it’s not just about similar-looking words.

You can become even better at co-relating after learning some of the basic rules of German. Take separable verbs, for example.Verbs that have the ausprefix refer to an outward action such as ausgehen (to go out), auswandern (to immigrate out of the country), ausnutzen (to exploit/to take out something from someone), etc. Once you know this, you can piece together the meaning of different German verbs.

(Video) How long does it take to become fluent i German

In a similar manner you can build your German language sense by understanding whatdifferent prefixes typically mean.

Of course, there are exceptions that’ll throw you off. For example, when I was a tiny tot in my German learning, I would’ve never co-related geld to the word “money.” In such cases I have to just memorize the German word. But I’d say that in 70% of the cases, one can easily co-relate.

It’s hard to provide a hard-and-fast rule for how much your ability to co-relate will speed up your language learning process. This is the kind of thing that’ll pay dividends over time, by cutting down on your vocabulary drills and creating space for you to study other German concepts.

4. Your Focus on German Grammar Structures

Although co-relating is an important element of language learning, don’t fall into the trap of translating directly word-for-word between German and your native language. By focusing on German grammar structures, you’ll start to sound more natural and fluent in German way faster.

For example, in German, it’s a well known fact that verbs have a very fixed place in different kinds of questions and statements. If you start jamming German words into sentences using the same structures you use in English, you won’t make much sense.

Therefore, to learn German faster, you need to start focusing on German grammar as early as possible. Keep a notebook to write down common German sentence structures you encounter. Get yourself a verb conjugation book. Try free German grammar exercises online at the German-learning site Deustch-Lernen.

(Video) How Long Does it Take to Become Fluent in German | How Long Does It Take To Learn German? Motivating

You can actually combine the immersion method we discussed above with your grammar practice. For example, you can naturally absorb German grammatical structures by listening to native German pop stars—here’s how.

Want to speed things up even more? Check out these six tricks to hack German grammar.

Here’s one last secret for you: there won’t necessarily be a single moment where you’ve totally learned German. Language learning is an ongoing process even after you can start calling yourself fluent.

Even though I’m a C2 German speaker,I stay in touch with German through teaching, reading German news and listening to German radio. When everyone asks me how I manage to remember the language despite returning to India from Germany 10 years ago, this is what I tell them.

It’s important to remember that learning a new language is an art, not a science. So instead of taking a very logical approach, try and learn German with an open mind. Try and develop your own logic to connect with the language.

Learning any new language isn’t easy. It requires, time, effort and dedication. But most importantly, passion is the key ingredient.

Gayatri Tribhuvan is a passionate linguist from Bangalore, India and teaches German, French and other languages. She enthusiastically contributes her knowledge in the linguistics field. Get to know more about her language school that she runs in Bangalore, India here.

(Video) How well can you learn German in 5 months?

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


How long does it realistically take to learn German? ›

German is rated as a category 2 language and considered to be similar to English. The FSI estimates that German takes approximately 30 weeks, or 750 classroom hours to learn. This study was conducted on a group of language students who spent 25 hours per week in class, and three hours daily on individual practice.

Can I reach B1 German in 3 months? ›

In all, that comes to about 200 hours total, meaning that to reach a B1 level in German in 3 months, you should study the language for about ~2 hours and 10 minutes each day. It's a high goal, but if you have sufficient motivation, you can definitely reach it.

How long does it take to finish A1 and A2 German? ›

German has different levels from A1 to C2. Basic A1 to A2 – Attending an Intensive course takes A1 in around 60 hours and A2 in 120 hours. Intermediate B1 to B2 – B1 takes 200 hours and B2 takes approximately 300 hours.

How long does it take to get to C1 in German? ›

Anyone who has a fairly high level of language skill goal, such as B2 or C1 as a level, should schedule at least nine to 12 months of daily intensive German courses or a visit to the nearest Studienkolleg (when in Germany) when starting with zero knowledge.

What level of German is considered fluent? ›

The German language has 6 CEFR levels – starting with A1 (absolute beginner), and ending with C2 (completely fluent).

