Is Learning A Foreign Language Worth the Cost?

We present the facts of cost and reward for you to answer that question for yourself.

Learning any foreign language will cost you time and money, but just how much will depend on a wide variety of factors.

What in the world is a Language Blog doing dipping our toes into economics concepts like cost-benefit analysis? Because economics is affected by language, is affected by media, is affected by culture, is affected by technology, is affected by politics, and it all spins around in one unified globe of inseparable interconnectivity. But I’m guessing you are not here for philosophical meanderings and simply want to know if learning a foreign language is worth the cost of attaining it. We think so, and this is why. 

 

The Cost of Learning a Language

 

Learning any foreign language will cost you time and money, but just how much will depend on a wide variety of factors like personal adaptability, resources available, budget, and commitment. According to Dynamic Language, a company called Voucherbox conducted studies of the costs and hours required for English speakers to learn a language from scratch to fluency. The data was collected from average prices of cost-per-hour language websites and calculating estimated expenses and difficulties of learning each language. View the full list here.

 

Target    Language

Spanish

French

Mandarin

German

Difficulty (Hours)

600

600

2200

750

Ave Cost per Hour

$12.74

$16.92

$16.58

$19.90

Overall Cost to Fluency

$7644

$10152

$36476

$14925

 

 

Time

 

Obviously you cannot study a language 24 hours a day, so you must decide how much time per day you will devote to language study, and this determines how quickly you become fluent. As an example:

 

600 hours of language study divided into 

1 hour a day for

 7 days a week

=

About 86 weeks or a little less than 1 year and 8 months. 

 

If you studied for 2 hours a day you would cut that time in half to 10 months. If you only study/expose yourself to the target language for 15 minutes a day, it might take you as long as 7 years and 2 months. 

 

 

Money

 

The amount of money you spend on language learning will all depend on your budget and fluency goals. Paid options will provide higher quality and more efficient learning than free options, but paid options can add up if you have a limited budget.

 

Paid Options Free Options
Tutoring or Classes (Ranging from $30/hr to $100/hr) Free Language Exchange Partners on the Internet (downside: these people are usually not qualified to teach) 
Paid Apps (Ranging from $5 for simple apps, to $15/month for subscriptions) Free Apps (downside: you will probably have to suffer through advertisements or can only progress a certain level each day)
Paid Subscriptions to TV (Example: Ranging from $12/month for LingoPie TV to $75/month for live sports like Fubo) YouTube (downside: limited selection and have to put up with annoying ads)

 

 

The Payoff of Learning a Language

 

If at this time you’re overwhelmed with the costs of time and money to learn a foreign language, now we’re going to talk about the benefits, and why it’s worth every penny spent and every minute studied.

 

  • Personal Discipline:

 

No matter your skill level and aptitude towards learning, it takes a lot of discipline to learn a foreign language. As you Create resolutions, set effective goals, stick to daily schedules, and overcome challenges, over time you will grow your “muscle” of personal discipline over time, which will bleed into other areas of your life that you want to be disciplined in.   

 

  • Personal Reward:

 

Talk to any person who has taken the time to learn a new language, and they will beam about how rewarding the process and final result was. Not only will you feel good about yourself about a job well done, but you will be able to make new friends, expand your horizons by learning another culture, have more authentic travel experiences, and learn more about yourself in the process. 

 

  • Financial Opportunities:

 

According to Omnigolot (the Online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages), bilinguals earn $7,000 more per year than monolinguals due to the following reasons:

  1. There are far fewer bilinguals to choose from, so each bilingual has a slightly higher ‘value.’
  2. It takes into account bilingual speakers who speak English vs their monolingual counterparts who don’t speak English. In our English-centric culture we often overlook that bilingualism goes both ways.

 

Learning a foreign language will open up new and often higher paying job opportunities that will pay for all the money and time that you spent putting into learning the language. 

 

We hope this blog article has laid out the evidence before you to make an informed answer to the question “Is learning a foreign language worth the cost?” Find out for yourself by signing you or your child up for Cultural Bytes’ affordable one-on-one language tutoring classes in Spanish, French, or Mandarin where you will find qualified instructors, weekly encouragement/accountability, and lots of fun. 

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