How long did it take you to learn proper English or proper Spanish?

A friend of mine took him 10 years to learn Spanish and other friend of mine took him 8 years to learn English. This is talking, writing, grammar and reading at an advance high school level, not a basic collage level 101 English but a advance high level. It probably take him other two or threes years to improve to basic collage level.

I hear Spanish takes 8 to 10 years to learn and English 5 to 8 years and some times 10 years to learn.

Well you can learn English or Spanish in three years with just enough to get by, but your writing, grammar,vocabulary and reading level will be really low. And the high school kids will be way better than you.

I’m not sure that “reading level” is accurate, though. I can read pretty much anything in Spanish nearly as well as I can read English. Writing? Not so well, as I’m lazy and never pursued it beyond immediate needs.

If you start to get into domain specific aspects of the language rather than general “grade-level” stuff, well, then I’d have the same issues in Spanish as I would have in English: I wouldn’t understand much about, say, advanced theories of quantum thermodynamics in either language.

I still haven’t learned proper English despite it being my native tongue. I can kind of get by in Spanish, French, and German but it isn’t proper and requires a lot of hand waving and pointing.

How long it takes to learn a language depends directly on your age. If you’re younger than 12, it will take 6 months or less, if you are in your teens it may take ~2 years, if you are in full adulthood it could take 10 years. It has to do with brain plasticity, which is directly proportional to age.

Exactly. I first took Spanish in my senior year of high school, when I was 17, but didn’t learn to really speak it. I took other classes in graduate school and from a tutor in the US, but I didn’t become fluent until I moved to Panama and had to use it every day. But since I was 41 when I moved here I won’t ever become fully bilingual, like I might have if I had lived here earlier.

5 years or 5 words, depending on how you count. Story told many times before.
We first got ESL in 4th grade. “Johnny is under the table” for an enormous amount of people my age, that being the first line in those books that so many of our schools had.

Next year, my school got a large influx of new students, so we restarted. Once again, that asshole Johnny was under the bloody table. We never got to find out exactly why was he there, but the most popular theory establishes that he was trying to look at Jane’s legs.

The following three years involved a teacher who still lamented not being allowed to cane students. We learned more about how to be able to stand in the corner of the classroom for whatever remained of the class, without getting additional punishment, than about vocabulary or grammar.

9th grade we got Micaela, blessed be her name for all generations. First day she asks “ok, you’ve all taken English for 4 or 5 years. Do you like it?”
Chorus of students who had a problem with authority: “NO!”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s all memory, when we ask why or how we’re told ‘just learn it, there’s no logic to it’. And it’s very different from Spanish.”
“Is it?”
And she wrote on the blackboard:
“Gee, I’d say it’s just the same!”

After picking our jaws back from the floor, a bunch of students who had previously barely passed English started getting 90-100% grades as if they were made of water. The following summer I went to Ireland for a month; I was made to repeat the placement exam because “it’s not possible that a first-timer will have placed in the advanced group!”, to which my response was “yes it is, because Micaela!”

I hear that they changed the placement exam the following year, instead of considering that maybe they should change the way our first two teachers taught :rolleyes:

The difficulty of learning a language depends on how similar it is to one’s native language. Learning Spanish should be pretty easy if you grew up speaking Italian. Spanish is much harder for someone who grew up speaking Chinese.

Or any other language you already know. I only know one word in Dutch (danku, thank you) but I’ve been known to read documents in Dutch just fine thanks to familiarity with English and German.

Well I don’t know if it true or not or if it is like that with most people,:eek::eek: but from what I read and some of my friends it takes on average 5 to 8 years to be really good at English at a high school level. Some people it can take 8 to 10 years to be at high school level of English.

I don’t think it has as much to do with plasticity as it does an innate ability to acquire language. It’s not as if everything is learned more easily as a child.

Or,m to put it another way, there’s more plasticity for language acquisition.

It takes most native English speakers 14 to 18 years to learn English at high school level. That is, we reach proficiency at the freshman level when we enter high school, and we get to the senior level by the time we graduate.

Similarly I can get by reading Portuguese, Italian, and French fairly well due to my familiarity with English and Spanish. (I repaired my water heater because the French manual from Belgium was the only one I could find online!) And depending on the part of Italy the speaker is from, Spanish and Italian are kind mutually intelligible.

Dutch is interesting. In a crowed, it sounds like English to me. You know how in a restaurant (for example) there’s always murmur from other tables? Dutch murmur sounds just like English murmur.

