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VictoriaWrites
10-22-2011, 01:15 AM
Basically what it says.

My MC has been transplanted from her homeland. Only her sister, her mother, her stepfather, and a friend speak the same language as her. The stepfather will soon be out of the picture, and the friend is actively teaching her the language of her new home. She knows a few words, but not enough to really understand or communicate.

She is also living with a stepbrother and stepsister who don't speak her language.

When my MC needs it, her sister can act as translator. The sister is effectively fluent in the language, but isn't patient enough to teach the MC.

Reading and writing is not an issue, as my MC is not literate even in her own language.

Thanks in advance. :)

Siri Kirpal
10-22-2011, 02:17 AM
Basically what it says.

My MC has been transplanted from her homeland. Only her sister, her mother, her stepfather, and a friend speak the same language as her. The stepfather will soon be out of the picture, and the friend is actively teaching her the language of her new home. She knows a few words, but not enough to really understand or communicate.

She is also living with a stepbrother and stepsister who don't speak her language.

When my MC needs it, her sister can act as translator. The sister is effectively fluent in the language, but isn't patient enough to teach the MC.

Reading and writing is not an issue, as my MC is not literate even in her own language.

Thanks in advance. :)

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

How old is your MC? If she's 13 or under, she'll probably pick it up fairly quickly. If she's a bit older, it will take longer. If she's elderly (which doesn't sound like the case), she may never learn it at all.

And what are the stakes? If she wants to communitcate with her siblings, she'll learn faster. If there's a guy she's crazy about, she'll learn it like lightening!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Drachen Jager
10-22-2011, 02:19 AM
How old is she? Kids can become semi-fluent within months, fully fluent within a year. Older people often don't adapt to a new language at all.

If she's young, smart and motivated I'd say she'd be able to get by within weeks, hold simple conversations after a month or two, manage most situations by six months and be considered fluent in about year. There's no better way to learn a language than being thrown in at the deep end.

Zelenka
10-22-2011, 02:36 AM
It depends on her age, as folks have said, and also her ability - some people have more of a knack for picking up languages. I know some people who've been living here in the Czech Republic for seven, eight years, in one case even twenty years, who still speak little to no Czech. There may be an element of not wanting to learn in those cases though, as that seems, unfortunately, to be a prevalent attitude amongst a lot of expats here.

Me, I knew a few words within the first few weeks. I've been here now two months, having studied very little Czech beforehand, and I can hold basic conversations, understand a fair bit of what's said to me - if I don't know the exact word for word translation of what they said, I pick up the main points and the gist of it, especially in familiar situations where I can kind of 'predict' the sort of phrases or words that might come up. Sometimes though I just don't have a clue! I'm 32, but then I also have always had an ability to pick up languages quickly, so that has helped compensate for the fact I'm older.

jmlee
10-22-2011, 02:54 AM
It also depends on if she already speaks more than one language. Kids who are natively bilingual before the critical age tend to pick up languages after the critical period better than those who grew up monolingually.

LJD
10-22-2011, 03:03 AM
Depending on her aptitude for languages and how much she wants to learn it and how much she needs to learn it to get by, I think her language skills would be reasonably good within a year. It also may depend somewhat on the similiarities between the two languages.

But, to give you an idea of how much this can vary:
My mom: Canadian born, but spoke Chinese (Toisan) at home as a kid and was sent to kindergarten knowing her name and phone number only in English. But was fluent within months. Young children can pick it up quickly.

My grandma: came to Canada in her twenties. Now in her seventies. Speaks very little English. (Can't really blame it on being isolated in the Chinese community either because for 30 years she was in a city that was historically German and the Chinese community was very small) Not entirely sure how much she can understand. But I can't really converse with her.

My grandpa: came to Canada in his twenties. Took some English classes here. Speaks reasonably good, but not perfect, English. If he hadn't spent his entire career working as a cook in a Chinese restaurant (where I assume he never spoke English), I think his English would be perfect.

Drachen Jager
10-22-2011, 03:07 AM
It also depends on if she already speaks more than one language. Kids who are natively bilingual before the critical age tend to pick up languages after the critical period better than those who grew up monolingually.

That's the old school of thought. Currently no proof has been offered to that effect, and in fact it doesn't appear that it really matters.

What is important is language proficiency, even if it's only in your native tongue.

