The short answer to this question is quite obvious; the more you spend, the better. But if you do not want to spend your whole life with learning a new language, you must have a feasible language-learning plan. You can sacrifice all your time studying, but will you be able to keep it up? On the other hand, if you don’t spend enough time on it, it could be impossible to build upon what you learn. The key is to strike a balance and make language learning an integrated part of your life in a productive, enjoyable and sustainable way.
You’ll need to spend a lot of time actively learning a second language, especially at the beginning. Your time is dedicated to learning important new words, sentence structure, pronunciation and conjugation and so on. About an hour a day is a good starting point to get excellent results for most people who lead busy lives. Active study time is particularly important in the early stages of your language learning. Do not believe the advertisements that promise easy and quick results. They always lie.
One of the great things about learning a new language is that there are lots of things you already do in that language! These can be adapted to help you acquire the language better. Language exposure is anything that is not focused on learning but reinforces what you have learnt. It provides you with the opportunity of practising the language freely. You may watch movies, read short stories, listen to the radio etc. You can easily find a few hours for extra practice regularly. Change the set language on your phone, video games and social media! You will get easily used to the language outside studying. Change simple things in your daily routine to get a bit of extra practice every day. Little time here and there add up, and it all counts towards the amount of time you dedicate to learning.
Your current level of English will affect the amount of time you can spend on studying. It is not easy to spare much time for learning without feeling exhausted, especially as a beginner. Short, but intensive lessons are more effective than long hours. Thirty minutes a day is much better than 3-5 hours once a week. Once you have a strong foundation in your language, it will become much easier to learn through content and exposure. As you progress, try to shift your time from active study to more language exposure. Watching a movie in your new language can be at least as enjoyable as watching it in your native language, even if you don’t understand everything. Language learning becomes more enjoyable this way! The disadvantage is that it’s still using your time and the progress you make is less obvious.
Plan your language learning in a way that you can keep it up in the long run. Consistency has always been a crucial part of language learning, according to experts. There is no point in studying for a few weeks, only to give up before it starts showing results. Around half an hour of active study and one hour of language exposure daily is a routine that will surely give you the results you need. Your success also depends on your goals and expectations, of course. But still, you need to decide how much time you can dedicate to active and passive studying - and keep it up! Give it a try and plan your daily and long-term activities to meet your needs. You can follow a language-learning book, take lessons with a private teacher, take language workshops, or you can study with an online interactive language learning software like English Exam Tasks. Come and have a go!