How much of a new language can you really learn in 1 month?

Camille Studying Italian

Our friend was learning Spanish on Duolingo and she told Calvin and I that we should learn a new language so she could have some competition. We laughed about it but then thought, “why don’t we?” We both had written down learning another foreign language on our dream list earlier in the year. We just thought it would be later down the road, and in the country that the language was spoken. Calvin suggested we study in the evenings after the kids go to sleep (which is 6:30pm) and at first I was like no way.

I am usually so tired in the evenings and I look forward to mindlessly looking on social media or watching my hallmark movies, but I decided to give it a go anyways. Here’s what I did and what has happened in one month’s time.

I knew it would be different this time around. When we learned Spanish we:

  1. Didn’t have any kids.
  2. Went to Mexico.
  3. Did 3 months of formal training with a private teacher.
  4. Actually personally knew quite a few Spanish speakers.
  5. Went on to live in Spain for 2 years.

This time we:

  1. Have 2 kids.
  2. Are in Hawaii—12 time zones away from Italy.
  3. Are doing it on our own. (Me studying Italian and Calvin Portuguese).
  4. I didn’t personally know any Italians. (Now I have met one here in Kona). We know a lot of people that speak Portuguese.
  5. We don’t have any plans to move to Italy or Portugal/Brazil.

With Spanish as our first foreign language and both languages falling under the romance category (meaning there would be similarities from the Latin roots (what Rome spoke, hence Romance Languages), we set out on our journey.

Latin Language Tree
Romance (Latin) Language Tree

Here is a bit of my process:

        1. I started out with Duolingo and went through the entire program in the first two weeks. Duolingo was very repetitive so I learned a lot of new words, sentence structure, pronunciation and listening skills. I was pretty addicted as it’s a competitive game as well.
        2. Along with Duolingo I listened to a “Earworms: Rapid Italian” 3 hour audiobook set to music and with lots of repetition when I went walking. I also watched lots of Youtube videos finding Weilà Tom, Italiano Automatico, and Italian Made Easy. All incredible and extremely helpful.
        3. I quickly realized I wanted a grammar book to help me so I found one on Amazon called Italian Demystified and focused on that in the last two weeks doing more than half of the book. It was full of explanations, exercises and even tests at the end of each chapter.
        4. I also started listening to Pimsleur Italian on my walks since my audiobook had finished.
        5. I had also messaged the only girl I knew that spoke Italian as a second language, and quite well since she had lived in Italy and I asked her if I could message her to practice. We began sending short messages every other day which was very helpful. I had to use google translate for almost everything. She also recommended that I watch tv shows and listen to music. I watched a season of a dubbed tv show on Netflix and found Marco Mengoni (seriously so good).

      1. I discovered the app “HelloTalk” which is so fabulous.
        italian convo on HelloTalk App
        Conversing with an Italian

        You create a short profile and can basically text back and forth with people that are trying to learn your language and you theirs. However you can correct each other when you say it wrong. I am pretty much corrected every other sentence! But I am learning. In a sense you learn better when you are corrected because you remember the right way to say it the next time.

      2. About four weeks in, I found out there is a cafe 15 minutes down the road with an Italian owner! Nervous as could be I planned a morning where I could go, hoping to catch her to try to chat. She was there and it was a pretty rough first conversation in Italian. I accidentally kept saying Spanish words and thinking in Spanish. However she was so encouraging and couldn’t believe I had only been studying for 4 weeks. She told me I can go by and practice (which I plan to do).

      They say it takes about 480 hours to reach basic fluency in a level 1 language such as Italian. So at an hour a day that’s 1.5 years. I honestly don’t want to wait that long so in my first month I averaged 3 hours a day, hoping to get there in 6 months instead. It sounds like a ton of time but it’s so possible. 99% of my social life is play/lunch dates in the day so every evening except 2 in the month, I studied 2+ hours. I also would do 30-45 minutes of listening/talking on my morning walks and then sometimes be able to squeeze in a bit of studying when Ivory napped.

      My life went on as normal except my time on social media was cut to a maximum of 10 minutes a day. I discovered quickly that 10 minutes a day was more than enough for me. Anytime I would want to go on my phone to scroll instagram, I would do an Italian Duolingo lesson instead.

      I have dreamt in Italian and often I drift off to sleep thinking how to say different things in my head in Italian. I have LOVED it. I feel like a passion has awakened in my soul for the language and my desire to learn continues to be so strong.

      So how much can you learn in a month?

      The short answer is A TON. Way more than you think. I can understand, read and speak so much more than when I started a month ago. I have a long way to go before I reach fluency but I feel like I have a huge jumpstart, especially for not being in any formal training or in Italy for that matter.

      I really believe that if you want to learn a foreign language no matter your age, you can do it. It takes a lot of work, yes. It takes time, yes. But the rewards are so wonderful. 63 million people speak Italian as their first language, so it’s like a whole new world of people has opened up to me.

      So I cannot encourage you enough to just go for it! You can do it. Are you learning a language? If so which one? How has your journey been?

Our love for languages fueled us to create a channel to inspire others to Learn English and other languages!

Check it out and subscribe:

Learn English with Camille

DISCLAIMER: Sometimes we provide links to products (we love) that we receive a commission for upon sales through the link.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for this inspiring post! I DuckDuckGo’d “how much language can you learn in a month” and this came up.

    1. I have never seen a language tree. Being interested in language and having a general idea about the roots of various languages, seeing this was an awesome eye opener. Now I am going to look up more and memorize them.

    2. I go to Accra, Ghana every year in November and have been doing so for 10 years. I have friends there and my son’s godfather is Ghanaian. We speak English with each other but they all speak Twi (Akkan) also. It has been my desire to learn it but I never have.

    I am going to start now and knowing that I can learn a decent amount before I get there is encouraging!

    1. Hey Brad I just saw this message! Not sure how I missed the notification. We are glad we have inspired you! Each language is unique and has its challenges. Especially if a language does not have a reference point. For example when I learned Portuguese I had 2 reference points English and Spanish to pull from. Now I am starting Turkish and found that learning words is a lot harder because there are much less reference points! That being said, don’t give up! You will see the fruit of your labors! Blessings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join the Holistic Pursuit!

Subscribe and we’ll send you articles to your inbox automatically.
(no more than one email per week)