Official French educational institutions, such as the French Ministry of Education, Alliance Française, and French Institutes, follow the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for language proficiency. Drawing on these institutions’ recommendations, let’s explore the estimated study hours needed to reach each CEFR level and how long it takes to actually learn French.
CEFR Levels Explained
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) framework outlines what learners can do at various stages of their language education, from A1 (beginner) to C2 (mastery).
- A1 & A2 (Beginner): Basic communication and comprehension skills for everyday situations.
- B1 & B2 (Intermediate): Ability to understand and express oneself in most situations, with more significant independence.
- C1 & C2 (Advanced): Mastery of the language, allowing for complex, nuanced communication and understanding.
We explain each level in detail in this article: https://gogofrance.com/en/blog/cefr-levels-explained/
Study Hours and Progression Timeline
Assuming a standard study plan involving 20 lessons per week, with each lesson lasting 45 to 50 minutes, here is an estimate of the study hours needed to progress through the CEFR level:
- A1: 60–100 hours of study, equating to 4 to 7 weeks.
- A2: 160–200 hours, translating to approximately 11 to 13 weeks.
- B1: 360–400 hours, or about 24 to 27 weeks.
- B2: 560–650 hours, which would take roughly 37 to 43 weeks.
- C1: 800–950 hours, amounting to 53 to 63 weeks.
- C2: 1000–1200 hours, requiring over 66 to 80 weeks.
The hours needed to learn French and reach various levels of proficiency as outlined by the CEFR are cumulative. This means that each level builds on the hours spent learning the previous level. For example, if it takes 60-100 hours to reach A1 level, and then an additional 100-160 hours to progress to A2, the total time spent learning to reach A2 would be the sum of the hours for A1 and A2.
We All Have Different Goals
The journey to fluency varies depending on your goals, such as mastering business French, moving on to higher education, socializing with native speakers, making new friends, or enjoying French literature, for example.
Mastering Business French
Business French demands a command of specialized vocabulary and cultural nuances critical for professional interactions. For those starting with a basic level of French, achieving proficiency in business French can take an additional 200-300 hours of focused study on top of reaching a B2~C1 level. This includes understanding formal communication, negotiation phrases, and industry-specific terminology.
Moving on to Higher Education
International students aspiring to study in France must demonstrate a proficiency level of B2 to C1 to enroll in most programs. Achieving these levels requires 560 to 650 hours for B2 and 800 to 950 hours for C1. However, depending on the major you are targeting, you may need to spend extra time mastering specific specialized vocabulary.
Socializing with Natives and Making New Friends
If your goal is to learn casual French, engage in everyday conversations, and form friendships with French native speakers, reaching a very high proficiency level in French is not necessarily required. Typically, an A2 level is sufficient. To start making new friends, you don’t need to speak a lot of French—just master the basics, try your best, and remember to greet people. Many French people and students, just like you, will be happy to get to know you and learn about your culture.
Reading Your First French Book
For many students learning French, reading a book in French is a milestone that signifies a deeper understanding of the language. Beginners can start with children’s books or simplified novels within 100-200 hours of study (A2 level) and progress to more complex texts as they advance.
Maximizing Learning Efficiency
French educational institutions stress the importance of immersive learning. Engaging with French culture through media, literature, and daily conversation enriches the learning process and accelerates progress. This holistic approach not only improves language skills but also deepens understanding of French culture, an invaluable asset for students planning to study in France.
Go! Go! France can help you learn French in France. Contact us to get your life and study in France journey started.
Learn French at Your Own Pace
In conclusion, mastering the French language opens up a world of opportunities, from deepening cultural understanding to expanding professional horizons. Whether you aim for fluency or simply wish to engage in basic conversations, the journey is highly personal and adaptable to your individual pace and goals.
Remember, the key to success lies in consistent practice, immersion in the language, and a willingness to embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. By setting realistic milestones and celebrating each achievement, you’ll find that learning French no longer seems like the insurmountable mountain you initially imagined. Courage!