How Long Does it Take to Speak Chinese Fluently

Posted by Lilian Li on 08/11/2015 11:54 PM 1001

how long does it take to speak Chinese fluently

It seems as though people gravitate toward one of two extremes when discussing the difficulty and time required to master Chinese. Either it really easy or horribly hard. It requires just weeks or decades of time to gain fluency.

Which is true?  The answer is probably found somewhere in the middle. An important distinction is to clearly define what is meant by “fluent”.

Here are some milestones to mark your fluency:
1 year to lie on your resume and hope no Chinese speaker interviews you for a job.
2-3 years for basic fluency, but with difficulty found in vocabulary.
3-5 years to feel comfortable in the language.

From my own teaching experience, learners with business purposes in China regard a one-year’s intensive study as a challenge; while others with higher and more specific demand in academic research or more professional field find it possible to become a fluent Chinese speaker within 2-3 years.

This is all very good news!

But let’s get back to you. In the first stage of learning, the problem that troubles almost every Chinese learner is that “I simply cannot tell the difference of the 5 tones!”

How can I speak correctly, let alone fluently? (Know more about Chinese Phonetics)

To answer these questions, we must acknowledge that “fluency” does not rel solely on the accuracy of tones. As a very active language, Chinese is used by billions of people with different education backgrounds and various accents to communicate.

When people start quoting very specific numbers of years, it’s important to realize that they might mean “learning casually for a few hours a week”. A year is not the same for a very lazy or a dedicated learner.

Years has little to do with it, it’s the number of HOURS of efficient learning or practice of 100% of your undivided attention that you put in. Dedicated learning with undivided attention and a commitment to getting better daily will help you quickly see improvement in your Mandarin. Well, if you think learn Chinese all by yourself is too hard and you want to make your learning more efficiently and make your learning period become shorter, you can have professional Chinese class with us. Register here and book a free trial class now!

About The Author

Lilian Li

Lilian has a master’s degree in linguistics and didactics from Rennes University in France. An expert in linguistics and educational psychology, she has taught Chinese as a foreign language for several years, primarily in France. Her classes follow a logical and thorough path to ensure students build a methodology of learning that will continue to help them improve their language ability. She likes jogging, swimming, partying, and hang out with friends! Learn Chinese online with Lilian Li >>