How many hours of language training do you need to improve by one level?

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How many hours of language training do you need to improve by one level?

It is a recurring question: how many hours of language training do you need to improve your proficiency by one level? Not surprisingly as you want to know what you are getting into when you start a language course and how much time you need to achieve your goal. To be honest, there is no simple answer. Fortunately, we can give a realistic estimate.

If you have ever taken a language course in the past, you will undoubtedly have been told your CEFR level and been shown the associated model. That model looks like stairs where the distance between each step and each level is the same. Climb one step and you have climbed one level on the CEFR ladder. The climb from level 1 to level 2 is the same as the climb from level 2 to level 3.

But that picture is wrong. Learning a language is like climbing a mountain: the closer to the top you get, the harder it becomes. The higher the level, the more time you have to invest and the broader the range of skills you have to acquire.

The raw numbers

OK, so how many hours do you need to put in to advance one level? We have compiled an overview of the figures based on published data and our own expertise. Note that these are the formal hours spent in class with a trainer.

Start levelEnd levelMin. # hoursMax. # hours

However, the numbers cover a huge range and we can’t really pin down the minimum and maximum hours. Why? Because everyone differs in the pace and way in which they learn and improve their language proficiency. There are also numerous other factors that help determine how fast you can advance to the next level, for example:

  • Age and motivation
  • The target language
  • The learner’s background (education, knowledge of other languages etc.)
  • Exposure to the target language outside the course setting
  • Time spent on individual study
  • Type of course (individual or group? Large or small group? Face-to-face or remote?)

How many hours do you really need to achieve your learning objective?

To get back to the key question: how many hours do you really need to achieve your learning objective, as opposed to a particular CEFR level? We can’t give a ready-made answer but we can give a realistic estimate.

Start levelEnd level# hours with trainers# hours of self-studyImportance of exposureImportance of contact with native speakers
A0A140 hours20 hours
A1A240 hours30 hours
A2B12 x 30 hours30 hours
B1B23 x 30 hours30 hoursImportantImportant
B2C13 x 30 hours30 hoursVery importantVery important
C1C23 x 30 hours30 hoursCrucialCrucial

The figures above are a generic model and should be adjusted to allow for two aspects:

  1. Self-study.
    If you don’t spend any hours on independent learning, in other words don’t do any self-study, that will have an effect on the number of hours you need with your trainer.
  2. Exposure.
    You will see that exposure becomes more important as your language level increases. Contact with native speakers also becomes more and more important. The same rule applies here: fewer hours of exposure means you need to spend more hours with your trainer.

If you too want to increase your language proficiency, please contact us using our contact form.


Over de auteur

Jody Dewancker
Jody Dewancker

As an Account Coordinator and Marketing Officer at BLCC, Jody’s main task is scheduling the remote training courses. She is also responsible for marketing-related tasks such as writing texts and articles, and managing the social media accounts.