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How Long Does it Take to Learn English Fluently?

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Learning a language can feel like climbing a huge mountain. It’s not so bad when you start, but the higher up you get, the more difficult the terrain becomes. You’re tired, you’re out of breath, and you don’t know if it’s worth it to keep going. Things aren’t going well, and you’re getting discouraged.

When this happens, it can really help to have a more realistic sense of the work involved and the direction you must take. This way, you can prepare yourself for the road ahead and regain your energy. And I have some good news: If you’re reading this article, you’re almost there! You just need to keep pressing forward. 

In this article, I’ll talk about how long it takes most people to learn English and give you some advice on how to learn English fast!

Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. First, a Few Factors to Consider
  2. Reaching Beginner Level (CEFR A1 – A2)
  3. Reaching Intermediate Level (CEFR B1 – B2)
  4. Reaching Advanced Level (CEFR C1 – C2)
  5. Final Thoughts

First, a Few Factors to Consider

From Start to Finish

So how long will it take, really? It depends on who you ask.

According to English UK, it generally takes 120 hours for each level of English fluency. But if you ask Cambridge ESOL, it takes closer to 200 hours per level. 

One thing professionals agree on is that there are certain factors that influence how difficult English will be for you. (We covered a few of these points in our recent article titled Is English Hard to Learn? You can check it out for more information.) 

  • How similar your native language is to English.

If you speak German, Spanish, or French, you’ll likely have an easy time learning English! But if you speak a very different language, particularly a language that does not belong to the Romance language family (like Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic), learning English will be a lot harder for you. 

  • What other languages you know.

If you already know more languages than your mother tongue, learning English won’t be nearly as difficult (no matter what your native language is). This is because you’ve already trained your brain to pick up new language patterns. In other words, once you learn a new language, every subsequent new language is easy to learn. And if the language(s) you learned are similar to English, that’s even better.

  • How much time and money you’re able to invest in learning.

If you spend six or more hours a day learning English, you’re going to pick it up much faster than someone who only studies for an hour or less. In addition, investing in language courses or better learning tools can significantly help your learning process!

  • How dedicated and motivated you are.

If you don’t have an end-goal or aren’t really passionate about the language, you probably won’t get very far. It’s important to have a goal (or series of goals) to help you along, and it’s even better if you can find ways to love learning English.

  • Your everyday exposure to the language.

The more exposure to English you have each day, the faster you’ll learn. If you’re struggling to make progress, you might want to start implementing English-language content into your daily routine. Listen to English-language music, read books, stream movies on Netflix, or find an English YouTube channel to follow! 

  • How effective your learning tools and methods are.

When you’re using the best tools available to you and learning in a way that works for you, you’ll absorb so much more information! I recommend doing a little research on learning styles, so you can make more effective study decisions based on how you prefer learning.

  • How old you are.

Children tend to be much more effective language-learners than adults. Their brains are more adept at acquiring new information in general, while the adult brain has more difficulty learning new things. My advice: If you’re young and want to continue improving your English, take advantage of your youth while you can. 😉 But if you’re learning English as an adult, don’t despair: You can still make progress and even perfect your language skills! It will just take a little longer. 

1. Reaching Beginner Level (CEFR A1 – A2)

A Man Tired While Hiking

Level A1

Time: Approximately 70 hours of regular study time. 

Language points and abilities: 

  • Understand basic phrases
  • Greet and introduce yourself
  • Engage in short conversations (when the other person talks slowly and clearly)

Level A2

Time: Approximately 180-200 hours of regular study time. 

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand frequently used phrases
  • Exchange basic information
  • Talk about things of immediate relevance without too much trouble

How to Learn Faster

  • Set a clear goal. What do you want or need from the language? Make sure your goals are manageable and that they line up with your reasons for studying. 
  • Make flashcards. The flashcards you create should have something to do with your goal. In this case, you’ll probably want to memorize words that have to do with basic conversations and everyday life. 
  • Practice listening. In addition to EnglishClass101’s podcasts and video lessons, I recommend you do some passive listening. Watch TV shows in English, listen to songs in a genre you like, or tune into a podcast that interests you. A few minutes a day can really add up. 

Relevant Lessons

Daily Conversations in English for Beginners. 

This lesson series provides five and a half hours of native English dialogue. In each of the twenty-five lessons, you’ll learn a new aspect of everyday English conversations, from common phrases to verb tenses. 

Also see the following blog posts about basic conversations:


2. Reaching Intermediate Level (CEFR B1 – B2)

Someone Climbing a Mountain at Dusk

Level B1

Time: Approximately 350-400 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand main points about familiar things
  • Possess the vocabulary needed for travel
  • Produce simple text
  • Express dreams, plans, and events

Level B2

Time: Approximately 500-600 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand more complex texts (abstract + concrete + technical)
  • Participate in increasingly fluent conversation
  • Write clear text 
  • Express and support opinions

How to Learn Faster

Are you wondering how to learn English properly at this stage? Here are a few tips for you. 

