One of the questions I get most often about learning a new language is “how long will it take?” Unfortunately, the most honest answer is: it depends. And it does depend on a lot of factors:
One of the most cited estimations for the time it takes to learn a new language is from the U.S. government’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI). They found that for native English speakers to learn a new language (closely related to English) and reach a “general professional proficiency” took about 600 hours of classroom instruction. For the languages most different from English, achieving the same proficiency level took up to 2,200 hours, on average.
So, 600 hours. If you can only commit 30 minutes a day, that’s 1,200 days to “general professional proficiency” or over 3 years! I think that’s too long. But there’s good news!
Guided Immersion is a better use of your time for language learning.
What the FSI didn’t take into account is the efficiency of the language-learning system. Classroom language learning (like you experienced in high school) is one of the most inefficient ways to develop proficiency in a new language. That’s because it’s too focused on theory, instead of functional everyday words, phrases, and scenarios.
If classroom learning is the old-school gym workout, Guided Immersion is a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) program. That means you can drastically cut down the amount of time it takes to start speaking a language and to become proficient or even fluent.