12 Awesome Reasons to Learn a Second Language
How many languages do you speak? One? Four perhaps?
With the rise of the internet and the proliferation of personal laptops and WiFi-enabled mobile devices, online learning has also grown in popularity. It is an easy and convenient way to learn a new skill.
One type of online course that is extremely popular is the online language learning course. If you ask a group of people what new skill they would like to acquire, if possible, many will say a new language. If you ask what’s stopping them, however, just as many might say that they think they don’t have the time to enroll in a language learning course.
Lucky for the bilingual speakers of the future, online language learning is something that is now easily available to them.
Online language learning is considered an effective and efficient way for people to pick up a second or even a third language. There are a variety of online language learning tools that can help both beginner and more advanced learners develop their fluency. Here are three of the best types of online language learning tools available today.
If you are a beginner language learner, one of the best ways to learn is to enroll in an online learning program. Online learning programs provide you with a structured learning program, much like if you had enrolled in an in-person class. The advantage to this is, most of these programs follow a step-by-step lesson plan that teaches you what you need to know gradually and naturally.
If, for example, you decide to watch a language learning YouTube video at random, you might find yourself confused because the trainer will be talking about concepts that assume you have already learned when you might not have learned them yet. You avoid this when taking an online learning program because each lesson is designed to flow into the other. As long as you follow the order of the program, your language skills will be built up gradually but efficiently.
Here are a few online language programs that you should consider enrolling in. Take note that most of these programs charge a fee. There might be a few free lessons, but if you want to advance, you’re going to have to eventually subscribe.
Languages taught: Albanian, Arabic (Eastern, Egyptian, Modern Standard), Armenian (Eastern and Western), Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Persian (Dari and Farsi), Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Ojibwe, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Latin American and Spain-Castilian, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss-German, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese
This site offers conversational and reading language lessons in over 50 languages. They promise to have you speaking a new language within 30 days.
They offer one week of free lessons, after which you’re going to need to pay $14.95 a month to continue. You can take your lessons on your computer or else through a mobile device. All the lessons are audio only but transcripts are provided. Each lesson is about 30 minutes long.
Languages taught: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Dutch, English (American and British), Filipino (Tagalog), French, Greek, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian (Parsi), Polish. Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Swedish, Turkish
This is a “classic” online language learning program, becoming available in 1992. They offer lessons to help you learn how to speak, read, and write in more than 30 languages.
Rosetta Stone is known for its patented speech recognition engine, TruAccent. With TruAccent, you get real-time feedback on your conversational practice sessions. This enables you to perfect your accent and improve your speaking ability.
When you first sign up, you will get three days’ worth of free lessons, afterwards, you are going to need to subscribe and pay. The basic subscription plan is about $11.99 a month for three months. If you really want to become a polyglot, however, you might want to check out their 12 Months plan with allows you access to unlimited languages at $9.99 a month or a Lifetime subscription which allows you unlimited lessons in all of the languages they offer for $179.
Mobile apps are some of the most popular online learning tools out there because they allow you to learn anytime and anywhere. ‘
Most language learning apps offer a similar experience to online learning programs, in the sense that there is a set lesson plan or at least an “order” in which you are expected to take the lessons. They also often offer additional “extra” learning tools, like an online dictionary or vocabulary games that you can play with other people who use the app.
You may be able to find language learning apps that you can download for free, but you’re going to have to make in-app purchases to get the full benefit of the lessons. Here are a couple of examples of language apps that you might want to check out.
Languages taught: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, French, German, Greek, Guarani, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, High Valyrian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Norwegian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Welsh
This is a very popular language learning app that offers to teach people how to speak languages in a way that is fun and convenient. Currently, there are about 35 language courses available on Duolingo, with more in development.
The “selling point” of Duolingo and other language learning apps is that it can make your downtime, your breaks, and even your commutes more productive. They offer “bite-sized” lessons that focus on real-life goals. This means that they are designed to teach you how to communicate in specific situations, such as when ordering food at a restaurant.
