How long does it take to learn English? Stanford University conducted a study to answer this question. The school found that it takes people from 3 to 5 years to become orally proficient when taking ESL classes in Las Vegas, while developing academic English proficiency takes from 4 years to 7 years. ESL classes in Las Vegas can help you communicate in the English language.

About the Stanford Study
The study’s information is intriguing since other studies disagree with Stanford’s findings. California passed Proposition 227 more than two decades ago. The proposition was established to replace the state’s many different bilingual education programs. Under Proposition 227, children would only have to spend one year in a classroom with “sheltered English.” After the year, the system would put them into regular classrooms. If they couldn’t understand the teacher, their parents would have to consider putting them in ESL classes. The proposition gave researchers a way to assess how much time it takes people to learn how to speak English.

While the technique seemed to work well at first, researchers found that it hurt these children more than it helped them. Professors Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier completed an in-depth study on people acquiring language skills. The two researchers collected samples from 700,000 English language learners from 1982 to 1996.

They used the information to determine the amount of time that it took students without an English background to speak English like a native on assessment tests. During the study, the professors considered programs that were English only and bilingual.

When the researchers reviewed the results of the students who were in a quick learning English immersion study program that taught them only in English, they found that the students improved their language skills enormously from kindergarten to third grade.

The study also found that students from fourth grade to middle school and high school didn’t perform as well. In fact, they dropped under the 50th percentile. The schoolwork during these years is much more challenging. Researchers determined that the progress change was because English language learners generally see an average gain of 6 months to 8 months each school year, while native English speakers typically see an average gain of 10 months every school year. The disparity between English language learners and native language speakers increased from 4th grade until they reached high school.

When Thomas and Collier reviewed the Developmental Bilingual and the Two-Way Bilingual Immersion programs, they found that students in these ESL classes reached the 50th percentile in English and their native language by the time they were in the 4th grade or the 5th grade in every subject. Along with this, the students in these programs could maintain their English language gains and reach a higher-than-usual performance level than native-English speakers as they progressed through their secondary school years.

The English Proficiency Levels

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Before entering adult ESL classes, future students should determine and consider their current English language speaking level. In 1990, the Common European Framework for Languages created a standardized form. The levels are:

  • A1
  • A2
  • B1
  • B2
  • C1
  • C2

The A1 level is considered the breakthrough level. To be considered at an A1 proficiency, students must be able to introduce themselves and share personal information with people, such as their address, age, or name. They should also be able to ask these types of questions. Under the A1 proficiency level, students can communicate in basic ways when the communication is slow and careful. A1 proficiency students use common phrases and popular expressions. The average study time needed to reach A1 proficiency is 80 or more hours.

The A2 proficiency level is an elementary one. Students who have A2 proficiency are able to speak English in plain and routine ways. They can write basic phrases and use simple terminology and sentence structures. With A2 proficiency, students can speak in English about things that are relevant to what they’re doing. Using basic sentences, they can talk about shopping, working, and their lifestyle. The average study time needed for A2 proficiency is 180 or more hours.

A B1 proficiency level is referred to as threshold intermediate. Those with B1 English language proficiency can handle time issues that happen in places where English is spoken. They can use basic elements of fluency to bring up familiar topics. With B1 proficiency, students are able to speak about the main happenings in their everyday life as well as the finer details. For instance, they can discuss aspects of their work and school life.

To be considered proficient at the B1 level, students must be able to give reasons in English for what they’re thinking and why they’re making particular plans. They may still be using simple wording, but they can communicate effectively. They’ll be able to tell people why they want certain things or why they want to go to specific places. The average study time needed for B1 proficiency is 350 or more hours.

Students with a B2 English language proficiency are considered at an upper intermediate level. At this level, they can understand the more complex reading. They are comfortable reading and are able to communicate with native English speakers without significant issues. Those with a B2 language proficiency have the ability to write and speak with others at a high level on unfamiliar subjects or new ones. The average number of hours needed to reach B2 speaking proficiency is 500 or more.

If a student receives a C1 English language proficiency rating, then they are at an operational level. Those who are at this level are able to understand implications and determine particular meanings. They use English well when they are working, learning, and communicating socially. Students at a C1 level are close to being fluent in the language. The average number of hours needed to achieve C1 English language proficiency is 700 or more.

A person considered a C2 English language proficient almost functions at the same level as a native English-speaking person. People with this rating have the ability to manage complicated language situations and communicate with others quickly and accurately, and they understand intricate conversations and texts easily. To reach C2 English language proficiency, students must study for 1,000 or more hours.

The Factors that Impact How Quickly You Learn to Speak English

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The factors impacting how quickly you learn English in Las Vegas include age. As people age, their brains begin losing plasticity, which is the ability to reorder information. This means that children can store language more effectively than adults can.

Learning a new language as an adult does come with advantages. For instance, adults have cognitive maturity and the ability to distinguish and compare the structure of languages.

The amount of time you have to study will also affect how quickly you learn English. The reason you want to learn the language will also impact how fast your adult ESL classes work.

The UCEDA School

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If you are ready to learn English in Las Vegas, consider attending the UCEDA school. At our school, you’ll learn from the beginning, intermediate, and advanced English instructors. With us, you’ll be able to start from where your English language proficiency is at now. Contact us at 702-586-3131.

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