This is a question I very often hear from my students. It is entirely normal and human to ask yourself (and me) such a question. However, there is no one answer to this question. I cannot tell you that it is going to take you one year, two years or ten years to learn Greek. Before I can do that, there are three important factors to consider, and which are different for each and every person. These factors must first be taken into consideration before we can say anything conclusive about how long it’s going to take you to learn Greek. In this article, I will discuss these 3 factors, and, in this way, I will try to help you answer this question for yourself.
1. It depends on the time you spend to Learn Greek
The first factor has to do with the amount of time you can devote to learning Greek. Can you do intensive Greek lessons online and study every day? If so, you will learn Greek much sooner than someone who has no time to study or do lessons. Also, when someone has the time to do Greek lessons every day or at least to study every day then he creates a momentum that will help him learn Greek even faster. On the other hand, if someone does lessons or studies Greek only once a week or once every two weeks, he fails to build up much momentum and often forgets what he has learned a short time later in the larger interval between lessons. I would, therefore, suggest making an intensive study of the Greek language for three months and then taking a short break, so that you have time to let everything you have learned sink in. After that, it is a very good idea to repeat this process.
2. It depends on your individual learning style
The second factor has to do with a talent for learning languages, which is different for each individual learner. Indeed, in my experience as a teacher of the Greek language to foreigners, I have come to the conclusion that each person is different, not only in the way he learns a language but also in his ability to learn and understand languages in general. For example, I have many students who understand all the terms I use very well and can create sentences very easily simply by linking together the information I give them. They also have no trouble remembering words and expressions that I use in talking to them and I am often lost in admiration at how easy it is for them. On the other hand, there are other people who don’t find it at all easy to understand the structure of the Greek language, probably because the structure of their native language, English, gets in the way. An example of this interference is the use of gender in Greek. Many students take a long time understanding that Greek nouns belong to one of three genders, in contrast to English where the gender of a noun is of little importance. This kind of interference from your native language is, of course, likely to adversely affect the speed with which you can learn Greek.
3. What do you mean when you say “I know Greek”?
The third factor is that inevitably what each person means when he says, “I know Greek.” is entirely different. Maybe for me “I know Greek” means that I can talk to someone on the street, ask for help and order from the menu in a taverna. For someone else, “I know Greek” can mean that he or she can discuss social and political problems, and for someone else, it may mean that they can understand what is being said in a TV series, on the news, and on the radio. As you see, you must first make it very clear to yourself exactly what YOU YOURSELF mean when you are ready to tell people that you “know Greek!”
After answering the above questions to your own satisfaction, then you’ll be in a better position to figure out how long it will take you to “learn Greek“. So now, take a closer look at the tables below.
A1 level (elementary knowledge) 100-120 hours of lessons
A2 level (basic knowledge) 120-180 hours of lessons
B1 level (medium knowledge) 180-250 hours of lessons
B2 level (good knowledge) 250-400 hours of lessons
C1 level (very good knowledge) 400 – 520 hours of lessons
C2 level (excellent knowledge) More than 650 hours of lessons
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However, we want to make it clear that the above figures are only meant to give you a rough idea of what amount of time you can expect it to take you to reach each level, and this will depend on the factors mentioned above, and will, in the end, determine whether you will be able to match these times or not. It might take you less time, just as much time or even longer doing it. Everybody’s different. It is also important to note that starting from level B1, the student really becomes much more independent and can begin to communicate without the help of a teacher or a dictionary.
I hope I have helped you answer this complex question for yourself and I hope that you now can figure out how much time it’s likely to take you to “learn Greek.”
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