The best way to learn a language is often to do so online at a web site as opposed to a traditional classroom.
I’m regularly approached by people who want to learn a second language and asked for advice. It’s funny, but people who don’t speak a second language often regard translation professionals and other multi-lingual people as magical beings who have some sort of amazing skill that is almost otherworldly. I always assume it’s similar to my befuddlement with cars and engines: It’s all Greek to me, but some people can look at an engine and diagnose what the problem is right away – and it seems like magic. It’s just a difference of skills.
I have a lot of advice for people who want to learn second languages, but I usually start off with an unusual one: If you’re going to study a second language, do it online.
The Advantages of the Internet
There are plenty of people who will tell you otherwise – that the best approach is a classroom and perhaps an immersive experience. Immersion is an incredible tool for learning a language – that’s true. But for most people true immersion isn’t practical, and if you can’t do it all the way it’s almost not worth it.
Learning a language online has several distinct advantages to the classroom:
- Go at Your Own Pace. With an online course, you can work at it at your own pace without pressure or demands on your schedule that you can’t meet. Better, in my experience to learn more slowly than to be rushed and under pressure.
- Use Every Resource. Learning online means you can use various resources simultaneously with your reading and lessons. Being able to look things up, watch videos, and listen to various versions of accents at the same time as you study or hear a lecture is incredibly useful.
- Cheaper. Learning online can be totally free, and sometimes that’s all that’s needed to get someone to start learning.
- Choices. If you don’t like the first class you sign up for, you can fish for another and keep looking until you find something that works for you.
How to Learn
It is important, though, for people to understand that learning on the Internet is a different experience from a traditional classroom. If you have never tried to learn online before, it’s wise to keep some of these differences in mind:
- Self Starting is a Must. No one is going to make sure you’re doing the work online. It’s all up to you, and if you don’t do your homework no one will care.
- There are No Tests. Usually, online learning means there are no grades or tests – it’s on you to determine whether or not you’re learning effectively.
- You’re Alone. There are usually online forums or other ways to find other people learning alongside you, but in general there’s no social aspect to online learning. Some people find this to be the hardest part.
Overall, though, online learning is a great way to learn a language.
Image courtesy simplydigi.com