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How Long Does It Take English Learners to Attain Proficiency

by Clay Mann

If you are learning English, you may wonder how long it will take to attain proficiency in it. English being an international language, appears to be essential for your communication. Especially, if you are not a native speaker and moving abroad, you need to excel in the language. 


In an English country, you have to communicate in the language whether you are buying groceries or searching apartments for rent in Concord, CA. To make your life easier, it's essential to be proficient in English. Let's explore how long it will take you to excel at it. 

How long does it take to learn conversational English? 

When you start learning English as a beginner, you will be able to command conversational English within one to three years. Conversational English is not that complex and it is easier to have conversations with others in English. But that is not the case with educational English. Educational English is more complex and difficult than conversational English.

How long does it take to learn conversational English? 

To become proficient in conversational English, students have to get command over grammar, sentence making, etc. This language appears in their textbooks, tests, lessons, etc., and is more abstract and less concrete than conversational English. That is the reason it takes more time to become proficient in educational English. 

Research has shown that it takes four to seven years for English learners to become proficient in English. This is a general time frame and does not necessarily apply to all learners. How long it will take an English learner to attain proficiency depends on the learner’s abilities and capabilities. The learning abilities of every student are not the same. Some learners may take less than four years to attain proficiency in English. While some may not be able to do so even in seven years. 

Role of educators

The role of educators is important to improve the English learning abilities of students. Educators should encourage and support their students and also create a challenging environment for them. In this way, the students will be able to excel in English reading, writing, and speaking. By becoming proficient in English, students will also be able to excel in other subjects like mathematics, science, etc.

Sometimes students, or maybe even some teachers, use the 4 – 7 years timeframe as an excuse, to justify the poor progress in English learning. You should not blame this often-cited time range and use each and every day to excel in English learning. 

Ways to enhance English learning

Educators and teachers have to think of ways by which they can help their children excel in English learning. There are two ways educators can enhance the English learning abilities of their students.

Learning students’ potential

The teachers should learn the potential of their students. What are their abilities and capabilities? What are the areas they are good at? What are their weak points? What are they passionate about? When teachers learn these things about their students, they can help them excel in their learning. 

Engage with their families

The teachers have to engage with the families of their students. It will be helpful to discuss with the parents their children’s progress. You can also discuss which areas need more effort. When there is a healthy bond between teachers and parents, it will help the students to excel in their English language learning.

How to accelerate academic English learning 

Here are some points that can be helpful to accelerate the academic English learning of students:

  • Encourage students

Teachers can hold one on one sessions with their students. You can discuss their test results in these sessions. Discuss the weak points of their assessments. You can also advise them on how they can accelerate their learning. You can point out their weaknesses and give them pointers on how they can overcome those weak points. In this way, you can encourage students to own their results and strive to excel more in their learning.

  • Connect with parents

Most parents want their children to excel in their learning and become proficient in English. But many of them would not know how the learning system works. You should keep in contact with parents and tell them how they can help their children in the learning process. You can teach them how important proficiency tests are for the education career of their children. This way, you can ensure students take their tests seriously and won’t be absent from tests. 

  • Invite seniors for motivation

You can invite seniors from high school to motivate elementary and middle school students. These seniors can help the students understand why they need to excel in English. Why English proficiency tests are important for their education. As a matter of fact, students pay more attention to what their seniors say. That is because they have already passed the phase they are in and they have already experienced the hardships they are facing now. In this way, students can get motivated to attain proficiency in English.

  • Explain the importance of proficiency tests

When students spend years learning English, they may become complacent. You should explain to them how important proficiency tests are. Why should they not take proficiency tests lightly? What impact will these tests have on their education? That way they will take these tests seriously.


Students need academic proficiency for their academic careers and may achieve proficiency in less than four years. If you want students to attain proficiency as early as possible, encourage them and motivate them to focus on their learning.


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