While miming the action of pulling a magic pill from my pocket or a rabbit from a hat, I often tell my students that I can’t ‘give’ them English. This often comes as both a surprise and a disappointment to them and I can understand that; after all we live in a world of Twitter, Instagram and Movies-on-Demand. It is no wonder that students expect an ‘Instant English’ experience when attending an English language course.
However, the magic of acquiring a new language is found in the process of learning it, not in the result. The truth is that you will spend a lifetime learning a language, even if it’s your mother tongue. I am a native speaker with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Linguistics and Teaching English and I still learn something new about the language every day.
So, despite the advancement of new technology and its influence on language learning and translation, it is important to understand (and enjoy) the fact that you cannot learn English in a week. Experts differ on how long it takes to learn a new language but Cambridge English exam specialists estimate that it takes about 600 hours of guided study to reach B2 (Upper Intermediate) from Beginner level and another 400 – 600 hours to reach Proficiency level. 
It is, of course, important to understand that many factors may affect the time it takes for a learner to become fluent or proficient in a language, including motivation, aptitude, intelligence, attitude, personality, self-confidence, age and previous language learning experience. What is agreed, is that it does take time!
If you’re ready to start learning English or just frustrated by your current progress, remember to take a deep breath and understand that language learning is a slow and difficult process only made easier by your determination and willingness to put in those hours of practice. Finally, try to have fun while you learn by watching movies, playing English games, chatting to strangers, going on trips with native speakers and listening to music. Good luck and take your time.
If you would like to learn more about the English courses offered at the UCT English Language Centre, or let us guide you in choosing the right course for you, then contact us or check out our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn accounts to find out more about us, what we do and what are students experience with us.