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How Effective is Distance Learning in Foreign Languages?

Distance learning itself can be effective depending on how much of your time is invested in these courses. Having access to a computer and internet is beneficial for those who are unable to attend classes at a school and those who wish to learn at their own pace. When it comes to learning a foreign language(s), a person can encounter many challenges, however, you can definitely master a language if the proper online tool(s) is used. It can take up to a few months or even years for a person to fully skill the language they wish to learn.

In the United States, it is proven that there are more people each day taking language courses online. With the advance growth in technology for educational use, the way in which people learn has definitely changed. Distance learning online courses removes a barrier among foreign language learners and the teachers giving those a chance to be able to study wherever and whenever they wish to. It gives everyone who wishes to learn a new language equal access to educational opportunities.

Luis von Ahn, the founder of DuoLingo, launched a free online app in 2012. It has been estimated that over 30 million people downloaded this Apple app in the year 2013.  Luis wanted to find a way for people to learn different languages for free since there are indeed some who are unable to afford online courses.  There are also other mobile apps and interactive software provided to those who are unable to access foreign language education.

Some believe you cannot master a language using an online app or software. A proper tutor support between the student and teacher can take place through an online face-to-face setting (two-way video), phone-in programs, telephone or even writing as well. If you are trying to obtain a Certificate for a certain language, you will need to pass some specific online courses.

Keys to Successful Distance learning in Foreign Languages programs:

 –  The presence of a teacher remotely on the sites offering foreign language courses.

– A live interaction between the teacher and student during the entire course.

– Regular use of computers (spending a certain amount of time per day learning), speech recognition devices, audiotapes, etc.

– Access to emails and or toll-free number (International use)

So, is distance learning in foreign language really the next big thing?

According to the United States Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (1989), in most cases, distance learning does indeed appear to be effective on-site, however, there are special instructional challenges. For K-12 education, this can be quite difficult and incomplete as classroom learning may be needed for younger students.

However, with English still being the most in-demand language worldwide, people will continue learning and developing new ways to make distance learning effective.

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