How long does it take to learn English? How difficult is it to master it? Learning a new language can be a challenging but rewarding process. The difficulty of learning English as a non-native speaker can vary depending on several factors, including your prior language learning experience, the amount of time and effort you can devote to studying and practicing, and your specific goals for learning English.
What parts of English can be challenging to master and why?
- English can be challenging for some learners in terms of grammar due to its complex verb tenses, irregular verb forms, and diverse sentence structures.
- Vocabulary can also be a challenge, as English has a large and varied vocabulary with many words that have multiple meanings. You need anywhere between 2000 and 10000 words to speak English fluently, depending on your goal.
- Pronunciation can also be difficult for some learners, as English has sounds and stress patterns that may not exist in their native language. Also, various English dialects, such as British or American English, have different intonation and pronunciation patterns.
Your goal dictates how long it takes you to learn English
The amount of time it takes to become proficient in English will depend on the learner's goals and the intensity of their study. Most learners may achieve a basic level of proficiency in a few months with the consistent study. It is likely to take several years of consistent study and practice to reach an advanced level of proficiency.
It is also worth noting that different types of English may have different difficulty levels. For example, casual English, used in everyday conversation, may be easier to learn than business English, which is used in professional settings and may require a more formal language. Academic English (for example, if you want to study in the US or UK), used in academia and research, may be the most difficult to learn due to its specialized vocabulary and complex sentence structures.
Your native language and other languages you speak play an important role
Your native language and other languages you already speak can influence your learning and perception of English in many ways.
One way your native language can affect your learning of English is through transfer of certain language structures and rules.
For example, if your native language has a similar grammatical structure to English, such as subject-verb-object word order, you may find it easier to learn and understand English grammar.
On the other hand, if your native language has a very different grammatical structure, such as a different word order or a different system of verb tenses, you may find it more challenging to learn English grammar.
Another way your native language can influence your learning of English is through the transfer of vocabulary. If your native language and English share many cognates (related words similar in spelling and meaning), they may find it easier to learn English vocabulary. However, if a learner's native language and English have very few cognates, they may find it more challenging to learn English vocabulary.
And lastly, your native language can also influence your pronunciation of English, as certain sounds and stress patterns may not exist in your native language. This can make it more difficult (but possible!) for you to produce these sounds accurately when speaking English.
Useful resources to improve your English
We put together several resources, lists, and articles that could help you learn English faster:
- 7 strategies to improve your English speaking skills
- A definitive guide to top tenses of the English language
- 21 best sites, tools, and resources to improve English grammar
- How to use YouTube to learn English effectively (+ 10 recommended channels)
Parting words - consistency is the key
While many aspects of the English language can be difficult to master, such as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and speaking skills, with consistent effort and dedication, anyone can become proficient in English. The amount of time it takes to reach a certain proficiency level will depend on your goals, prior language learning experience, and the intensity of your study. Whether you are learning English for casual communication, professional purposes, or academic pursuits, it is possible to achieve your goals with hard work and determination. So don't let the challenges discourage you, and remember that with enough effort, anyone can learn English. So, don't give up and keep trying.