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How long does it take to learn English?

How long does it take to learn English?

Let's find out how soon you can get closer to your English learning goal and what factors affect it.

It is no secret that knowledge of English is one of the most sought-after competencies for smooth communication and continuous development in the modern world. Since it is an international language, its knowledge is required for both everyday communication and professional development.

This is why many people today strive to master English sufficiently to perform the necessary tasks. Those who start English classes have a common question: how much time should I spend on learning English?

This can be a difficult question to answer, as there are a number of different factors that will come into play. Today we will try to break them down to understand and plan how much time we will need.

Defining the level

At the very beginning, it is worth defining what we mean by the concept of "learning" English. In the world, it is generally accepted to classify language levels according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). In order to understand how much time we need to spend on learning English, we need to decide what level we are at now and what level we should aim for.

This classification identifies six levels of foreign language proficiency with a corresponding set of necessary competencies for each level that a learner should possess.

  • Level A1 is the survival level (Beginner and Elementary). At this level, we can communicate with the help of basic words and grammar, ask simple questions and understand basic expressions.
  • Level A2 — Pre-Intermediate level. It is already possible to communicate at the everyday level, read non-complex texts, write elementary sentences, tell about your experiences in simple terms.
  • Level B1 is a threshold level (Intermediate). At this level, a learner feels more confident in conversation and can go beyond ordinary situations to talk about their dreams and aspirations. It becomes possible to read the press and books and to write simple essays.
  • Level B2 is the threshold advanced level (Upper-Intermediate). Speech becomes more confident and fluent, which greatly facilitates communication with native speakers, a student is able to maintain a conversation on almost any topic. The main ideas of complex texts on a variety of topics are easily understood.
  • Level C1 is the level of professional proficiency (Advanced). This level implies fluency in the language. The knowledge is sufficient to achieve all social, academic, and professional goals. Reading and writing present no difficulty and contain a minimum number of errors, a student can distinguish the whole range of English styles from spoken to formal.
  • Level C2 — Proficiency level. At the highest level of proficiency, the learner will be able to reproduce spoken and written language accurately and without error, understand all explicit and implicit meanings of the language in all situations.

In most cases, a B2 level is sufficient for many people to communicate in English and achieve their professional and social goals. However, you should always carefully consider the requirements that you need to meet in order to move to another country, work in a particular profession, or study at a particular level of education. Depending on the purpose and country, the levels may vary and are usually confirmed by passing international exams (e.g. IELTS or Duolingo).

Counting the hours

Once the starting and desired levels are clear, you can estimate how long it will take to master the language. Cambridge experts have calculated the approximate number of hours needed to move from one level of English to the next.

  • From zero to A1: 90-100 hours.
  • A1 to A2: 100-150 hours.
  • A2 to B1: 160-240 hours.
  • B1 to B2: 180-260 hours.
  • B2 to C1: 200-300 hours.
  • C1 to C2: 300-400 hours.

It is important to remember that it is not only the amount of time spent, but also the intensity of the lessons that plays a role. It is worth taking into account the fact that with low intensity, what you have learned tends to go out of your head faster. Therefore, if you devote only two hours a week to English and do not return to it during the rest of the time, i.e. do not do homework, do not learn words and do not study additional materials, it will be much less effective, and most likely it will take much longer to move to a new level.

However, you should be careful not to go overboard in your endeavors. Be sure to take pauses and breaks in studying, give your brain a rest and process the information received. Otherwise, there is a risk of overloading yourself and forming a steady resistance to continuing the learning process.

Setting goals

In order to successfully achieve what we want, we need to set clear goals for ourselves. This helps us to track our progress and stay motivated in the learning process. Therefore, it is important to understand why we need to learn English. The goals can be different: a new job in an international company, studying abroad, or reading special literature in English. This will help us understand what language competencies we need to achieve.

In addition to such long-term goals, it makes sense to set short-term goals as well. In other words, set yourself a step-by-step study plan with specific deadlines and visible results.

Forming a habit

Learning English should become something permanent in our lives. In order to do this, it is necessary to turn this process into a good habit. You should slowly accustom yourself to being in contact with English every day, at least on a minimal level of interaction. For example, subscribe to news articles in English, watch videos on YouTube, and learn a few words a day.

Selecting resources and an experienced instructor

As we have realized, learning a language is a complex and time-consuming process that requires a proper approach and planning. Despite the vast amount of resources available today, it is often an overwhelming task to choose the right material. In addition, when studying on your own, it can be difficult to define short-term goals and outline the most effective way to achieve them.

Therefore, if your goal in learning is serious and you intend to master it as fast and productively as possible, the best way out is to turn to professionals. An experienced teacher will be able to help you decide on the level and chart a path to higher levels. They will also carefully monitor your progress and adjust the learning process according to your needs.

We are pleased to recommend ILAC Canadian English Language School, where all courses are designed to help students achieve the desired results in the best possible time, and experienced native-speaking teachers can guide you to your goal in the most effective way. ILAC offers the most up-to-date programs available today:

  • General English for students beginning their journey at the elementary and intermediate levels.
  • Cambridge English for those who want to reach a fluent level.
  • Pre-entry preparation, which prepares you for undergraduate and graduate programs and allows you to enter without taking an additional international exam.
  • IELTS test preparation will help you prepare to pass the international exam with the right score.
  • Business English will help you learn the language to communicate in a professional setting.
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