Do you enjoy numbers? I do. I just worked out something astonishing a few days ago. Let’s play with some numbers and you can see it too.

900 hours – the expected time to get from zero to B1 in a European language for a native English speaker.

3,000 – the number of “units” of the language required to be acquired to perform at a B1 level (a “unit” = a word or a phrase or a conjugation or an example of a grammar rule).

800 hours – the time left after subtracting the 100 hours you will require to practice the skill of using the language (listening, reading, speaking, writing) assuming you are building your skill using a reasonably efficient and effective method.

800 hours / 3000 items = 16 minutes per item. So…

red = rouge => 16 minutes (total time)

orange = orange => 32 minutes (total time)

yellow = jaune => 48 mins (total time)

green = vert => over one hour so far and just 4 colours acquired. Ouch!!!

How long does it take to review something you know? Let’s find out. What is the day that follows Thursday? What is the meaning of the word “Century”? What’s the name of the current pandemic? Not long, right? Let’s say 3-6 seconds per item. Maybe you know some basic French, would you be more comfortable if we used French for our testing? The french for “Hello”?, The french for “goodbye”, the french for “I”? Would you agree that to review something you know well does not take you more than 6 seconds and perhaps 3 seconds when you know it well?

That means you have the time to repeat each item 160-320 times during a standard language course. I’m not saying endless repetition is a good way to learn. In fact, my work is about the opposite thought. But since standard classes mostly use repetition as their primary tool for “learning” – you can see that standard classroom education is not exactly an efficient process. Maybe there is a better way? Especially when you consider that about one word in six in French is the same as English.