Monday, April 21, 2008

How Long Does It Take To Learn English


Someone asked me this the other day and I do think that it is a fair question. However, it is difficult to give an accurate answer.

I have met people who started university life with an intermediate level of English and achieved perfect fluency in about two years. On the other hand, I have met people who use English every day at work or have lived in an English speaking country, and after 20 years still make basic mistakes.

Just look at Jacky Chan, for example. His English is still not up to par despite working in Hollywood for years!

So really, it depends on the learner. It depends on the person's natural ability to learn languages, and it depends on learning strategies and commitment.

In the end, you can expect to improve your English even on a short course, but real fluency may take years of practice.

4 comments:

Filmosonic XL said...

I think motivation is the key.
I've been learning English for about 4 years and I'm still not fluent but I'm on my way, and it's all just because I'm keen on learning and developing a second language.

R2G said...

For someone who has been learning English for four years, your English is really good. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

How long does it take to learn English well?

Whole your life if not any longer.

First of all English is very dynamic language. As a EFL student you may come pretty close to the level of native speaker, but you may newer attain complete command of the language.

This is especially true when it comes about developing your "English voice" in regard of neutral but regionally determinate accent (as a natural speaker you either have BE or AME accent, as a EFL student you finish having both accompanied with some inarticulate voices), and developing of appropriate stress and pitch.

English is really awesome language, but it has some "strange" characteristics like connecting two or more words together, silent voices or dropping part of the word.List of drawbacks is quite long.

If some foreign languages speaker would talk in his natural language using above mentioned "manners" of English speakers, he could easily end up being treated for dyslexia if not for something even worst, let say mumbling.

This is opinion of a man with almost 30 years of probation in learning English as a foreign language, who's vocabulary is ample, who reads and comprehends English with even greater accuracy then in his mother tong, but the one who will probably never reach oral perfection in English.

Actually I'm not bad at all, ever since I decided to build my English voice (you definitively shouldn't and couldn't speak any foreign language with a same oral characteristics e.a. being tenor in one language doesn't mean you should end up being tenor in other one.

P.S. Road to grammar is without doubt excellent and valuable resource for EFL students at any level. And on this blog one could find some really useful information.

To conclude, as a ESL or EFL learner, your motto should be "I don't know to speak English perfectly, but every day I am getting closer to finally achieve this foolish goal".

R2G said...

Thanks for the comments, Anonymous.

I love your 'motto'. I may have to quote that to my students.