Richard White
10-22-2011, 03:44 AM
When I was studying Czech at the Defense Language Institute, I was doing six hours a day for five days a week (not counting homework). The course was 47 weeks long.

The Arabic course I took two years later was 63 weeks long, but that included an 16 week course in Syrian Dialect.

I'm still semi-fluent in Cesky (can't do the dicriticals here). I can do passably as long as I have my dictionary handy and I learned it back in 1984. Arabic and I are not so friendly. I think I recall maybe six or seven phrases and I really had no business passing the test.

Now, I tried learning these languages at 25 and 28, so your character's mileage may vary.

Oh, and Zelenka . . . "Dobre' vecer. Jak se mate?"

VictoriaWrites
10-22-2011, 03:57 AM
Thanks for the input, everyone!

In answer to your questions, she is 15. After her stepfather leaves, she'll be motivated to learn the language by the need to keep peace in the house. She also is motivated by feeling ignored in social situations- being basically relegated to a corner and expected to smile and nod politely.

Since this is a fantasy and neither of these languages technically exists, I'll need to decide how similar they are.

Vengeful Strumpet
10-22-2011, 03:58 AM
It depends on a lot. I was brought up in Turkey and learnt to speak it (along with little snippets of Kurdish) within a few months. I've also taught myself passable Swedish and Japanese. Swedish took me about half a year to learn the basics, maybe about a year to get good at it and I've only been learning Japanese for a few months and I can hold conversations with Japanese people I know.
She'll probably pick it up quite quickly, maybe a matter of months, since most learn through complete immersion in a new country/culture. Some people also learn quicker than others.

VictoriaWrites
10-22-2011, 04:01 AM
Most of you seem to be confirming what I was already thinking: in most cases, complete immersion like this is the quickest way to learn a language.

Zelenka
10-22-2011, 04:48 AM
Most of you seem to be confirming what I was already thinking: in most cases, complete immersion like this is the quickest way to learn a language.

That was always my theory, hence the reason I'm here now. Chose the Czech Republic partially because Czech wasn't a language I'd studied before, and I wanted to do the immersion thing. It's amazing what you pick up without even realising.

Richard White - Je mi dobře, děkuju! Dobrư večer!

Buffysquirrel
10-22-2011, 04:32 PM
Yes, similarity of the languages will be important. I often annoy my husband with close-enough guesses at Romance languages I've never learnt, like Italian and Spanish.

frimble3
10-22-2011, 05:34 PM
And, how much she's out and about. If, for instance, she stays in the home, taking care of housework, etc, basically only seeing the sister and the mother, and the friend, who may be teaching her, but understands when she speaks her native language, she'll learn a lot more slowly than if she has to get a job, and is surrounded by people who speak the new language.

VictoriaWrites
10-22-2011, 09:39 PM
And, how much she's out and about. If, for instance, she stays in the home, taking care of housework, etc, basically only seeing the sister and the mother, and the friend, who may be teaching her, but understands when she speaks her native language, she'll learn a lot more slowly than if she has to get a job, and is surrounded by people who speak the new language.

Another thing to think about. Thanks for the input! :)

Witch_turtle
10-23-2011, 03:48 AM
This is semi-related...My boyfriend is Russian and moved to Canada with his family when he was about 7. Went to school not speaking a word of English, not even knowing the English alphabet. When he was given an assignment he copied the "little squiggles" off the person next to him...such a cute story.

Overall he says he mainly learned English by watching television. You said yours is a fantasy world, so that may not apply, depending on the time period it's based off of. But if there's a supply of books your MC could use those in a similar way to learn. But yeah, like everyone else said, immersion will be the main factor. :)

Lehcarjt
10-23-2011, 06:14 AM
I have a terrible time with languages (really, I do). It took me six months to get to a point where I was conversational in Spanish while living in the Canary Islands. Which means I could get my point across (with errors involved, but everyone knew what I was saying), understand 75% of what was said, and read just about anything. I was 21 when I lived there.

stray
10-23-2011, 06:41 AM
I learnt to speak a little germanic and latin-based languages whilst at school. But here where I live in Thailand it has taken me ten years to become fluent - mainly because I could never get my head around the reading and writing side of it.

