When will you be perfect in English?

A PhraseMix reader wrote to me recently about her problems with learning English, and I noticed this sentence:

My problem is that I can't apply for a job because I am not so perfect in English.

I thought it would be good to talk about this idea of "perfect in English". If you study English really hard using the best study methods like PhraseMix, how long will it take for you to become perfect? Six months? A year? Two years?

Actually, you will never be a perfect English speaker.

There's no such thing as speaking a language "perfectly". Native speakers don't speak perfectly. Take me as an example. Here are just a few of my flaws:

  • I don't know much about finance and economics, so I would be completely lost if I got a job at a big bank.
  • I sometimes mumble and don't pronounce words clearly, so people have to ask me to repeat myself.
  • There are words that I've read but never heard, so I pronounce them incorrectly.
  • Sometimes I don't know what to say in social situations.
  • I have a hard time understanding what people are saying when I watch British TV shows.
  • I've never been good at telling stories.

So we're in the same boat: neither of us are perfect English speakers.

On the other hand, think about all of the things that you can do in English. For example, you can read this article! That's amazing. You can probably do a lot of other things in English:

  • order dinner at a restaurant
  • ask someone where the bathroom is
  • talk about where you're from
  • understand a weather forecast on the news

That's a small list, but there are hundreds of other tasks that you could add to it.

Your job as an English speaker is not to become perfect. Your job is to identify something that you want to accomplish in English and practice that. If you want to go to a university, get some English university textbooks and start reading them. If you want to get a job as a salesperson, talk to English-speaking salespeople or watch videos of them on YouTube.

My point is that you shouldn't worry about becoming perfect, just about becoming better. And you shouldn't try to learn all of English, just the parts which are important for you.

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