How Long Does it Take to Learn English?

Setting realistic goals is the key to success for many things in life. Whether it’s committing to a fitness regime or learning a new language, the beginning can be exciting but overwhelming. Seeing real progress and hitting targets along the way is often what keeps you motivated to continue.

How long will it take me to learn English?

This is one of the most common questions new learners have. Because everyone learns at a slightly different pace, there is often no easy answer. To attain complete, native-level fluency could take a lifetime of dedication and practice. But the good news is, learning to communicate effectively in English—for travel, work or studies abroad—may not take as long as you think.

At EF English Live, we’re proud to be the experts in helping busy professionals and students to learn quickly and flexibly. Learning English online with us allows you to set your own study schedule and rate of progression. So if you’re wondering how long it takes to become fluent, the answer is really up to you.

To give you a better idea of what’s achievable, we’ve designed a clever tool that will show you what you can learn at the 1-month, 3-month, 6-month and 12-month points in your studies. We call it the Fluency Calculator . It’s totally personalised and bases its results on your current English level, learning motivation and available study time each week.

How does an online English school work?

This is another common question. To better understand how long it takes to learn English with us, it helps to better understand how our course is structured.

EF English Live’s General English curriculum spans 16 fluency levels. These levels map to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) standards of English in the following way:

  • Levels 1 – 3 = CEFR Level A1 (Beginner)

  • Levels 4 – 6 = CEFR Level A2 (Elementary)

  • Levels 7 – 9 = CEFR Level B1 (Intermediate)

  • Levels 10 -12 = CEFR Level B2 (Upper Intermediate)

  • Levels 13 – 15 = CEFR Level C1 (Advanced)

  • Level 16 = CEFR Level C2 (Mastery)

According to the CEFR framework , individuals who have attained a B2 level of English proficiency, “Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party”. For many learners, this level of functional fluency is a great goal.

study English

To find out how long it will take you to achieve your goal, it will help to understand how each level within our school works. Each of our 16 levels is divided into 6 study units. These 6 units are further broken down into 4 practical lessons. Within each lesson, you’ll complete a number of quick language-learning activities called steps.

It may sound complicated, but by breaking down your course into achievable modules, you can learn something new in each study session. Our academic team estimates that each unit should take around 3 to 4 dedicated study hours to complete, meaning a full level should take between 18 and 24 study hours.

While everyone learns differently, our most successful students find that they can retain what they’ve learned better by studying consistently in short bursts, rather than in long “cram” sessions. They also find supplementing their core online lessons with live classes with our online teachers really supports—and accelerates—their progress.

So, how long it will take you to learn English? Get an overview of your learning path with our free Fluency Calculator , or find out more about your course options EF English Live.