Learning a Second Language Online
Learning a second language can be an exciting and wonderful way to expand your career skills, enhance travel opportunities, or just make use of some spare time. If you are thinking about continuing your education by picking up another language, you may be considering attending traditional types of language learning classes. However, there is now a new way to learn all the different aspects of a second language: online. Online language learning is becoming increasingly popular, particularly as people become more comfortable using the Internet. So if you are considering enhancing your language skills, think about learning a second language online.
Why Learn a Second Language?
There are many excellent reasons to begin learning and practicing a second language:
- Career Opportunities: As globalization becomes a mainstay of most business organizations, having a second language under your belt can really expand your career horizons.
- Travel Enhancement: Travelling makes up a large part of many people’s lives. Learning a second language can add another dimension to your travel experiences, allowing you to communicate with citizens of other countries.
- Family Communication: As more and more families relocate to different parts of the world, you may find it difficult to communicate with new relatives. Learning a second language can help to bring your family together.
- Personal Gratification: Learning a second language can be a challenge but it is also lots of fun. You get to meet and speak with lots of new people and dedicate some of your spare time to a useful cause.
What is Online Language Learning?
Online language learning makes use of the online learning process to teach students of all ages to communicate using a second language. Also known as computer assisted language learning, online language learning uses the Internet and various computer applications to present authentic language materials. It also provides students with the opportunity to speak in real time with other students and their instructor.
How Does Online Language Learning Work?
Online language learning operates in very similar ways to the programs offered by online universities and colleges. In order to begin the online learning process, you need to have a computer with a modem and an Internet connection. When you sign up for the online language course, you will be given an Internet address and password. This will allow you to access the site that provides your language learning materials. Once you have accessed this site, you will find all of the exercises, tests, and assignments that you need to complete to help learn your second language.
What Features Do Online Language Schools Provide?
Most online language schools provide a variety of resources for their students, including:
- authentic written materials (including stories, news reports, poems, and articles)
- authentic audio materials (including news broadcasts and radio programs, featuring native speakers)
- language exercises that focus on all aspects of language learning, including reading, writing, speaking, and pronunciation
- practice quizzes
- tests and exams
Most online language programs also offer students the chance to converse with one another using various Internet applications. Using email and chat rooms, students have the opportunity to speak with other students using their new language skills.
Advantages of Learning a Second Language Online
There are numerous advantages to learning a second language online:
- Flexibility: Online language learning offers students the chance to learn at their own pace and according to their own schedules.
- Learner-Centered: Online second language learning is often much more learner-centered than traditional language classes. You can choose what activities to complete and how you want to communicate with your fellow classes.
- Immediate Feedback: If you learn a second language online, you will often receive immediate feedback on your tests and exercises. This means you don’t have to wait for your instructor to grade your work.
- Language Independence: Learning a second language online forces students to wrestle directly with the elements of the language – there is no teacher to fall back on. This promotes language independence.
- Authentic Materials: Unlike many traditional classroom settings, online language learning almost guarantees that students will be provided with authentic materials. The Internet provides students with a variety of resources with which to find a number of different readings, texts, and language exercises.
Disadvantages of Learning a Second Language Online
Unfortunately, learning a second language online does have its drawbacks, including:
- Lack of Classroom Atmosphere: Because you are learning from work or at home, many students find that they miss out on the chance to be in a real language classroom.
- Lack of Face-to-Face Communication: Online language learning does not provide students with the chance to communicate orally, and face-to-face with other classmates.
- Lack of Motivation: Learning a second language can be very difficult and time consuming. Without an instructor or classmates to cheer you on, the learning process can become very demoralizing.
Who Offers Online Learning Opportunities?
If you are interested in learning a second language online, there are a number of different schools that offer these types of programs. Many well-respected universities and colleges now offer online language classes, and there are also a number of private companies who offer language training over the Internet.