I think reading, writing, spelling, grammar and types of speeches is lot harder to learn than simple English. So 10 years or more to get to a high school level or basic college level English does not sound too unrealistic.

But I know some ESL students who done it in three years. Very simple basic English at 4th grade level.

Here is English of how long it takes to learn English by the use of bull’s-eye target.
[li]250 words constitute the essential core of a language, those without which you cannot construct any sentence.[/li][li] 750 words constitute those that are used every single day by every person who speaks the language.[/li][li] 2500 words constitute those that should enable you to express everything you could possibly want to say, albeit often by awkward circumlocutions.[/li][li] 5000 words constitute the active vocabulary of native speakers without higher education.[/li][li] 10,000 words constitute the active vocabulary of native speakers with higher education.[/li][li] 20,000 words constitute what you need to recognize passively in order to read, understand, and enjoy a work of literature such as a novel by a notable author.[/li][/ul]

Street-Smart Language Learning™: How many words do you need to know in a foreign language?

Well this not take in say writing and grammar. But if you know what these words mean and can spell it than writing and grammar is the next step.

Well the +5,000 words are probably more what you will find at college level. Well knowing any where from say 2,000 to 5,000 words you probably could get by at 9th grade level English.

I wonder, though, what it means to “know” a language? Speaking, reading, and writing are all entirely different uses of the language. I tested at college level reading comprehension in fourth grade, but there was no way I was capable of writing at that level, or even having a conversation. When reading there’s a lot that can be understood via context. An ESL student can often understand things he or she can’t say. I understand written and spoken Spanish of all levels readily, but my syntax gets kind of awkward when I want to use advanced language constructs. When speaking I can do this fluidly and fluently because, hey, it’s speech. I hate writing complicated things in Spanish, because although I know Spanish, there’s a big difference between understanding input and generating output.

This is the case in English, too, at least unless I want to take forever when I write. It’s so much quicker and easier to use the first word or concept that pops into one’s mind than to search your learned vocabulary for something more succinct, accurate, or descriptive of your exact meaning. If I were to take that time, the person that I’m writing too probably wouldn’t even understand the subtle difference between my hastily chosen word and what might have been le mot juste.

Because language is used for so many facets of our life, I ask the question, what is the standard for determining whether one is fluent in a particular language at a certain level?

Six months for Latin American Spanish. I was 22 at the time. The Army made me do it. If I remember correctly, I was graded 3/2+/3 for listening/speaking/reading.

I’m 42 now and haven’t used it. I can still translate for my wife when we’re watching a movie and some dude(tte) says something in Spanish, and I can still read it, but speaking it would be ugly.

10 years to learn a language? No way.

Also, it’s a misconception that children learn faster. Take a newborn and an adult and give both nothing else to do than learn a language they don’t know. The adult will be speaking it to some degree before the baby gets to its first word. ~ < age 10 children also don’t learn as efficiently as adults because they don’t understand the basics of grammar so they can’t be explained grammatical rules to much effect.

However, kids do pick up the pronunciation much more readily than adults do.

When I started learning Spanish my frustration was that the grammar is too dissimilar to Dutch, German and English so I couldn’t really pick up the language just by listening, I really had to learn the verbs and conjugations the hard way. I was/am pretty bad at Spanish but then again I only did audio/podcast lessons for a few months and then classes for another few months. I’m sure I could have learned enough to get by in daily life in a year. (Although of course living in Madrid helped.)

English isn’t too hard for us Dutch speakers, but I think it takes anyone a decade to learn how to spell it. And should you think that’s normal, it isn’t. In a language like Spanish everything is pretty much written the way you say it and said the way you write it. In Dutch and German the latter, but not always the former. And even French has some method to the madness.

:confused: I’m not sure what the point is, here. Can you clarify this, Nava? Why was this such an epiphany?

Some intelligent native English speakers never learn to spell well. The horribly irregular spelling is one of the hardest things to learn about the language. It also presents a barrier to learning English by reading, since one often can’t recognize a word by how it’s spelled.

I think there is some thing very wrong with English language if it takes a person 10 years to bring you to a high school level of English or basic level of collage English. And 15 to 20 years to bring you to advance college or university level.

Any language that takes more than 6 years to learn there is some thing really wrong with the language. I understand that English is old language and that may be why it takes so long to learn. But I’m surprised we have not simplified it over the years.

English grammar is pretty simple. And you can get buy mispronouncing and misspelling stuff fairly badly. (It’s not as if there’s an agreed upon standard for either, anyway.) So learning English is mostly a question of learning the vocabulary. Learn a few new words every day and you’ll be abusing the language in no time.