There was a great scene in a book called The Western Lands where the prog buys two books. One in his native tongue and the other in the new language and he sits down and reads them both at the same time. Line by line. Sentence by sentence. He walked away with a good grounding in the language.

I believe that total immersion is an important part of learning a language but it is useless without a bilengual teacher at some stage. You need somebody that can tell you what stuff means. But most of all you have to learn to read the language.

I think with a teacher, immersion, and books the character could be reasonably comfortable with a new language in three months.

PorterStarrByrd
10-23-2011, 06:47 AM
When I was studying Czech at the Defense Language Institute, I was doing six hours a day for five days a week (not counting homework). The course was 47 weeks long.

The Arabic course I took two years later was 63 weeks long, but that included an 16 week course in Syrian Dialect.

I'm still semi-fluent in Cesky (can't do the dicriticals here). I can do passably as long as I have my dictionary handy and I learned it back in 1984. Arabic and I are not so friendly. I think I recall maybe six or seven phrases and I really had no business passing the test.

Now, I tried learning these languages at 25 and 28, so your character's mileage may vary.

Oh, and Zelenka . . . "Dobre' vecer. Jak se mate?"

Thanks for saving me a lot of typing ... from what I saw when my daughter was there pretty much every language, in full emersion, taught by native speakers is very close to a year, many longer.

You can learn essential words and phrases much more quickly but detailed conversation is a long term project.

igpay atinlay isay uchmay ickerquay

VictoriaWrites
10-23-2011, 08:19 AM
I think with a teacher, immersion, and books the character could be reasonably comfortable with a new language in three months.

Well, she has a teacher and immersion.

It's a fantasy and she's from a low-class background, so she can't read. There's no reason she would have needed to learn in her former life.

I guess she'll manage with 2 out of 3.

Thanks for the replies. :)

Smiling Ted
10-23-2011, 11:04 AM
One of the interesting aspects of immersion that hasn't been mentioned:

It is the quickest way to learn a language.
But if it isn't supported by other methods, it's also the method that will fade the fastest if the subject is taken out of his/her immersion setting. Easy come, easy go.

Snitchcat
10-23-2011, 12:39 PM
Just adding:

Immersed in the Language & Time
If you're immersed in the language, and you're forced to interact, it doesn't take long to pick up a basic functional vocabulary. You an, essentially, become well-versed enough within 3 months to hold a basic to medium-difficulty conversation.

It takes around a year to pick up the most common idioms, phrasing and vocabulary for advanced conversations. And it's a life-long learning project to become as close to native as possible.

Trick is, as Smiling Ted mentioned, is to keep practicing it. Even within an immersed environment, if you stop practicing, whatever has been learned will fade back to any basics that may have been retained in your long-term memory.

Proficiency in Learned vs. Retainment of Native
Also, something else to consider: the more proficient you become in the second language, the more your advanced use / extended vocabulary in your first fades. You won't lose your first, but it won't be as advanced as if you'd remained in that environment.

And during learning, you'll encounter huge frustrations after the initial three months of getting to know the basics. This is usually due to being on the edge of understanding more than you can speak.

Learning Curves
Progress in the second language also depends on your thought processes: how similar is the new language to your first? For example, if your native language is English and your learned is French, you should be able to pick up the latter pretty fast. On the other hand, if your learned is Chinese, it'll be a steeper, longer learning curve thanks to the difference in sentence structure, expression and mindset.

Social Circles & Vocabulary
Much of the vocabulary you'd pick up while learning the second language is very dependent on who you associate with:

Those who are educated tend to use extended vocabulary, but manage to express themselves so simply it makes them appear sophisticated or extremely advanced to the learner. Also, educated speakers would likely use vocabulary correctly. And while they know the slang and foul language, don't really use either.

If you hang around those at the other end of the spectrum, you may end up with an overwhelming repository of swear words. Other terms may or may not be appropriately used, or may be used wrongly. It will be blunt, almost rude.

And for both types of social circles, and those between, you might end up unconsciously emulating their attitudes, beliefs, social mores, etc. These influences will impact the way you see the second language and how you learn it.

Other Considerations
As an example, English is a phonetic language. Even if you don't know the word, you can figure out meaning from context and be able to repeat the sound. It also helps if you, for instance, point to an object and name it, e.g., "me", "you" and "that rock".

