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How Many hours does it take to speak English "Fluently"?

4 years ago
Disclaimer: these are ballpark figures; it could be slightly less or slightly more. Everyone is different.

One would think that this is the most common question I get asked, but it isn't. Rather students come to me telling me they want to be fluent without knowing what that requires. Most do not continue studying long term. So if you want to be fluent, keep this in mind.

Whether you want to learn a new language for personal or work-related reasons, you may be wondering: How long does it take to learn English fluently? Of course, this is an incredibly difficult question to answer as many different factors need to be taken into account, but let’s delve a little further into this issue and take a look at some benchmark figures.

It takes a lot of hard work and patience to perfect reading, writing, speaking and listening skills – so how much time should you set aside to learn English properly? Well, according to English UK – a trade body for language colleges – you need around 120 hours to progress from one level to the next. Cambridge ESOL on the other hand believes it takes somewhere near the 200 hour mark to show significant improvement.
Of course, students learn at different speeds and this makes it hard to calculate exact figures, but here’s a European framework of guided learning hours for adults:

Pre-Intermediate (A2): 180-200 hours
Intermediate (B1): 350-400 hours
Upper Intermediate (B2): 500 – 600 hours
Advanced (C1): 700 – 800 hours
Proficiency (C2):  1000 – 1200

While it’s true that adults take some time to become fluent in English, children tend to be much quicker at picking up a foreign tongue. They will probably be talking with English-speaking friends before you’ve even finished the third chapter of your workbook.
How long does it take adults to learn English? Well, as previously mentioned, this depends on the individual. Everyone is different, but here are several factors that could impact your studies.
  • Motivation
If you have a particular goal in mind such as applying for your dream job or enrolling in an English-speaking university, you may be motivated to push yourself as hard as possible. Enthusiasm will help you study harder and this should result in rapid progress. Even a 2 week course can greatly improve your skills, so go ahead and try your best!
  • Time and budget
Wouldn’t it be great to pack your bags and study in an English-speaking country for a year? Of course! But not everyone has the time and money to pursue their dreams. If you want to know how to become fluent in English fast, you must find something that works for you whether it’s paying for an hour long session here with a teacher or practicing with your English-speaking friends on Skype or Facebook.
  • Languages you already speak
Do you speak a language with the same alphabet as English? If so, you have an advantage as languages such as Spanish, French, German and Swedish share many grammatical features with English as well as similar sounding words. If your native language is, say, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese or Turkish, you may find the initial stages of learning English a challenge, but with some determination,you will develop your skills.

For further reading, here is an article about this by the BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23407265

I hope that this acts as motivation for you to start learning today! There is no time like the present! If you want to start this journey today, sign up for a trial lesson with me.