How many hours does it take to be fluent in English?

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Reed James
Local time: 02:27
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Learning cannot always be measured in hours Jul 24, 2013

The article makes it sound like if a person studies for a certain number of hours, then he/she will automatically become proficient enough at English to meet the requirements. This is far from true. It all depends on the person's motivation, age and native language. What 360 hours will do wonders for one person will barely scratch the surface for another.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:27
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, I agree with you. Jul 25, 2013

I think it will probably take 5-8 years for quite a talented (linguistically) person to learn English well, provided they spent at least a year or two in an English-speaking country. I was thinking about speakers of the languages from other language groups-- not Germanic. It may take slightly less for the speakers of the Germanic languages.

[Edited at 2013-07-25 08:14 GMT]

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George Hopkins
Local time: 06:27
Swedish to English
Same in all languages? Jul 25, 2013

There is no simple answer to the main question.

It´s probably the same in all languages.
To speak a language without a foreign accent you have to learn it before the age of about 11 years; but then what does fluent mean?

I´ve been learning Swedish for donkey`s years and my wife still corrects me now and then -- but correcting her partner is a wife´s prerogitive (nice word for the fluent speaker).

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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:27
Finnish to English
Forever Jul 25, 2013

I'd say

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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:27
German to Swedish
+ ...
Couple of decades Jul 25, 2013

"Fluent"? Starting from scratch at birth, it takes about 20 years.
Add another 10 or 20 years to get a truly broad vocabulary and general stylistic good taste.

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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:27
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
How long is a piece of string? Jul 25, 2013

Well, I don't think there is answer on a postcard for this one!

From my own personal experience, it took me 4 years at secondary school, plus 6 years in Higher Education, 9 months living in France, two years living in Spain, and then 15 years of further individual study and work in the languages to become remotely fluent in French and Spanish.

As for English, well I would say at least 10 - 12 years. However learning a language and becoming truly fluent can take a lifetime.

[Edited at 2013-07-25 16:51 GMT]

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