It might be something else to note, too, that English doesn't really distinguish between formal and informal vocabulary when spoken. Except when you're in various situations, some of which, make it obvious, e.g., slang vs. no slang.

On the flip side, you have ideographic languages whose advanced levels come mainly with knowing the written side. However, you can still do the "point and name it" thing, if you intend to remain at the basic level. But, how much of a distinction between formal and informal language is made in the learned language? Again, for example, in Cantonese, formal language can be very different to informal language to the learner. Almost another language. This is largely thanks to the vocabulary used, even just passed basic level.

Conclusion
So, all these factors and a great many more will impact your learning speed. If you're thrown in at the deep end, you'll either swim or sink. If you have a safety-line, e.g., someone who can act as translator, you'll end up progressing either very slowly or not at all.

Btw, have you watched The Thirteenth Warrior? Antonio Banderas plays a warrior that doesn't know his companions' language and is forced to try and learn.

VictoriaWrites
10-24-2011, 03:13 AM
Ted- The move is a permanent one. She has no reason to return to her home country.

Snitchcat- Thanks! Now I just need to look up The Thirteenth Warrior... :)

Debbie V
10-24-2011, 10:57 PM
When I studied for my Master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, they taught us it takes one to three years to learn a language to conversational fluency. that seems to be born out by the comments above. It takes five to seven to learn it to academic fluency.

All of the factors mentioned above count except age (knowledge of native language, need to know, desire to know, opportunity for exposure.) It is possible to have a primitive conversation before fluency is reached.

Carmy
10-26-2011, 12:49 AM
Butting in with something I didn't see mentioned - it all depends on how readily she accepts her new country.

I moved here from the UK and I mix with almost every nationality there is on a daily basis. I've noticed that some people who have been here for years speak very little English, the dominant language in this part of Canada. Others pick it up fast. It has nothing to do with education but everything to do with acceptance.

If your MC has heard of her new country and likes what she's heard, she will probably be willing to blend in.

I hope that helps.

VictoriaWrites
10-26-2011, 02:37 AM
Butting in with something I didn't see mentioned - it all depends on how readily she accepts her new country.

I moved here from the UK and I mix with almost every nationality there is on a daily basis. I've noticed that some people who have been here for years speak very little English, the dominant language in this part of Canada. Others pick it up fast. It has nothing to do with education but everything to do with acceptance.

If your MC has heard of her new country and likes what she's heard, she will probably be willing to blend in.

I hope that helps.

Another good point. :) Thanks!

Zelenka
10-26-2011, 02:42 AM
Butting in with something I didn't see mentioned - it all depends on how readily she accepts her new country.

I moved here from the UK and I mix with almost every nationality there is on a daily basis. I've noticed that some people who have been here for years speak very little English, the dominant language in this part of Canada. Others pick it up fast. It has nothing to do with education but everything to do with acceptance.

If your MC has heard of her new country and likes what she's heard, she will probably be willing to blend in.

I hope that helps.

That's exactly what I've found here, as I said in my post. Some people are dead set against learning the local language. The expat community here in Prague is particularly bad, and it stems from a kind of superiority complex a lot of UK and US expats have, that they're like colonial masters living in a backwards little state. Really annoys me. They refuse to learn Czech because (and I've heard this actually said many times) the Czechs should learn English.

So yeah, if there's maybe some animosity between the MC's native country and the country she finds herself in, it's possible she might be set against learning the language, like refusing to fit in.

Brutal Mustang
10-26-2011, 03:20 AM
Kids who are natively bilingual before the critical age tend to pick up languages after the critical period better than those who grew up monolingually.

I think there's truth to that. I became bilingual when I was a kid. Now I'm in my thirties, and it's easy for me to pick up new languages, compared to other people my age. Oh, and I seriously doubt I'm a lingual genius or anything. Simply seems like my brain has been forced to work differently from a young age.

Summerwriter
10-26-2011, 08:34 AM
I am not sure if this is any help, but I tell you this anyway. I am Finnish, who speaks English. My first touch to English was at school. I was 9 back then. I tried to use the little I could since day 1. Now many people say 'You speak so well! Are you American?' and I always say 'No, I'm Finnish'. I use the language, and even I will never reach the native's level, I think I am pretty satisfied about what I can say in English. My French and Swedish are so rusty I think I couldn't return them, at least not my French. But maybe I could return my Swedish. I still understand some things, but I think I need Finnish translation just to be sure I get it right.
I don't know if this helps you any, but this is from real life. Use it or lose it. That's the way it is, and even I speak English, I have not lost my Finnish, at least not yet.

