How Long Does It Take To Learn Afrikaans?
With dedication and effort, most English speakers can become proficient in Afrikaans in about one year. That’s the short answer.
The longer answer to this question is that it depends on a number of factors, including your native language, your motivation for learning the language, and how much practice you get.
The FSI estimates that it takes between 600 – 750 class hours to reach a “general professional proficiency” in Dutch. But seeing as Afrikaans is a simplified version of Dutch, fewer hours would be required. Around 550 – 600 class hours should get you to conversational level in Afrikaans.
What factors influence the time it takes to learn?
Several factors can influence how long it takes to learn Afrikaans. These include:
Your native language
If you are a native English speaker, you will likely find Afrikaans easier to learn than many other European languages. This is because English and Afrikaans share many similarities in grammar and vocabulary.
Your motivation for learning the language
If you have a strong reason for wanting to learn Afrikaans, such as being interested in the culture or planning to live in an Afrikaans-speaking country, you will be more motivated to put in the time and effort required to reach proficiency.
How much time you have to practice
The more time you can dedicate to practising Afrikaans, the faster you will learn. If you can dedicate a couple of hours a day to your studies, you’ll see results quicker. Check out our post about how many hours a day you should study a language.
How much exposure to the language you get
As with time, the more exposure you have to Afrikaans, the quicker you’ll learn it. If you can find a way to use Afrikaans in your everyday life, whether listening, speaking, watching or reading, you’ll learn it much faster.
What resources you use
Your choice of resources plays a huge part in how long it will take you to learn Afrikaans. Not all learning materials are created equal. You could find yourself spending months learning Afrikaans vocabulary and grammar from a textbook, yet discover that you can’t speak a word of the language.
Your knowledge of grammar
If your knowledge of grammar in your own language is good, you’ll pick up Afrikaans grammar pretty quickly, as the grammatical terms you encounter won’t be alien to you. However, if you’re not confident with grammar, it’ll take a bit longer to get to grips with the new concepts.
Your experience with language learning
If you’ve learned multiple languages, you’ll find it easier to learn Afrikaans than someone who is learning a new language for the first time. This is because you already know how to learn and what the most effective methods are. You’ll be familiar with the processes and challenges involved.
If you know Dutch or German, will this reduce the time it takes to learn Afrikaans?
If you already know some Dutch or German, you will have a head start in learning Afrikaans. This is because these languages, along with English, all belong to the same language family – West Germanic. This means that they share many similarities in grammar and vocabulary.
Dutch, as you may already know, shares about 90-95% lexical similarity with Afrikaans, making the two languages mutually intelligible.
Thus, knowing Dutch or German will certainly make it easier to learn Afrikaans, and you will likely reach proficiency faster than someone who does not know any West Germanic languages.
What other ways can you reduce the time?
There are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of time it takes to learn Afrikaans:
- Find a native Afrikaans language partner
- Watch native Afrikaans-language TV and movies
- Listen to Afrikaans-language songs
- Memorize common Afrikaans phrases and expressions
- Read Afrikaans children’s books and books for beginners
- Study Afrikaans for longer than an hour a day
Our post How to Learn Afrikaans Quickly: 10 Tips to Learn Faster talks about this stuff in more detail.