Everyone knows that practice makes perfect.
My goal in life is having my students achieve that perfection in English. The way they get there is what intrigues me: What’s the best way? How to keep them engaged throughout the whole process? I want them to improve faster and make it easier. But unfortunately I haven’t yet found that shortcut, that shorter road to learning. Apparently, learning English takes time.
The 10,000-hour rule
In 2008, top sociologist and academic Macolm Gladwell claimed that you must spend 10,000 hours honing your skills if you want to be a success at anything. Gladwell stated you need to put in this time over a decade to get to the top of your chosen field. According to his theory, top-athletes Tiger Woods and the Venus sisters became world-beaters because of the obsessive devotion they showed to their game since childhood.
As an EFL teacher I am obviously obsessed with the amount of hours you need in order to master a second language, so that got me thinking: 10,000 hours? That’s like 2,000 hours per level of English. That’s a lot.
Do we really need to study 10,000 of English classes in order to master the language? The answer is MAY BE, but maybe NO.
- The stories told by Mr. Gladwell are success stories that stand head and shoulders above the elite performers in their industry. The best of the best.
- Most EFL students will never need a total MASTERY level, but mainly an Upper-Intermediate one.
- Most EFL students start from a Pre-Intermediate level.
Most English courses will offer you to finish a whole level in no more than 120 hours of class, which is right. This may mean going from a Basic level to an Upper-Intermediate level in about 2.5 years, depending on how often you take classes.
But consider that every person’s experience of learning English is different. Adults may be better at reading and writing to begin with. But children are faster to pick up speaking and listening. Age is a very important factor in language acquisition.
In any case, the rule would NOT apply as 10,000 hours of English Class but it would mean that English Learning is not just receiving classes. It requires longer hours of practice.
Hours of practice may include:
- sending and receiving emails in English at work
- having any sort of conversation or interaction in English, inside or outside the class.
- podcast, films, videos and all types of audiovisual content in English
- reading books or blogs you enjoy in English
Learning English is more than just a class. In fact, it is what you do outside the class what really counts. Research shows that the most important part of the class is actually applying what was learned into real life. What’s the point of learning some structure or set of vocabulary if you’re never going to use it again?
Nobody gets great results without dedication. Even though it won’t take you 10,000 hours to learn English, you need to find ways of practicing your English as a complementary work for your improvement.
Hope you enjoy each and every hour.