¿How many guided hours does it take to learn a language? There is an estimate to be used as reference.

For a big online project we’ve been developing, we needed a reference of the minimun number of hours a student needs to work to obtain a new level when learning a language.
Why? Because we needed a minimum from which to build some online course.

In case someone needs this too, here is what we found out.

If you ask this question to a teacher, he/she will be sceptical to say the least. And with good reason.

Several questions arise when trying to measure this.

1) what reference should we use to measure proficiency in a language .
2) Not all hours are of the same quality.

It seems logical, nowadays, to use the CEFR of languages for question number one. It is not perfect, but it is well known and used.

There is no easy answer for question number two. We all know some people learn faster than others, some hours are of more quality than others, and some students get stuck on certain levels where others don’t. But we just need a reference to work on, so we will consider a minimum and so anything above that is considered a benefit. And we will talk about guided hours.

What do me mean by “guided hours”?

When giving this reference, most educational centers talk about “guided hours“. These are the hours spent with a tutor or teacher, where teaching or student assesment is being done. It does not include the hours a student my need to do on his own. Student hours, plus guided hours, compose the Total Qualification Time (TQT).

But for an onlie project we really need to consider the guided hours.

How many guided hours does it take to reach each level?

There are various guides depending on the language and the center which provides the reference. But we will be using Cambridge’s estimate.

CEFR Level Cambridge English Exam Number of Hours (approximate)
C2 C2 Proficiency – previously known as Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE) 1,000—1,200
C1 C1 Advanced – previously known as Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) 700—800
B2 B2 First – previously known as Cambridge English: First (FCE) 500—600
B1 B1 Preliminary – previously known as Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET) 350—400
A2 A2 Key – previously known as Cambridge English: Key (KET) 180—200

As you see, it takes about 200 hours to advance from A1-A2. 200 hours to get to B1 from A2. 200 hours to get to B2, 200 to C1 and 400 for C2.

Again, these are hours with a teacher. Not the study and research hours which the student must, inevitably do in addition to these.


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