Less Than You Think: How Long Does It Take To Learn English?

Tori Tornreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process8 min
Created: Feb 7, 2023Last updated: Jan 11, 2024
How Long Does It Take To Learn English

How long does it take to learn English? That is one of the most common questions that crosses every English learner's mind when they begin or make another attempt at learning English. And there is nothing wrong with asking that question. Every goal should be achievable within adequate deadlines. The same applies to learning English. So, how many hours does it take to learn English? Let's break that down. 

How Many Hours Does It Take To Learn A Language

Learning a new language is an intimidating process. First, you need to accept that you won't become fluent overnight, so you must dedicate hundreds of hours in order to learn a language. And the average time to learn a language would be different for every case and every language. 

Let's say you choose between learning English and Spanish, but you already know Italian. In that case, you will learn Spanish much faster than English. The reason is that Italian and Spanish come from the same language family, so they share many grammar structures and vocabulary. At the same time, English might seem more complex, mainly because the spelling and pronunciation of the words are different, but in Spanish and Italian, they are the same. 

The answer to the question "How long does it usually take to learn a language?" would still be hundreds of hours. However, whether it will be 100 or 1000 depends only on your current level, languages you already speak, dedication, and consistency in learning. 

Some tips can help you to concentrate on language learning and shorten the average time to learn a language by at least some hours. 

  1. Set short-term and long-term goals. They will help you to stay motivated and determine what you need to learn first and by which deadlines realistically. 
  2. Find a mentor or a professional teacher to guide you. Learning a language alone is less effective than enrolling in a guided experience. There are certain things that learners have to know at every level of language proficiency. Some grammar might be challenging to break down with no additional assistance. There is nothing to ashamed of about asking for help to achieve better results. 
  3. Determine your current level and create a plan. Not every learner starts their language learning journey from scratch. Some people tend to pause long and return after months or years of not practicing. So, if you knew a language at the intermediate level a year ago, you will need time to remember what you've known before and practice those skills again. The plan will make the learning process much easier and more understandable. Once your brain knows what to expect, it has fewer reasons to worry, freak out, and sabotage your learning journey. 

How Long Does It Take To Learn English On Average

Since we've already defined how fast someone can learn a language in general, let's get more specific and talk about learning English. So, how long does it take to become fluent in another language? Linguists and language learning specialists don't usually estimate it in months or years. Predicting how much time a person will need to reach English proficiency by hours is more accurate. 

The Promova Language Learning Specialist, Nataliia Afonina, explains:

"There are about a hundred methods to learn a foreign language and not a single perfect one. Why is it so? One of the reasons is the amount of time we learn the language. It has been calculated that a classroom learner would need more than eighteen years of classroom exposure to supply the same amount of vocabulary input that occurs in just one year in natural settings. Another significant difficulty is in the potential size of the lexicon. An educated native speaker will have a vocabulary of around 20,000-word families. What is more, 5000 of them are acquired by the age of 5, according to the book "How to teach vocabulary" by Scott Thornbury. Meanwhile, most adult language learners will not have acquired 5000-word families even after several years of study. So, how many words does the learner need to know? It has been estimated that most native speakers use 2000 words in their daily conversations. That's a strong argument for equipping a learner with core 2000 high-frequency words as quickly as possible. The researcher Paul Meara estimated that at the rate of 50 words a week, this target could be reached in 40 weeks or one academic year. However, vocabulary is not the only skill that language learners need to work on. That is why learning English, for instance, will take hundreds of hours."

Indeed, according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), it takes approximately 200 hours of guided learning to improve your English skills by one level. By guided learning, language professionals understand individual or group lessons with certified English teachers plus homework and different kinds of independent study like watching films, listening to podcasts, reading books, and talking with real people. That is one of the best ways to learn English today. 

In general, the correlation between the guided hours you spend learning English and the English level you can gain looks like so:

- from Beginner (A0) to Elementary (A1) – 90-100 hours

- from Elementary (A1) to Pre-Intermediate (A2) – 90-100 hours

- from Pre-Intermediate (A2) to Intermediate (B1) – 170-200 hours

- from Intermediate (B1) to Upper-Intermediate (B2) – 150-200 hours

- from Upper-Intermediate (B2) to Advanced (C1) – 200 hours

- from Advanced (C1) to Proficiency (C2) – 300-500 hours. 

