How Long Does It Take To Learn Chinese? 5 Huge Factors That Affect Your Learning

How Long Does It Take Learn Chinese - Ling

Have you wanted to learn Chinese for a long time? But you’re discouraged because the Chinese language is notorious for being very hard to learn? Let’s be honest, language learning has never been an easy skill that you can achieve overnight, and learning Chinese is no different. But all you have to do is start somewhere and be consistent, then the progress will follow.

Still, the question floating above the heads of all Chinese learners is: “how long does it take to learn Chinese?” That’s exactly what we’ll be answering in this blog post! Take a look at the topics we’ll cover below:

Page Contents:

Is Chinese Hard To Learn?

Of course, the level of difficulty changes based on your linguistic skills and familiarity with the Chinese language. Learning Chinese words, pronunciation, and grammar can be more challenging than most languages. We agree that it requires a lot of effort and time to learn Chinese, but there is nothing you can’t do as long as you dedicate yourself.

We have an entire blog post discussing whether Chinese is hard to learn. Check out our previous article to find the answer!

Now, let’s discuss some crucial factors in your language-learning process.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Chinese - Learn Chinese on tablet

5 Factors That Affect Your Language Learning Process

Here are five different factors that affect foreign language learning, Chinese in our case.

1. Your Native Language

If your native language is English or another European language, learning Chinese will take more time, since the two languages have nothing in common.

However, suppose your native language is another Asian language, or you happen to know an Asian language already, like Korean or Japanese. In that case, there is no doubt that you have a major advantage. You can learn Chinese faster and easier, since those languages share a lot of similarities.

2. Your Ultimate Goal

Every learner’s reason and goal are unique when it comes to learning Chinese, and your purpose is directly related to your study method and motivation. So, what’s your goal? Why do you want to learn Chinese?

Here are the possible goals of a Chinese learner:

  • To be able to get through an upcoming trip to China.
  • To be comfortable having everyday conversations in Chinese with friends and family.
  • To be able to read Chinese books.
  • To do business with Chinese companies or work in China.
  • To connect with Chinese people and culture.
  • To study Classical Chinese literature or history.

3. Your Study Method

Everyone is unique, and so is their studying method. You have to be aware of your learning type, strengths, and weaknesses. That way, you can build the ideal study strategy for yourself.

Knowing how you learn is best if you want to self-study and don’t want to spend a lot of money. The same applies to knowing your ultimate goal for learning Chinese, as it will guide you to build an effective and personalized study plan. You’ll know how much time you can spare to study different parts of the language, such as reading comprehension, vocabulary memorization, and pronunciation practice.

Or, you can always choose to sign up for an online Chinese course or hire a private Chinese tutor.

4. Dedication And Consistency

The key rule to learning a new language is consistency! It’s crucial, and I mean it. Studying Chinese for one hour every single day is much more effective than studying six hours on a random day and not studying again for a week. You should make language learning a part of your daily routine. Small steps every day!

5. The Environment

If you’re planning to move to China for work, study, or even just take a short trip, take advantage of the opportunity and talk to people as much as you can. Pay attention to the way they talk and never feel afraid to speak, even if you have limited proficiency.

But it’s okay if you can’t afford a trip to China; most of us can’t. If you can’t go to China, bring China to your place! That means immersing yourself in the Chinese language at home by interacting with authentic Chinese materials such as movies, podcasts, songs, books, etc.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Chinese - Chinese sentences on the black board

How Long Does It Take To Learn Chinese?

Alright, but how long does it really take to learn Chinese? According to the FSI (Foreign Service Institute), Chinese is a Category V language, which means it’s exceptionally difficult for native English speakers. It takes roughly 88 weeks to learn Chinese.

Chinese Language Proficiency Levels Based On HSK

What is HSK? HSK stands for “Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì,” and it is the official Chinese proficiency test. They classify Chinese language proficiency into five levels:

HSK LevelAbilityEstimated Learning Time
HSK 1You can understand and use simple Chinese characters and sentences to communicate with native speakers.2–3 lessons per week, for one semester.
HSK 2You can use Chinese in a simple and clear manner.2–3 lessons per week, for two semesters.
HSK 3You can use Chinese to serve the demands of your personal life, study, and work.2–3 lessons per week, for three semesters.
HSK 4You can talk about a relatively wide range of topics in Chinese.2–3 lessons per week, for four semesters.
HSK 5You can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, and watch Chinese movies.2–3 lessons per week, for more than 2 years.
HSK 6You can easily understand any information communicated in the Chinese language.2–3 lessons per week, for more than 2 years.

So according to the HSK levels, it takes more than two years to reach good fluency in Chinese.

How Many Chinese Words Do You Need To Know?

Each HSK level has different descriptions regarding your ability to express yourself and understand others in Chinese. One of the major differences among levels is the word count you need to know. We explained the requirements of each level in the table below. Let’s see what your HSK level is!

HSK LevelMust-Know WordsAbility
HSK 1150– You are familiar with everyday Chinese expressions and basic phrases.
– You can introduce yourself and answer personal questions in Chinese.
HSK 2300– You can understand topics such as local geography and employment.
– You can speak Chinese with others while doing simple tasks.
HSK 3600– You can talk about topics that are used in school, work, and leisure time.
– You can respond in Chinese in unexpected situations when traveling.
– You can relate topics of personal interest.
HSK 41200– You can understand advanced Chinese texts on both concrete and abstract topics.
– You can talk about technical topics in Chinese.
– You can have regular interactions with native Chinese speakers easily.
HSK 52500– You can understand difficult and long Chinese texts.
– You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously on social, academic, and professional occasions.
HSK 65000– You are proficient in reading, writing, and understanding Chinese.
– You can create summaries of information from different spoken and written Chinese sources in a relevant form.

If you’ve finally found the courage to start your Chinese-learning journey, Ling is a good start! Read below to get more information about what it is like to learn Chinese from scratch with Ling.

Start Learning Chinese Today With Ling!

If you want to learn Chinese or other 60+ languages offered in the app, Ling is here for you!

Learn Chinese - Ling

Ling provides access to over 60 languages, including Chinese! Download the app on your mobile device to instantly start learning Chinese and develop all your language skills in one place.

To quickly summarize what you can do with Ling: You can learn how to write Chinese characters, listen to native speakers, and repeat their pronunciation. You can also look at Chinese characters and hear their accents, do various mini-activities to learn vocabulary and sentences, and review what you have learned. Last but not least, you can practice your pronunciation and speaking skills by conversing with chatbots.

Plus, don’t forget to visit Ling’s Chinese blog weekly to learn more about Chinese culture and language!

Now you know why thousands of Chinese learners choose Ling to help them improve, so why not join them? Download the Ling app from Google Play Store and Apple App Store now, and start learning Chinese at your own pace!

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