How long does it take to perfect German? ›

According to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI), you'll need about 750 hours of study to become fluent in German. This means that if you study 12-15 hours a week, you'll be able to speak like a pro in just a year!

Is B2 German fluent? ›

B2 is the first level that means that you can speak really fluent and understand 80% of the situations that you find yourself in repeatedly. You can prepare yourself for the exam and even see a sample of the language level here.

How difficult is A1 German? ›

German A1 exam pattern is quite simple. As it's a language, there are 4 modules- Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. It is 60 points exam and you have to score 36 points (60%) to pass the exam.

What level is duolingo German equivalent to? ›

Whether you're a total beginner or you're looking to brush up, Duolingo's German course is definitely one of the best options currently available. The course is now hitting the same heights as the French and Spanish courses — which Duolingo reckon can get you to a B2 level on the CEFR.

How long does it take to finish A1 German? ›

How long does it take to learn German?
Assess your current level & test your German online!Super Intensive course (30 lessons/week)
A1beginner6 weeks
A2elementary6 weeks
B1intermediate6 weeks
B2upper intermediate6 weeks*
2 more rows

How hard is C2 German? ›

The C2 level exam: Think “very hard” & multiply that by a thousand. The Common European Framework of References for Languages level C2 is one of the hardest possible examinations you can do in any language.

How difficult is Goethe A2 exam? ›

Goethe German A2 exam details. German A2 exam pattern is quite simple. As it's a language, there are 4 modules- Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. It is a 60 points exam and you have to score a minimum 36 points (60%) to pass the exam.

Can I reach B2 German in 3 months? ›

B2 also takes around 3 months if you spend around 8 hours a week. P.S.: There are some people who are good at learning languages and remembering stuff who finished it all in 3-4 months. It all depends on how easy this comes to you and how much time you're spending on it.

How much time does it take to reach B2 in German? ›

How much time do you need to learn German to a B2 level? A quick google search shows that The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) suggests that you need about 750 hours to get to this level.

Can I learn German C1 in 2 years? ›

Many think it is a difficult one. Well, I believe all language is more complex or easier to learn. If you have passion and ready to give enough time, you will achieve the German language proficiency test B2/C1 in 2-3 years.

How long does it take to get to B1 German? ›

They say that you need to have completed at least 350 45-minute German lessons/practice sessions to reach B1, which would take roughly a year and a half since most people can't take a lesson every single day in a row.

How good is duolingo for German? ›

Duolingo may be effective in teaching German vocabulary, however when it comes to grammar Duolingo struggles in teaching rules and concepts of German efficiently. In a classroom, you will be taught the same amount of vocabulary, but with a deeper insight into grammar.

How many words do you need to speak German fluently? ›

To be fluent in German, a speaker needs to know around 10,000 words.

What is the best way to become fluent in German? ›

11 Tips to Breaking Through and Finally Becoming Fluent in German
  1. Get a German Dictionary.
  2. Buy a German Textbook.
  3. Listen to German Music.
  4. Read German Children's Books.
  5. Read German Translations of English books.
  6. Get a German Sprachpartner (language partner)
  7. Find a Stammtisch (regular meeting of German speakers)
Dec 14, 2022

How hard is it to learn German fluently? ›

According to the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) of the US government, an English speaker would need about 750 class hours or 30 weeks of practice to become fluent in German. Of course, this is not 100% accurate for every individual. Some people have a knack for learning languages, others don't.

Why is German so hard to learn? ›

But what makes German so hard to learn? The only reason that German seems so difficult to people is that it has grammar rules that other languages don't. German is a language with relatively high “inflection,” meaning that the words in a sentence change based on their grammatical roles.

Is B1 enough for German? ›

Depending on the German federal state, level B1 or B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is required.

How long does it take to go from B2 to C2 in German? ›

B2 is reached after around 600 hours of German study from the scratch in a good institute like Goethe Institut. C2 however takes at least 1200 hours. Practically very few institues will provide hyper intensive course of 600 hours in 5 months.

How advanced is B1 German? ›

B1 (Lower Intermediate)

At the B1 level, you can start to enjoy more German media, grasping the main ideas of TV or radio programs that have slow and clear narration. Your written and spoken expressions also become more sophisticated.