  • Continue expanding your vocabulary. Make more flashcards and study them regularly. You may find it beneficial to label items in your home or office with their English name. This will expose you to the vocabulary all day, every day, and help you associate the word with what it is.  
  • Practice listening and writing. Listen to things in English that have to do with your interests and language goals, and write in English whenever you can. Do you want to open a restaurant in the U.S.? Listen to cooking podcasts and start a food blog in English. This will help you learn words and phrases that match up with your goals. 
  • Practice reading. Start with simpler texts and work your way up. It’s also important to read things that you’re interested in, and in a format you feel comfortable with. If you enjoy reading magazines in your native language, you should try reading them in English; if you like reading fiction novels, try your hand at a shorter English novel. 
  • Work on your pronunciation. If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to get serious about your pronunciation. Even with a strong vocabulary, your speech will falter if your pronunciation isn’t right. A good way to start is by reading vocabulary words out loud and checking your pronunciation against that of a native speaker. 

Relevant Lessons

In our Ordering Pizza lesson series for lower-intermediate learners, you’ll learn what to expect during a casual phone call. You’ll also learn things like:

    ❖ How to use the modal verb “would” for polite requests
    ❖ How to use wordplay and humor in conversations

Each lesson in this series also includes 1) a transcript so you can read along with the lesson, 2) a printed version of the conversation, and 3) a vocabulary list that you can study, practice, and add to your flashcard deck. 

I also recommend checking out the following series and lessons:


3. Reaching Advanced Level (CEFR C1 – C2)

A Man Who Has Reached the Top of a Snowy Mountain

Level C1 

Time: Approximately 700-800 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand longer, more complex texts and their implicit meaning
  • Have fluent/spontaneous communication with others, and express yourself
  • Use the English language in a flexible manner
  • Produce clear and detailed text with excellent command of all grammatical aspects

Level C2

Time: Approximately 1000-1200 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand just about everything you hear and read in English
  • Be able to summarize texts or conversations
  • Reconstruct arguments
  • Perfectly incorporate linguistic nuances in spontaneous communication

How to Learn Faster

You’re so close to total mastery! Here’s some advice on how to learn English effectively as you approach the advanced level. 

  • Write longer texts and listen to longer-form material. Take notes when needed, make flashcards, and look words up in a dictionary if you need to. As you increase the amount of writing and listening you do, you’ll become more comfortable with it and get a better understanding of nuances.  
  • Quiz yourself and take mock quizzes. One of the funnest ways to learn something is to play games with yourself. In this case, you can quiz yourself throughout the day (or once a week) on things you’ve recently learned, read, heard, or even said! Additionally, you can find pre-made quizzes online to help you find areas for improvement. Some of them can even help you prepare for major English tests like the IELTS
  • Think in English. This can be the hardest part! I’m currently learning Spanish and Korean, and it’s so unnatural for me to think in those languages. It will take practice, but it will be very worth it. Thinking in English will make the language feel more natural to you over time.
  • Learn English-language nuances. Every language has its own nuances that foreigners find difficult to learn. By familiarizing yourself with little-known grammar rules, spelling exceptions, and turns of phrase, you’ll be one step closer to full English mastery. 
  • Practice speaking with native speakers. One of the best ways to really test yourself is to have practice conversations with native English-speakers. This will expose you to real, everyday language and give you someone to help correct your mistakes. If you’re not living in an English-speaking country, you can always find online chat groups, language-learning forums, or even pen pals to practice speaking with! 

Appropriate Lessons

EnglishClass101.com has plenty of audio and video lessons for advanced learners to help them hone their skills. For example, this lesson about Michael Jackson’s song Thriller provides learners with cultural information, more complex sentences to study, and an interesting topic to listen to. 

I also recommend the following series and vocabulary lists:


Final Thoughts

A Helping Hand

I hope this article has shown you that becoming fluent in English is totally doable, even if there are some aspects of the language that seem insurmountable now. 

Now that you know some of the milestones you can look forward to, are you wondering how to learn English more effectively? 

At EnglishClass101.com, we understand that English has its tough points, and that you might be tempted to give up. We want you to know that you don’t have to make this journey alone! 

Here are just a few of our features:

We’re dedicated to making English an accessible language for everyone, and that’s reflected in our themed lessons for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced students. There’s always room for growth, and we’ll be here to help on every step of your journey. 

If you’ve read this entire article, it means that your English is already really good! But if you’re not satisfied with your current level, you can work on improving key areas (such as speaking, pronunciation, or grammar). Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, so we hope you’ll stick with us.

Before you go, do you have any tips for fellow English-learners? Or maybe a question about something in this article? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Happy learning with EnglishClass101.com! 🙂

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