Zelenka
10-26-2011, 09:53 AM
I am not sure if this is any help, but I tell you this anyway. I am Finnish, who speaks English. My first touch to English was at school. I was 9 back then. I tried to use the little I could since day 1. Now many people say 'You speak so well! Are you American?' and I always say 'No, I'm Finnish'. I use the language, and even I will never reach the native's level, I think I am pretty satisfied about what I can say in English. My French and Swedish are so rusty I think I couldn't return them, at least not my French. But maybe I could return my Swedish. I still understand some things, but I think I need Finnish translation just to be sure I get it right.
I don't know if this helps you any, but this is from real life. Use it or lose it. That's the way it is, and even I speak English, I have not lost my Finnish, at least not yet.

Hey Summerwriter,
One of my friends is Finnish and when we first met, I honestly thought he was either Irish or from the Highlands or Islands of Scotland from his accent - his English was that good. But he said that because he really only used English, very rarely Swedish and only occasionally Finnish when he spoke to his family back home, he was really starting to lose it, to the point where if we asked him how to say stuff he had to think for a long while. So you're totally right, if you don't use it you lose it (as is fast becoming the case with my French).

blacbird
10-26-2011, 10:13 AM
Less time than it takes to learn how to operate my new TV remote.

caw

shaldna
10-26-2011, 02:16 PM
It depends. I mean, kids learn to speak fluently in less than 2 years, so if you are young you pick language up quickly. Also, if you are speaking it all the time then you will learn faster.

Some people take longer.

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-26-2011, 06:48 PM
She can get rudimentary survival skills in a few weeks with the super-secret method I used in ESL classes. She's basically in a Berlitz total immersion course.

Learn how to say "I do not speak ____, I speak ____." (I know how to say this in about 10 languages)
Learn how to call emergency services.

Concentrate on learning names of important things to her environment.
Learn please, thank you, yes, no, when is and where is
Learn the numbers up to 20 or so
Learn the time system

Then you can go into a restaurant and say "Hamburger, please" then thank the waiter, ... go to a ticket booth and say "3 adult please", go to a grovery and say "Where is milk?"

And watch TV or movies as much as you can so the "feel" of the language soaks in.

eventidepress
10-26-2011, 08:26 PM
I think there's truth to that. I became bilingual when I was a kid. Now I'm in my thirties, and it's easy for me to pick up new languages, compared to other people my age. Oh, and I seriously doubt I'm a lingual genius or anything. Simply seems like my brain has been forced to work differently from a young age.

There's been a lot of linguistic studies on that -- and if I'm remembering correctly, they did find a high correlation between kids raised bilingual and the ability to pick up new, completely unrelated languages, much faster than kids raised speaking only one language. Coolness :)

VictoriaWrites
10-27-2011, 01:32 AM
Thanks for your input, everyone. You've all been super helpful. :)

CEtchison
10-27-2011, 02:15 AM
The foreign exchange program I traveled with in high school stated that speaking fluency was often achieved within six months. We were told that once you dream in your new language, you are fluent. Students would always compare how long they lived in a new country before they had "the dream". :)

emmawhy
11-21-2011, 10:24 PM
I think it would take at least a year to get to a nice comfortable level with the language unless it was the only language/main language you were being exposed to anyway. Rosetta Stone, a learn language course provider (Are meant to be very good but expensive) claim it will take 4-6 months to get to an acceptable level of proficiency in speaking the language.

Snick
11-22-2011, 12:16 AM
There are some people who learn languages very quickly, but you shouldn't let it be an issue. G. M. Fraser asserted that Flashman learn languages quickly and had him fluent whenever he wanted it. Just say that she had a facility for languages.

Zelenka
11-22-2011, 12:23 AM
I think it would take at least a year to get to a nice comfortable level with the language unless it was the only language/main language you were being exposed to anyway. Rosetta Stone, a learn language course provider (Are meant to be very good but expensive) claim it will take 4-6 months to get to an acceptable level of proficiency in speaking the language.