Is Duolingo enough for German A1? ›

No, absolutely not! I've completed the German Duolingo tree (as well as the reverse tree) and am certified level C1 in German, so I am qualified to answer this question. Duolingo is great for beginning your learning, and keeping up with a foreign language, but it will only get you to approximately A2, if even that.

Can I get job with German A1? ›

If you are an EU citizen with German A1 you can directly work in several jobs. As a student you may work for up to 90 days a year in Germany.

Is B1 German hard? ›

The B1 level is the third level in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. It is certainly a step beyond the A1 & A2 exams. Passing the B1 level German exam means that you are on the intermediate level of your journey.

Can you reach B1 with Duolingo German? ›

By reaching the end of Unit 5, Duolingo learners have completed all the lessons in the beginner sections of our courses, called A1 and A2, and are starting intermediate B1 material.

Can Duolingo get you to B2? ›

At Duolingo, we're developing our courses to get you to a level called B2, at which you can get a job in the language you're studying. Reaching that kind of proficiency requires dedication, varied practice opportunities, and a lot of time.

What is the hardest language on Duolingo? ›

It means they've gotten the word right every time it has been shown. Anyway, based on this linear regression, French is definitely the hardest language, insofar as it takes more instances of seeing a certain word before reaching the same number of correct productions as one of the other languages.

How much German can you learn in 3 months? ›

You need more than 3 months to be fluent. But even with such a short time, if you adjust your strategy, you can actually learn German and get really close to being fluent. And I don't mean being able to say, 'I'm doing fine' in German as fast as a native speaker or being able to combine words you learned on Duolingo.

Is duolingo enough for German A2? ›

At the end of the Duolingo German tree, you will have learned approximately 2000 words, putting you somewhere around A2-B1 for listening and reading skills, using the CEFR levels (not quite intermediate).

Is C2 fluent or advanced? ›

A C2 Proficiency qualification shows the world that you have mastered English to an exceptional level. It proves you can communicate with the fluency and sophistication of a highly competent English speaker.

Is B2 enough for German taught program? ›

As a rule of thumb, German universities require you to present a proof of upper intermediate to advanced German language skills (level B2/C1) to study in German.

Is TELC easier than Goethe? ›

To make it short: there are no significant differences, as both – Goethe and telc – are recognized testing bodies. Just take the exam that suits you better in terms of testing dates and/or price (telc exams tend to be cheaper than the Goethe ones).

How many hours is A1 German Goethe? ›

The total duration of the language exam is 1 hour 15 minutes. The Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking sections are completed on the same day as the test. It is a 60 points examination and you must score 36 points (60%) to pass the Goethe's exam.

Can I learn A2 German in 2 months? ›

Absolutely not. Even if you stay in a German speaking country and you do a Super-intensiv course - 20 hours a week (Thats what you mean. Intensiv courses are 8–10 hrs a week), it is impossible to reach even level A2 from scratch, forget C2. Superintensiv course will take 2 months, while intensiv will take 4 months.

How many German words do you need to know for B2? ›

Reaching B2 is generally considered by most people as having basic fluency. You'll have a working vocabulary of around 4000 words.

How to go from B2 to C1 in German? ›

6 strategies to reach advanced German (B2-C1)
  1. Never learn German vocabulary that's irrelevant. ...
  2. Practice speaking with a native tutor. ...
  3. Use Heylama to build a vast & active vocabulary base. ...
  4. Learn what you would learn anyway, but in German. ...
  5. Create Tik Toks. ...
  6. Sign yourself up for a test.
Nov 10, 2021

How to get a C1 in German? ›

Goethe-Zertifikat C1
  1. prepare to study at a university or institution of higher education in Germany.
  2. demonstrate a very advanced knowledge of German for employment purposes.
  3. prepare to work in the medical sector.
  4. prove that you have successfully reached level C1.

Is getting B2 in German hard? ›

It is not at all difficult to pursue B2 level with graduation. I finished my C2 when I was in my second year of graduation. I used to take breaks for the courses only during my exam months and did not take admission during those times.

