We are often asked how long an adult should take to learn a new language. Many of us have heard that it’s easier for children to learn to speak a new language but what about an adult? Cruising the internet, you find ads that promise to teach you a new language in just a few months. In reality, it generally takes 7 to 8 years of consistent study to become fluent in a new language. There are a lot of factors that can change that estimate including the amount of education you have had access to in the past, the time you have to study, and more.
If you have had access to a wonderful educational system in your youth, good nutrition, and free time to study, it will take you less time than a person who has not had those privileges. That is why when volunteering to teach an adult to speak, read, or write English, it’s important to consider their background.
Here at Manatee Literacy, when a new learner comes to our organization we give them a quick assessment of their current English skills. After the initial assessment, we then align the learner with one of four levels of programming best suited to help them succeed in learning to speak, write, and read English. Those levels are Fundamental, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. Each level has at least two programs developed to help our learners achieve their goals. We assume that it will take at least 500 hours, or 10 hours a week, to commit to learning English. That’s a lot more than most of our learners have time for, but we do require they can commit at least 3 hours a week to improve their English reading, writing, and speaking skills. We look for a 25% improvement, year over year.
Our learners that have more time to commit to learning English are the most successful. Our tutors and volunteer teachers work hard to provide the very best instruction to help each learner meet their goals. We are pleased to have seen our learners move through the levels as well as achieve personal goals of getting new jobs, acquiring their citizenship, and so much more. It is possible to learn to speak English fluently – it just takes practice! If you are interested in checking out a cool white paper titled “A critical period for second language acquisition: Evidence from 2/3 million English speakers” by clicking here.
Thanks for reading,