I've never been that impressed with Rosetta Stone. It's very slow going, good for vocabulary building but not for conversation or grammar. What I ended up doing was using it in conjunction with other courses, but then just ditched it all together. They also need to update their pictures - for a lot of the tests you have to click on the picture the speaker describes, and it's really hard to tell what some of them are supposed to be. They look like the stuff you get on free clipart/photo CDs from the late 90s.

Personally, I prefer Pimsleur because it really does help with the structure of the language and gives you a skeleton to hang other words onto and build from, but they too are expensive, and different methods work for different people.

The Grift
11-22-2011, 07:36 PM
http://www.fluentin3months.com/

This guy has built a blog around the idea that anyone can learn any language to conversational level in 3 months primarily by refusing to speak anything else. He has his detractors, but so does everyone. I thought of him because he too had the experience with the ex-pat community in the Czech Republic. He thinks these people don't know Czech after 20 years because they allow themselves to use English all day everyday.

It sounds like your character would be in a situation where she would have to speak the local language. As a previous poster noted, at first the idea is just to be understood. Conjugation, grammar, genders, etc, can all come later.

Zelenka
11-23-2011, 12:42 AM
That's the exact method I've been using since I got to CZ and I also agree on the expat thing. Must check out that blog, sounds like I may become a fan!

Overmuzed
12-11-2011, 05:18 AM
Took me about five years to reasonably speak in English (since being transplanted, LOL). I've read a lot of books though. I have been in this country (U.S.) for almost twenty years, and still, people in a grocery store ask "where are you from..." - damn accent is very hard to overcome.

JSDR
12-11-2011, 06:51 AM
From my own experience trying to learn new languages:

Background - I grew up speaking two dialects (mum and dad's) at home, and learned English at school and from my grandfather before I was five.

When I was learning French in HS, the first thing I noticed was that it was a lot easier to understand things in French, than it was to speak it. Speaking it became easier to do with other people who spoke French, than when someone asked me to say something in French.
Only when I went to France and was forced to speak only French (by my own stubborn need to show my respect to French merchants) did I realize how much French I actually knew how to speak!

Also, the best way to learn a new language, for me, was to think in it. Not formulate a thought in English then translate it into French, but to actually go about my day thinking in French, calling things by their French names, etc.

ETA: It took 1 year of HS French to be able to haggle, make small talk (to the point of being offered free food at homey restaurants!), and understand most people. I was 16 at the time.

Richard White
12-11-2011, 10:44 AM
Normally:
Reading is easier than writing a new foreign language.
Listening is easier than speaking.

Reading/Listening is passive. Writing/Speaking is active.

Or, so my experiences have been.

talkwrite
12-17-2011, 03:44 AM
I am at the far end of language development. I have learned five languages, two without the benefit of living the the countries where that language is spoken. But I figured out the process of learning a language so that the idea of studying Mandarin Chinese while in Texas was not far fetched. So you need to be accustomed to the process of becoming fluent in another language and mirror your communication efforts in that other language. You also have to look at your motivation for learning it- this will erase the fear or blockades to speaking comfortably and developing fluency. The thrird factor is knowing the level you want to be able to communicate in that language. Then it is easy to learn a language.
I work as a professional interpreter in the US judicial system and my fluency is qualified, tested, evaluated and on top of that I am put under oath that I will interpret accurately. And yet we veteran interpreters all face the distinctive ways that people speak; thus we are always learning new terminology and expressions. So I learn new words every day. And I just decided to learn Quiche after seeing so many requests in Immigration court. Also the language fascinates me. Wish me luck.

jaksen
12-17-2011, 04:13 AM
I learned passable, speakable (I make up my own words) German in one, six-week summer course. But that's all I did. I took class for four hours in the morning and then worked on German vocabulary, grammar, reading and translation for the entire rest of the day. I drove my family crazy. I read-read-read and translated-translated-translated. The German dictionary was literally with me all the time, and even beside my bed at night.

The instructor told us when we could think and dream in a new language, then it was ours. I got to that point within that six-week period.

Unfortunately, over the last many years I have lost a lot of what I knew - but when I hear or read German expressions much of it comes back. Like it's there and I barely know it.

But to answer the question, if you totally immerse yourself in a new language and are fully committed to learning it, six weeks. I used no special tapes or PC programs. (This was in the 1970's.)

I was twenty years old at the time and came from a family which spoke only English.