Learning a Foreign Language Online

Learning a Foreign Language Online

If you need to travel abroad for work, or you want to refresh what you learned long ago in high school Spanish class, or you’re simply looking for a new challenge, you might try learning a foreign language over the Internet. Online language learning is fast becoming a major trend; Oregon State University has announced it will begin offering bachelor’s degrees for distance-learning German majors. And many Internet foreign language programs are not only effective, but also fun. Some even incorporate videos, photos and songs.

One such program is called Livemocha. Livemocha offers formal lessons as well as the opportunity to type out passages in another language, or record your voice speaking those passages, and then submit your creations to the entire Livemocha community in order to find out how accurate you were. Another language program is Lang-8, which allows you to record journal entries in whichever language you’re learning. Other Lang-8 users can access your entries and correct them for you – it’s an entertaining way to hone your skills.

There are many iPhone apps providing language lessons, too. Some apps will speak foreign words, and then you can repeat those words and phrases as many times as you need to in order to get them right. Other apps, such as Byki, offer flashcards: you’ll see or hear a word in English and have to say that word in the language you’re studying in order to move on.

Of all online foreign language programs, the most famous is probably Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone software doesn’t come cheap, but it’s an excellent and thorough educational resource. It teaches languages in simple and straightforward ways, eschewing long lists of vocabulary and elaborate grammatical terminology. In April 2012, James Madison University entered a partnership with Rosetta Stone to offer its students foreign language courses over the Internet. James Madison is the first college to work with Rosetta Stone in this way, but expect more of these extensive partnerships soon. 

It’s important to practice speaking a new language as often as you can, and essential that you converse with others. Therefore, as an online language learner, try to find websites which will allow you to video chat with people fluent in the language you’re studying. Engaging in frequent conversations lets you work out all those little nuances and everyday colloquialisms which are so much a part of any tongue.

Online learning market place

Nov 30, 1999