I made a comment the other day in front of a few yeshivah guys saying that if a guy goes to Israel for a whole year for the express purpose of learning Gemara I would expect him to learn around half of Shas. But they said I was way off and a couple even got upset at me for even suggesting it.
Now, half of Shas is less than 3000 pages (1500 dafim). If a person is taking a whole year to study it why is that such a huge task? Suppose it's not for a whole year but for ten months (typical length of time for a guy who comes home for Pesach) which is about 40 weeks long and he studies for maybe 50 hours a week. Not very strenuous, especially as learning Gemara doesn't exactly require physical exertion. That calculates into 2000 hours of learning time.
Is it so absurd to think that a dedicated person can't finish at least one daf (double page) an hour? For Daf Yomi they manage to run through it in about ten minutes. Granted, the depth of a Daf Yomi is hardly an optimum for learning, but not all pages are equally long and much of the Gemara are stories which really don't require a whole lot of concentration. The whole of Shas does not read like Bava Metzia. I really don't think a total rate of a daf an hour is so outrageous.
And especially since I gave a rather easy schedule. If I were to take the year off to study Talmud, I would go to it full gear and do 14 and 16 hour days. I have to admit that I probably wouldn't deal much with the Aramaic though, except for important and choice terms. Sorry, but I want to know the content, not learn how to understand a dead language. I'd try to finish Shas entirely. I mean, I'd have a whole year dedicated to just that purpose.
It just seems to me that those who go to Israel and come back after only having finished a mesechet or two have basically taken the year off. I certainly am not very impressed.
I also think that those yeshivah guys who got upset at the very idea that I suggested only responded so to preserve their collective egos. It hardly sheds them in good light if someone asserts that they went to Israel and wasted most of their time instead of doing their express reason for going in the first place.