As you can see, the higher the level, the more hours you need to achieve the next one. And that is because there are specific requirements by skills that you need to fit after hundreds of hours of learning at every English level. Want to know more about English proficiency levels and what it takes to make the most out of them? Read the article here

Even though English is not the most difficult language, you will need 1000-1200 hours of guided learning to become fluent starting from zero. Reaching English Proficiency (C2) level is the most challenging and capacious process. Not everyone aims to become fully proficient in English because it seems impossible, even for natives. Did you know that native English speaker must also expand their vocabulary by memorizing new words? Well, that's not a cap. They have no other choice. The English language cannot stay still. It constantly evolves and changes, adapting to people's lives. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, there are over a million words in the English language. And you may bump into a new word that is used relatively rarely, even after more than 1200 hours of guided learning. That is why English learners are considered to be life-long students. 


How Many Hours Does It Take To Learn English With Promova

There is a number of factors that affect how long it takes to learn a language fully. The most relevant are your language learning background, your study intensity, and the tools you use. Probably, you've already tried different methods and apps for learning English, right? So far, so not that good? Then we recommend you Promova as your one-stop solution tool for learning English. It's a gift that keeps on giving. 

We offer our students the best English learning experience by immersing them in the English language as much as possible and connecting all possible ways of improving language, such as:

- the mobile app with flashcards and videos on vocabulary and grammar;

- tutoring programs;

- Conversation Club;

- the community of like-minded people;

- language learning blog;

- social media for additional casual practice. 

Promova English learners always have the best experience because we focus on learning English through English without using your primary language. When you push your brain to switch to English, acquiring the language happens much more manageable and naturally. It can be compared to moving to an English-speaking country. 

As we mentioned before, guided experience in learning English is the key to success. Unfortunately, there are a few signs that you need to start working with an English tutor. Luckily for you, the Promova language learning platform has a legit tutoring program, so you don't need to worry about how to find a good English teacher. All our tutors are true professionals with several years of experience who know how to build an effective learning plan and achieve maximum results within deadlines. When creating a personalized program, they are guided by your current level goals, interests, availability, strengths, and weaknesses. In addition, taking the Promova test will help you determine your English proficiency level and clarify how many hours you need to reach fluency. 


How long does it take to learn English? Thanks to this article, this question doesn't look like a mystery to you now. 1000-1200 hours of guided learning and English proficiency will be in your pocket. So stay consistent, keep going, push hard, motivate yourself, and practice daily, and you will get to the point you've always dreamed about. 


Is it possible to learn English after 30?

Yes, of course! Who knows why people always try to connect their age to any learning abilities and experience, but the truth is that you can improve your language skills at any age. It doesn't matter if you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, etc. Everyone can learn English and become fluent despite all the stereotypes spread out there. Actually, being an adult English learner can be your strength, not a weakness. If you decide to work on your English after graduating from school or even university, it means that you set particular goals to achieve. In that case, your aim will drive you to work harder and go further to achieve success no matter what. Statistically, adult learners have a high chance of reaching fluency in tight deadlines because they do it with a particular goal in mind and only for themselves. So, stop asking yourself if it is possible to learn a new language after 30

What English level is enough to navigate in travel?

You will most likely feel confident during your travels with a B1 English level. Such language proficiency implies speaking and listening abilities at the level that helps you maintain a simple conversation with no effort and understand pretty much everything from the context, even if you don't know some separate words. At this point, your vocabulary is limited to 1500-2000 words, but that is enough to manage a trip to a foreign country. Speaking and listening skills are the most important in English when you aim to use the language for travel purposes. Make sure you can understand fast speech and distinguish vital data about booking flights and places to stay, renting a car, buying tickets to museums and sightseeing, navigating the city, and ordering food. 

How to determine your level of English proficiency?

To get a better idea of your current English level, you should take a placement test. It will help you to rate your English proficiency in all basic language skills, such as reading, listening, speaking, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. It's a common thing that some English skills have been developed better than others. So, testing your English is the best way to discover your language strengths and areas for improvement. Therefore, we recommend you sign up at the Promova platform, take our test and get the complete evaluation from our certified English tutors before starting to learn again. 

What is the hardest language to learn?

You might find English challenging and struggle to learn it for some time now, but it's still not the most complex language. Keep in mind that there are over 7,100 spoken languages in the world. And if you think about languages where people use hieroglyphs instead of letters, you will get the point. According to multiple sources, the hardest language to learn is Mandarin Chinese. Written characters are difficult to memorize. Even Chinese people themselves don't know ever of 100,000 Mandarin characters. To be fair, you only need 3,000 to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently.  


PromovaJan 16th, 2024
It takes approximately 200 hours of guided learning to improve English skills by one level according to CEFR.
Tyler O.P.Jan 16th, 2024
According to the CEFR, how many hours of guided learning does it take to improve English skills by one level?
ISAACJul 25th, 2023
This article is a reassuring read for English learners like me)))