They also keep their users motivated by making the lessons learning process feel like a game. Learning certain lessons can earn you virtual rewards which help you track your progress and encourage you to go on.
One other reason that Duolingo is so popular as an online language learning tool is the fact that it is free. However, they also offer Duolingo Plus a subscription plan at $6.99 a month which gives you ad-free access to the lessons. Duolingo Plus also allows you to access the lessons offline.
Languages taught: Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
Babbel, which was founded in 2007, is the first language learning app in the world. It offers language learning courses in over 14 languages. They offer audio dialogues and examples that are recorded with the help of native speakers to expose you to how the language is “really” spoken and improve your own conversational abilities.
Downloading the Babble+ app is free and the first lessons in each course are also free to try. Depending on the language that you are trying to learn, you might get 30 to 80 lessons free. If you want to continue after that, you are going to need to subscribe. They have 1-month ($12.95), 3 months ($8.95 a month), 6 months ($7.45 a month), and 12 months ($6.95 a month) plans.
If the biggest advantage of online language programs is the structured lesson plans and the biggest advantage of language learning apps is the flexibility of the learning schedule, online language tutoring’s biggest advantage is that it combines the best of both these worlds.
When you work with an online language tutor, your tutor follows a specific lesson plan that is designed to help you pick up essential language skills quickly. They may modify the lesson plan according to your needs and specifications, but bottom line is, your lessons are structured in a way that will help you build up your knowledge and not leave you confused and floundering.
An online tutor isn’t as flexible as an app, in the sense that you can’t just decide you have some time to kill and expect to have a lesson then and there. You need to set a time to meet with your tutor. However, it is still very flexible because you can decide on the lesson times yourself.
A classroom-based language learning course requires you to be present at a specific place and a specific time over a specified period, they decide for you and you have to adjust the rest of your schedule to make those classes. With a tutor, you tell them when you will be free to have a lesson, so you can easily fit your language learning into your existing schedule.
The biggest advantage to an online language tutor, however, is the fact that it allows you to have conversations with a native speaker. Hearing a language spoken and speaking it back to someone, having a conversation, is still considered the most effective way to gain fluency. Conversational practice is an integral part of online language tutoring courses. Your tutor will also be able to provide real-time feedback and tips to ensure that you will be able to communicate well in your chosen second or third language.
If you are looking for something to do in your spare time that can also improve your mind and your career prospects, you should definitely try and find a good online tutor. Here are a couple of websites that can help.
Italki is an online language learning website that helps learners connect with either a tutor or a language exchange partner. They claim that they can help people learn or practice in over 130 languages.
Italki basically connects you with a number of qualified tutors. You can browse the site for a tutor who looks like they will suit your needs and “book” a session with them by choosing a lesson type, a suitable time, and a mode of communication. The tutor’s rate per lesson is also displayed, with the minimum rate being $4.00.
They also have an app that allows you to video chat or even call your tutor, so you are not necessarily constrained to sitting in front of a computer.
JustLearn is an online tutoring platform that aims to connect language students with native speaking language tutors. They provide online tutoring in more than 50 languages.
Getting exposed to a language as it is spoken by native speakers is an effective way to not just gain fluency in a language but learn more about the cultural norms and traditions of the speakers. This ensures that you don’t just avoid making grammar or pronunciation mistakes but also avoid a cultural faux pas.
Language learners can go to the JustLearn website and book a tutoring session with a native language speaking tutor. They will then connect with this tutor via a scheduled video call to begin the lessons. They provide a customized learning environment that suits not just the learner’s schedule but also their skill level and takes into consideration their interests and their language learning goals.
When you first sign up at JustLearn, you can get a 7-day free trial. Afterward, you will need to book your lessons with your chosen tutor. The tutor’s rates are shown on their profiles.
While there are other online language learning tools, such as YouTube or Podcasts, or Translation apps, the three methods we talked about above are the most intensive and the most structured of the common online language learning tools.
We recommend that you choose at least one to be your main language learning tool then use a few other ways to learn languages online that are either more convenient for you or suit your learning style.
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