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Proficiency?? There’s More to the Story!

Proficiency?? There’s More to the Story. Article 9


      The burning question is: How Long Does It Take to Become Proficient for English Speech? 

     Here’s more of the story.  Becoming highly proficient in  AE (American English) speech communication includes  more than skills for accurate pronunciation and enunciation of  AE consonant and vowels. But the fact is, if you don’t have that, then the other proficiency skills are not worth a hill of beans.

      Critical is that proficiency means mastering AE word syllable accent stress for multiple syllable words.

     Critical is mastering AE voice inflection so your connected speech (sentences) are NOT monotone, flat and boring.  Critical are the multiple voice inflection techniques to help listeners understand and remember your information.  This is career changing.  Experts consider voice inflection to be the critical  communication skill  to boosting your career.

      Proficiency means being able to determine the pronunciation of unfamiliar multiple syllable words.  Fact is, each profession has its own core vocabulary and employs other  current vocabularies, such as from business, psychology, sociology, and tech, etc. So you need accurate pronunciation of many multiple syllable words for proficiency in English speaking communication.

The keystone here is mastery of  dividing into syllables written words to be proficient in pronouncing unfamiliar multiple syllable words.  Just so you know,  there are eight basic rules for written words and the essential skill of recognizing roots.

     Proficiency means being able to determine the meaning of words, especially multiple syllable words, with solid learning of roots, root words, stems  and prefixes and suffixes which primarily come from proto-German, Norman French, French, and Latin origins. Sorry guys, English is a polyglot!

      There are many levels of learning – skill sets—for proficient English communication.   Proficiency includes mastering the most important presentation skills, including persuasive techniques. Notably, presentation skills are typically not taught in the U.S. until latter high school at the earliest, and college.  Persuasive speech communication is university level learning.

      Recall that numerous motor skills are best learned through extensive repetition of proper form—that’s deliberate practice.    Proficiency in accurate, intelligible, and pleasing to the ear, easy to understand and remember information  AE speech is also best learned through extensive repetition of “proper form” ( “It’s not practice makes perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect.”)  

      What does “best learned” mean?  It’s what most people want — efficiency in time and  long lasting learning.

       So here is the deal.  Based on our experience (more than 20 years) and expertise,(almost 1000 different human beings from more than 60 countries and first languages), our scientific assessments (pre course, mid course, and post course) ,  and our past and present deep academic research into multiple topics including motor skill development for the human body, motor skill development for speech (and English), English clear speech, deliberate practice, procedural learning (that’s what acquiring English speech is), linguistics, “deeper” learning, learning methodologies including mastery learning — Antonia Johnson simply loves to learn– we propose the following.  Humans need to get perhaps 10 years of practice and likely 4,000 to 8,000 hours of practice under their belts to become highly proficient in American English speech communication. 


Does this seem impossible? 10 years and likely between 4,000 and 8,000 hours of practice?


Here’s why this is NOT impossible. What is important is how to calculate that “10 years of practice” and the likely between 4,000 and 8,000 hours of practice to become proficient in English speech communication.

DO THIS: include in your calculation your prior instruction in your home country and other English speech instruction perhaps in North America, or France, or Germany, etc. That might add up as much as 5 to 7 years. Then include the amount of time in hours of your taking every opportunity to deliver clear English speech communication in daily life, Then add in any other deliberate practice of clear English speech– maybe  for getting ready for a presentation.  All those hours count.  Every deliberate practice in hours counts!

Fact is, you are closer to proficiency than you think.

Then take a concentrated look at your English speech communication skill. What is missing? Sometimes that self-analysis is painful. But do it.

THEN focus on what is missing or needs to be better..

        Then remember this — Concentrated deliberate practice  using the distributed practice schedule is the most efficient route to acquiring proficiency in English skill sets.   The sequencing of those skill sets can make the mastery easy. 

Moderate and high proficiency is the goal for high satisfaction for career and daily life.  

Just so you know– minimum proficiency for most professions  which use English is 50% whole word intelligibility.  Is that proficiency? Not. And that is also why organizations are generally happy to finance or pay the tuition for efficient and long lasting instruction for English speech communication.

50% whole word intelligibility is minimum.  Notably, 50% means that listeners are working hard to understand.   Frustration and miscommunication are collateral damage at 50% intelligibility. That is recognized by the English talker and supervisors. (More later.)