Is B2 German advanced or intermediate? ›

These levels are classified as A1 for beginners, A2 for elementary, B1 for intermediate, B2 for upper intermediate, C1 as advanced, and C2 as mastery.

Can I complete B2 German in 6 months? ›

You would on an average need 7-9 months to reach at B2 level and get good rating or they call it “Noten” . The real catch is how intensive are those months. How many hours you are putting every day, how much you are speaking, reading and writing.

Is German C1 exam hard? ›

There's no doubt that the C1 exam is difficult, but it's certainly not impossible. I'm someone who still makes grammar mistakes more frequently than I'd like, sometimes uses the wrong words and can't always find the right vocabulary, but, thanks to some good preparation, I managed to pass.

How long is German b2 valid? ›

Does the certificate/my exam expire? Goethe-Zertifikats A1 through C2 do not expire. Many institutions and employers, however, expect the certificate to be dated not more than two years ago.

How useful is German language? ›

German is an important language in academia

In fact, it ranks second as the most commonly used scientific language. One of the reasons for this is that the German book market is the third largest in the world, right after the Chinese and English publishing industries.

Can I learn German in 3 months? ›

You need more than 3 months to be fluent. But even with such a short time, if you adjust your strategy, you can actually learn German and get really close to being fluent. And I don't mean being able to say, 'I'm doing fine' in German as fast as a native speaker or being able to combine words you learned on Duolingo.

Can I learn German in 6 months? ›

The average language you need to know 2,000–3,000 words to be fluent. That not including grammar and idiums. Therefore if you wish to learn 2,500 words in 6 month (180 days) you need to learn about 14 words per day.

Is German very difficult to learn? ›

Yes and no. Compared to the very popular Romance language Spanish and French, German is regarded as hard to learn. But in truth, German is actually easier to learn than a lot of other languages. The answer truly lies somewhere in between.

Is it possible to learn German in a year? ›

Learning a new language can be accomplished in a relatively short time if you are taking individual classes. With three 60-minute courses per week, you might be able to learn German in one to two years.

What is the fastest way to learn Germany? ›

As with any language, the fastest and best way to learn German is through total immersion, preferably through living in a German-speaking country. If that's not possible, here are some other options: Learn the basics.

How long does it take to get B1 German? ›

How long does it take to learn German?
Assess your current level & test your German online!Intensive course (20 lessons/week)
A1beginner8 weeks
A2elementary8 weeks
B1intermediate8 weeks
B2upper intermediate10 weeks*
2 more rows

Can I learn B2 German in 5 months? ›

As you can see, rapid learning is undoubtedly doable even if you want to learn German from scratch to a B2 level in 5 months or faster. I have done it with dozens of students using the outlined strategy, and results are always great.

How many words do you need to know to be fluent in German? ›

In order to feel comfortable speaking German, you really only need to learn about 3,000 words. In contrast, being fluent in German is defined as understanding 10,000+ words.

Is German hard for Americans? ›

With plenty of straightforward rules, German is not actually as hard to learn as most people think. And since English and German stem from the same language family, you might actually be surprised at the things you pick up without even trying! And on top of it all, it's definitely a useful one, too.

What is the hardest part of learning German? ›

Because there are few pronunciation rules

Unlike English, for instance, where every word is pronounced in its own way or French, where to rules are so severe and dictations are done even in the most progressed course levels.

What is the hardest word to learn in German? ›

1. Eichhörnchen (Squirrel) Also a difficult one in English, this is a classic when it comes to difficult German words to pronounce.

Can I learn German B2 in 6 months? ›

And you can achieve B2 in 6 months time if you do all the homework, if you do at least 2 hours weekly with a Tutor . Can I finish A2, B1 and B2 German each in about 1 month? No. Don't believe anyone who says so, they either have romanticized ideas or something to gain.

What level is B2 German language? ›

The Goethe-Zertifikat B2 is a German exam for young people and adults. It certifies that candidates have acquired advanced language skills and corresponds to the fourth level (B2) of the six-level scale of competence laid down in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).


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