Learning a new language can be an exciting and rewarding. But often new learners can find the rules, structures, and nuances of a foreign language daunting. This is especially true in the current COVID-19 pandemic where lessons may be restricted to an online mode. Where do you start? Can you learn a new language effectively online?
Luckily, the Agape School of Education (ASOE) has prepared a handy guide for learning a foreign language online. As leaders in the language acquisition industry and over two decades of experience in guiding our students to success, we have summarized our top strategies to learning a new language. It’s easy to download a couple of apps or watch some videos on YouTube, but this rarely translates into a usable fluency. You might be able to understand some basics or at least ask for direction to the nearest toilet, but that’s not a well-developed skill.
There are many reasons learning a new language as a skill is very useful; from improving job prospects or upskilling to future travels needs (when these restrictions end). That’s why it is important to set goals to help structure your learning process.
A structured approach to language learning
As per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, language competence is commonly separated into four core skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each stage of proficiency entails a different level of competency in these four skills.
It is important to focus on all four competencies, even at the earliest stages, to give yourself a solid foundation. And in recent years, there’s been a shift away from the boring teaching of grammar rules and syntax to a more holistic approach.
Reading and writing might seem easier in the earliest stages of language learning, where the luxury of time allows you to slowly build up your vocabulary.
On the other hand, speaking and listening can take more time to master as they require some underlying knowledge. Exposure how a language sounds as you learn how read and write can be very helpful for beginners. Luckily, most textbooks come with audio files these days, which can be used in conjunction with the exercises. However, the only drawback here is that you will have to follow a set course.
At the ASOE, we help you structure your learning to suit your needs and interests! Our custom-made materials use a variety of modes, including videos, images, and spaced repetition. This means, our students are not just trained in all the four core skills, but lessons are structured to ensure maximum retention of information.
Intermediate learners can explore the language as an interconnected element of culture, rather than simply as a system of communication. When you have attained this level of competence, there are many more learning opportunities open to you. At this stage, reading and writing becomes much easier and the main focus is on building out your vocabulary.
Speaking and listening can still be a bit of a task, but intermediate learners should start practicing their interactions with others. At the ASOE, our teachers are all native speakers, so our students pick up native pronunciations and nuances from the start!
The best part of these strategies is the easy translatability to online modes. Learners can easily find and access these skill building strategies and resources online, via video chat and through webinars.
Listen to learn
Listening enables you to gauge the nuances and pronunciation of the language you are learning. You can argue that using online portals to listen to different resources are more useful to learners. Online, you can connect with a host of different native speakers, listen to different YouTube example videos or even watching different tv programs in the language of your choice!
Watching YouTube videos and films with closed captions in the language is a fun way to improve your comprehension and pronunciation, while uncovering the cultural nuances of the language.
Expose yourself (to the language)
Learning a language is all about exposure. With online learning, the benefit is that students don’t need to wait till their weekly class to get in touch with the language. Online platforms can facilitate engagement with tutors, independent learning, and flexibility. However, learning a language is also a marathon. So, it’s essential to find a community or network to help support you, even electronically, in your learning journey. We recommend finding something related to a specific interest with which you can connect to and express your ideas and practice your skills. That way you’re not only constantly in touch with the language, but you’re reiterating lessons and information that you might actually use one day.
Every language is useful if it means accessing a community important to you, and it should be fun too.
How you can successfully master a language using online tools
While technology may have created opportunities for more people to access language education, the question remains – is it possible to learn a language using online tools?
Technology is only half the battle. It will not remove the need to be motivated to learn. Online tools are going to be most effective when used as part of a bigger collection of learning aids. One of the best motivational aids a student can have, is a teacher who understands a students’ unique needs and can develop a personalised learning plan. All students want to learn, but the ‘best way to learn’ something is influenced by differences our brains. Sometimes, we all need someone to push us when things get tough, and that’s where the utility of a teacher comes in handy.
The strategies we have implemented at the ASOE have helped our students increase their focus, improve their grades, and create a love for their languages. By giving them the time, support, and tools, they need to focus, we can help them become better learners and develop the confidence and perseverance they need to succeed. Luckily, these are also available online to students of the ASOE.
At the end of the day, it is easier than ever to learn a language online – and it comes with a host of benefits! It looks good on your resume and can help you get jobs; locals in foreign countries often appreciate the effort put into learning their tongue; it’s believed to grow your brain and may protect against Alzheimer’s (maintaining neuroplasticity is one of the great outcomes of learning new languages).
At the ASOE, we are committed to providing quality education. That’s why diligently collect feedback from you and act on it. If you know how we can improve our courses, we will seek to learn from you. Our small class sizes facilitate communication and allows us to translate our courses online easily. Since our classes are limited to 8 students, our teachers can work effectively online and our methods, which include role play and situational-based learning can be conducted with the help of audio/video conferencing.
- HSK & BCT
- TOPIK, and
Contact us today to find out how you can accelerate your language learning journey online!