Do your students ask you this question? How do you answer them? It’s a new school year and in this episode, I encourage your English language learners. I explain exactly how long I think it will take them to speak and understand English comfortably.
Hey there, it’s a new school year and you are learning English. Do you ever wonder: “When will I be able to speak English well?” Do you think about that? Well, I have some good news for you! So sit back, relax, listen, and just try to understand as much as you can
“When will I be able to speak English well?” That’s a good question. I hear that a lot. Let me tell you some good news. Learning English is not difficult. Learning English is easy. It’s as easy as ABC! Yes, it’s easy. But learning English takes a long time in order to be able to understand and speak well!
Yes, learning English is easy. Here is some evidence. Here is the reason why learning English is easy. Babies and little children learn English! And by the time a little child is four years old, he or she speaks English well. All it takes is time. Hours. How many hours does it take to learn to speak English well? I think for you, either a child, teenager, or adult, who already speaks a language, I think it will take you 1000 hours. That’s right – 1000 hours, in order to be able to speak English well. Not to be an expert, not to be advanced, no. But to understand and speak, to communicate comfortably, comfortably well.
You might ask: “What should I do for 1000 hours? What do I practice? Do I practice speaking? Do I practice pronunciation? Do I practice grammar rules?” Nope. You don’t need to practice speaking in order to speak well. You do not need to practice pronunciation. You do not need to practice grammar. What you need to practice is ‘listening with understanding’. That is all babies do. They listen, they watch and they try to understand what is going on, what is being said, what is being communicated.
You might ask: “Do I have to understand every single word?”
No, you don’t need to understand every single word. You just need to understand the message, the general idea. And if you practice listening and watching and trying to understand, eventually the language will come out of your mouth, naturally.
The next question you might have is: “What do 1000 hours look like? How, how do I think about that?”
Let me give you an example. If you spend one hour every day: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, the work or school week. If you spend one hour, five days a week, at the end of the year, that’s about 260 hours. So at that rate, one hour a day, it would take you four years. If you spend two hours a day, it will take you two years. But if you spend four hours a day, you will reach 1000 hours in a year,
You might have the question – “How do I know that 1000 hours is enough?” Well, I’m not a scientist, but I know from my own experience working on Spanish, that right now I have 480 hours of listening and watching and some reading of Spanish. I just try to understand what I hear, what I see and what I read. Right now I have about 480 hours. My speaking is messy in many ways, but I believe, I think, that with another 500 hours I will be able to speak comfortably, understand everything almost and will feel comfortable with Spanish. So that is my theory. That is what I’m working on and you’ll have to tell me how it’s working for you. Remember it’s just hours, but hours of concentration, listening, watching, trying to understand what is being said. It’s not difficult. You do not have to be super smart. You just have to work hard by putting in the hours, practice listening and reading and understanding.
And if you are a language coach, teacher, tutor of some English learners, you can get the transcript of my content videos. And if that’s something that interests you, for free, go to my website, www.englishwithoutfear.com and sign up for my newsletter. When I receive your email address, you will go on my email list and for every episode, I send out two or three activities you can do in class with your students. I will begin to send out the written transcripts of everything I say. So, this is Maria from English without fear. Talk to you next time.