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How Long Does It Take to Learn English? (The Real Answer)

Millions of people around the world today aspire to learn how to speak English.The most common question we hear from these learners is: "How long does it take to learn English?"

We get it. Most English learners, like any language learner, have other responsibilities they have to attend to. It's rare for us to have the luxury of practicing our English skills full-time. We have jobs to go to, family to take care of, and bills to pay.

The good news is, you don't have to learn English full-time to get effective results. And the benefits of learning English are massive.

What are the benefits of learning English?

It's a never-ending list, but we'll share with you the major highlights.

English is the international language of the world

Like it or not, the world is becoming more globalized by the minute. As this happens, organizations and corporations are looking to expand their reach to other parts of the world.

It's clear that for now, English is the default language of choice to communicate amongst one another. This includes not just business, but entertainment, politics, tourism, and more. There are many businesses that are making it mandatory for employees to communicate in English only.

No matter what you want to do or where you want to go, you can bet on English being a useful language to learn. More importantly, it will likely help you earn more money in business.

business-english

Gain confidence by understanding the world better

English is used nearly everywhere in the global media, literature, and business, and there's a lot of information that you may be missing out on.English-speaking countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are global economic powerhouses, and if you want to do business with anyone in this world, English is a necessity. In many cases, you need to be fluent.In addition, there are English movies, literature, and articles that you can unlock once you learn English.

Travel the world with ease

English is the international language that's recognized, and learning this language will change how you travel. With over 1.5 billion people that can speak English, there are 81 countries (2015) that use it as their official language.The likelihood of finding an English speaker will be far higher than just about any language (other than the local language) if you're ever lost.

english-speakers

How long does it take to learn English?

To get a detailed answer to this question, we need to address the following variables. When it comes to learning anything new, each of us has different learning styles, experiences, and motivation.It's critical to consider these factors, as there's no 'one-trick-pony' timeline for learning how to speak English or any language.

a. Have you previously learned English?

If you've learned how to speak English in the past, whether in high school or overseas, you'll have an easier time relearning the language.Studies show that even if we 'forget' certain information that we've previously learned, it gets stored into our long-term memory. That means, instead of our memory trying to absorb brand new information (which takes longer), we're simply resurfacing information that's already stored.

Here's a simple visual chart to show you how this works.

forgetting-curve

b. How motivated are you to learn? (Length and frequency)

Your internal purpose and motivation will also play a major role in how quickly you can learn English.The formula of learning anything faster comes down to:

  • how frequently you practice
  • how long you can sustain this frequency of practice

Results follow effort, so you have to be passionate and energized to learn English. I recommend referring back to the benefits of English we mentioned above.The good news is, it's one of the easiest languages to learn, especially if you already speak a similar language like Spanish, German, French, etc.

c. What method are you using to learn?

Often times, it's not just about putting in more effort. As the saying goes, "work smarter, not just harder."It doesn't matter how hard you try to bolt down a nail using your own hand, it doesn't replace using a hammer. When it comes to learning a new language, there are dozens of options thrown at you that promises the golden ticket of language fluency.

Without trying to be hypothetical about our answer, let's break down the research.

Based on findings from the National Training Laboratories, there are two main ways to learn something: actively and passively.

learning-pyramid

We've traditionally been taught has mostly been in the 'Passive Learning' category, such as lectures, textbooks, watching videos, etc. Yet ironically, these are the least effective ways to learn.

Compared to listening to a lecture, teaching and speaking enable us to retain 9 to 18x more information in our brain.

With time being so limited, we have to carefully consider which method we decide to use to learn. Based on the research, speaking and practicing with a native speaker seems to be the best use of your time.

Make Learning English Part of Your Lifestyle

Now that we've discussed the benefits of learning English and the variables that may affect learning timeline, we'll show you how to speed things up.

1. Master the most common words

If you've watched our language master class in the past, then you shouldn't be a stranger to this language hack.If you haven't let us recap.Some English words are used far more common than others. Words such as 'the', 'of', 'to', 'in' is an extreme example, but true nonetheless. In fact, in our everyday conversations, we probably use less than 30-40% of the vocabulary that we actually know.

most-common-english-words

The best use of our time will be spent learning the amount of most common words that will allow us to maximize our learning potential. Studies show that learning the first 1,000 most common words will help familiarize us with 85% of the oral language we're learning. Crazy, right?

Here's a visual list of the most common printed words in the English language.

most-common-english-words

2. Don't be a generalist

By that we mean, get clear on why you're learning English. If you want to learn so you can speak to a friend or travel the world, spending your precious time trying to master every vocabulary in the English language is not the way to go.

You should be focusing your energy on improving your speaking skills, such as accents, pronunciation, small talk, etc.

On the other hand, if you're trying to pass an exam for work or to attend an educational institution abroad, then you should spend more time learning the academic side of English.We often see students trying to spend their efforts on learning materials that don't align with their end goal, and hopefully this lesson will prevent you from doing the same!

3. Work with a private teacher

Having a personal teacher who has worked with dozens, if not hundreds of students, can significantly accelerate your path. Just like having a private fitness trainer will give you a boost in results versus trying to learn how to workout from scratch.

Professional teachers can recognize learning patterns based on the students they've worked with, and enable a shortcut path for you to learn faster. In addition, they give you real-time feedback, accountability, and access to practice with a fluent speaker (the most effective way to learn any language).

It's a no brainer, especially if you want faster results and a more real-life interactive way to learn English.We hope this was useful in determining the question: 'How long does it take to learn English?' There is no one clear answer for everyone, but there is a personalized answer for you.At the end of the day, we believe it's best to focus on the work you can put in, instead of how long something will take to learn.

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