This guest post by Beth Nicholas, a professional writer for Lingos.
Language learning has been revolutionised by the creation of the Internet. My first introduction to language learning was a record on a record player – my children probably have no idea what a record player is! At the time, that record was my only access to learning a foreign language. I then progressed to a phrasebook and finally classroom lessons.
Today, at the click of a button, we are connected with people all around the world. We can share information and knowledge with millions of people. We can hear foreign languages spoken every day without having to travel. Language lessons can be held online. We can access more content in any language in one Google search than we can possibly read or listen to in a lifetime. The Internet has thoroughly changed the way we learn and access information.
Let’s not forget that undertaking a project to learn languages online doesn’t mean just sitting at your computer…you could be on the move with your mobile or tablet and still learning languages – fantastic! The Internet has changed our behaviour and this is an ongoing evolution with new apps and processes being created every day!
Best Tips to Learn Languages Online
1. Try using Skype or Google hangouts:
You can talk to anyone in the world using either of these free online services. Use it to link up with other people learning the same language, or with a language exchange friend or your language teacher.
2. Listen to the Radio in a Different Language:
You can now access pretty much any radio station in the world via the Internet meaning something as common as the radio can help you learn a new language. Use a specific website or app to flip between one station or another, just search the app store on your mobile or tablet.
3. Read Foreign Language Newspapers from your Mobile, Tablet or PC:
Many of the big national newspapers now have a mobile app which you can download at the click of a button. Figuring out the headlines in a foreign language everyday can only improve your language skills – how would you have done this before the internet?! Think BBC, Le Monde, The Moscow Times, La Stampa, El Pais, Bild.
4. Take Part in Online Language Classes:
There are many free and paid online language learning exchange and tutoring classes available on the Internet. Busuu, Livemocha, iTalki, Verbling all offer classes you can join-in with online.
5. Use Online Flashcards:
Online Flashcards are a perfect tool for learning languages. They allow you to quickly cover a lot of vocabulary while also allowing you to brush up on your knowledge periodically.
6. Find a Language Pen Pal:
Instead of finding a pen pal via word of mouth, you can use an online service like Interpals to find a suitable pen pal then use the Internet to message each other or arrange to speak over Skype or Google Hangouts. You can both mutually benefit from sending emails, share links to interesting information. Many polyglots like Tim Doner use international pen pals to keep practicing the languages they have learned.
7. Find Free or Paid Introductory Online Lessons to Suit You:
There are so many! They all have different techniques and styles to teach you. Some might focus on memory, such as Memrise. Some can work out what language level you are already at like Duolingo. They can be an ongoing set of courses or just a five-minute burst of practicing some vocabulary. Every little helps – it’s all down to practice!
8. Use YouTube:
Listen to songs, watch silly videos and ads in a different languages – you will be surprised how much you will understand! Try singing along for fun (!) and to practice your speaking skills…
9. Internet Translation:
There are many free online translation services which can help you. If you’re ever stuck translating a word, try Google Translate, but use cautiously. Most language buffs would recommend these services for translating one or two words at a time – they are simply not sophisticated enough to translate huge swathes of text. Plus the point is for you to use the language – not for Google to do it for you!
10. Mobile Dictionary Apps:
There are also some great online dictionary services and mobile apps for both students and teachers out there – one which gets a thumbs up is Dict.cc – download this and you can check words you don’t understand.
Try not to get too waylaid searching for different ways to help you learn languages online. Most importantly, you need to stick to doing the actual learning – we all know how distracting the Internet can be! With 4.5 billion web pages worldwide it’s easy to get sidetracked.
About the Author: Beth Nicholas is a professional writer for Lingos – the online language learning community dedicated to pairing language teachers and learners plus providing a digital forum for learners to interact with like-minded students.