Are You Globalizing Your Skill Set?
Language is the foundation of humanity. Our ability to communicate gives us both empathy and a sense of self. With increasing globalization comes the need for greater access to language. Regardless of the language you're learning—whether it's English, Mandarin, Spanish, or Gaelic—those who pursue language training broaden their horizons, from career to education to travel and beyond. Luckily, recent advancements in tech have allowed learning opportunities to catch up with the growing demand.
Linguistic education has historically been a face-to-face endeavor, with careful practice physically overseen by an instructor. But as education moves online, learning a language is now more convenient and affordable than ever. Services such as Duolingo and Rosetta Stone offer on-the-go digital language learning, providing instantaneous language education that functions somewhat like a game.
However, these systems are not the only alternative methods for learning a language quickly. Others combine the practicality of online learning with the dynamic interactions of in-person education.
Online Learning Makes Languages Accessible
In the modern world, in which the Internet has allowed increased collaboration between diverse people, the importance of speaking and writing well in multiple languages has become an educational need. Traditional-format language classes remain a staple in secondary and higher education models.
However, alternatives such as online tutoring are gaining ground with language learners. For example, the methods used by online tutoring service Preply.com harness the principle of exposure-based learning in a convenient and affordable format, representing a departure from the conventional learning model. Students have one-on-one access to tutelage from high-level native speakers and the option to meet via video chat or in person.
Individualized Input for Fluent Output
Studies show that rote memorization and hard study of grammar do not help students truly master languages.
In fact, your best learning comes from something called comprehensible input. Comprehensible input occurs when the student receives information just barely beyond their level of proficiency, and the system works best when the teacher quickly adapts to the student's needs.
Most traditional language classrooms require students to turn in work and answer questions in front of the class almost immediately—they require regular and frequent student output. The problem with this approach lies in the variability in teacher input. With small classrooms or private tutoring, a student can spend time listening and absorbing as the teacher delivers information matched to the student's needs and then deliver output after proper preparation. Because the input–output ratio is individually aligned, the student can progress at a much faster pace in the pursuit of language fluency.
Textbooks Versus Natural Conversation
Textbooks offer another option for language learning and are often paired with in-class instruction. While textbooks can be a helpful tool, learning language from a textbook can never substitute for actual interactions with others in the target language. Personal interactions allow students to learn idioms, gestures, and unique regional phrases in addition to basic grammar. This means the aspiring bilingual gets an education in natural flow—something textbooks have trouble delivering.
But if textbooks are limited in value and classrooms don't offer individualized learning, does that mean learning a language in a classroom is ineffective? Not always. A great classroom teacher can adapt a curriculum to fit the students' needs and keep lessons engaging. But balancing the needs of a dozen students means that classroom lesson progression is dictated by the student average rather than the real-time personalized needs of each student.
You know learning a language is important, whether you're looking for a step up in your career, expanding your education, or traveling to a foreign country. Speaking, reading, and writing a language doesn't happen overnight—it takes motivation, careful study, and the right learning environment. What will your approach be?
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Stan Daniels is an SEO generalist at Preply.com. Stan's expertise covers SEO, SEM, and competitor analysis. He has worked on more than 60 international projects in multiple niches including ecommerce stores, gambling projects, software companies, massive ads, and Q/A portals. He is an experienced speaker and has been an author and tutor since 2013.