How long will it take for my child to learn English?

Learning a new language takes time and each child will learn at his/her own pace. Children can go through different stages as they learn a new language. Below are some typical phases that children go through:

  • Silent Period: Some children, when exposed for the first time to a new language, do not talk much and only listen. This period can last only a few hours or go on for a year.
  • Early Production: The child understands more than they can say. They are starting to use single words or short phrases to communicate.
  • Speech Emergence: The child is starting to have simple conversations. They still make some errors.
  • Intermediate Fluency: The child is starting to use complex sentences, communicate their thoughts, ask for clarification, and long conversations.
  • Advanced Fluency: Advanced fluency means the speaker is able to perform in academic and other formal settings both verbally and through reading and writing.

(See a video Illustration of the Different Stages of English Development at

How can I help my child learn English?

  • Give the child many, many meaningful and enjoyable opportunity to participate in social interactions in English. If the child is not ready to speak, don't pressure him/her.
  • Use concepts that your child knows in the home language to teach similar concepts in English.
  • If the teacher does not speak your home language, teach him/her a few sentences to use with your child.
  • You can also ask the teacher to pair your child with another child who speaks your home language.

More Resources:

Visit Colorín Colorado, a website for families and educators of English language learners to learn more strategies.

For more information about acquiring English as a second language, please visit

For more information on what is "normal" and what is not when learning English, please visit


              Español/Spanish                          中文/Chinese