Online Language Learning- Is it the Future of Linguistics?

by Marek on April 19, 2013

Online Language Learning

 

Online Language Learning

Language is a universal tool for communication that has been around for ages, and has since evolved into several different forms based on unique cultures and histories. For the most part, people learn languages for the purpose of connecting with other human beings, particularly within the context of scholastic as well as professional advancement.
These days, people are more inclined to acquire foreign languages as they realize the infinite advantages of being multi-lingual. For many, online language learning is the perfect method of acquiring a foreign language, since it offers convenience and flexibility that cannot be expected from any other forms of instruction.

What is Online Language Learning and How Does it Work?

This method of foreign language acquisition involves the use of any and all online resources in order to learn how to speak one or more languages other than one’s native tongue. This is basically a self-teaching method that has become increasingly popular over the past decade or so, especially with the amazing speed at which information can be acquired and exchanged these days.

Advantages of Online-Based Language Learning

Convenience

While there are so many people who want to learn a new language, very few have the time or the energy to pursue a course in languages or linguistics especially in the case of fully employed individuals. Internet-based lessons allow people to learn a language on their own time, without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes. Most online language tutorials and programs these days offer flexible schedules so that anyone can take up lessons during their free time.

Cost Efficiency

Money is almost always a factor to consider when contemplating learning another language. The cost of enrolling at a college or university can run into several thousand dollars, which is not at all ideal for people on a tight budget, or those who have families to support. Learning a language via the internet is a cheaper alternative since the courses only cost a few hundred dollars or so. In addition, several websites provide free information how to learn to speak different languages without even having to spend a dime out of pocket.

Varied Learning Tools and Resources Available

Choosing to use the internet in order to learn a language would entail using various tools such as instructional audios and videos, eBooks, and even online games. The use of multiple media does not only provide excellent instruction but it also makes the experience less tedious, which is not the case if you sit in a classroom listening to lectures that may run for several hours.
In the old days, the most interactive learning medium you can expect when learning a language is audiocassette tapes. Developers of online -based language programs realize the importance of interactive tools in order to inspire learning as opposed to using outdated and boring methods of instruction that will certainly cause people to lose interest early.
Some programs also come with downloadable courses that users can listen to or read even when they are offline. These courses are designed to maximize people’s free time since they can use the material/s even if they are off the grid and unable to connect to the internet.

Disadvantages

Lack of Feedback

There is no way to confirm one’s progress and level of fluency without the feedback of an instructor or someone who is adept at the language you are trying to learn. Since online language programs are basically self-taught, it can be difficult to gauge your fluency, let alone know what areas on which you need improvement.
The exception to this is one-on-one language tutorials, which involves lessons delivered by an actual person (instructor) through video chatting. In the case of full-fledged online courses, however, you have to rely on your instinct (as well as repetition) most of the time.

No Human Interaction

Many language experts believe that the best way to acquire a foreign language is by interacting with native speakers. However, since immersive learning is not ideal for most people, human interaction is one of the things that you will miss out on when choosing online-based language education.

What are the Choices in Language Learning Online?

There are several choices when it comes to online based language learning, not the least of which are the following:

Language Learning Software

This is an online based program that usually consists of several courses, both audio as well as text based. Some of the most popular language software today includes Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Rocket Languages, Living Language Platinum, and Tell Me More (business language). These programs offer several different lessons on various languages from all over the world such as English, French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, German, Tagalog, Japanese, Mandarin, Indian, Esperanto, Romanian, Swiss, Swedish, Polish, Arabic, and a few dozen more.
Some of the most prominent features of language software include audio lessons, eBooks, and language games. Some of these programs include resources that can be downloaded and accessed even when you are offline.

Online Tutorials

This method of language learning is as close as you can get to the traditional classroom setting since it involves receiving instructions from a mentor. While this is highly preferable for those who like having a teacher to guide them through the process, online tutorials can get expensive since most instructors charge by the hour.

Other Language Programs

Other online programs that tackle language learning do not necessarily teach a specific language. Benny the Irish Polyglot, for instance, is a self-confessed autodidact who devised a method of mastering several languages within a few months, and his program is called the Language Hacking Guide. The lessons provided are intended to guide people through the process of acquiring whatever language they want.
This type of language course has more to do with gaining confidence and intellectual maturity in order to learn faster and become fluent in a short amount of time.

Is Online Language Learning the Best Choice?

Living in the information age means having the luxury of learning various skills without being encumbered by distance or the lack of funds. Online language learning certainly provides a viable option for those who want to learn foreign languages at home, with the same results as one can expect from taking a course at a college or university.

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