Ideally, the best way to learn a foreign language is through immersion, for at least a year, in a foreign country where they speak the language. Unfortunately this is not a realistic option for most of us. Luckily, online language learning has come a long way in recent years. Online courses are helpful for beginners as the instructor has already chosen some of the best resources and combined them into specific learning paths. Plus, online resources are a fraction of the cost of immersion!
1) Self-Paced Language Courses
The most basic language courses are self-paced, which allows you to work wherever you want, whenever you want. These courses often provide interactivity with native-speaking voices, exercises with immediate feedback, and links to a large variety of web resources.
In addition to learning the basics through self-paced, general language courses, there are now more industry-specific courses called occupational language courses. Instead of learning the entire language, perhaps you need a starting point for a specific challenge. For example, a front desk person in the healthcare industry finds language challenges with Spanish-speaking patients. She isn’t interested in fluency-at least not yet-but wants to know a few Spanish phrases to gather information and comfort people coming to the clinic. Online resources and courses are now available to help her with this language need—specifically Pronto Spanish for the Medical Front Office. We also offer such practical specialized courses such as Pronto Spanish for Supervisors, Pronto Spanish for Police Officers, Pronto Spanish for Bank Tellers and many others.
2) Instructor-Led Courses
Many universities and community colleges offer their own online language courses. Instructor led courses generally have a set pace and more accountability with specific start and end dates, group discussions, and homework. These options are great for students who find more structure helps their learning. Many instructor-led online courses also now include occupational courses to help workers in a specific industry learn what they need for their job.
3) Supplementary Online Resources
What if you already have taken a language course, but you need practice? With the web, you now can find native Spanish speaking tutors, such as www.SpeakShop.com, to help you practice your language skills in the comfort of your own home. Need help with vocabulary and verb conjugations? Try the many language flashcard sets at www.quizlet.com or get instant grammar feedback at www.conjuguemos.com. You can also join language-learning communities online, such as LiveMocha or Duolingo.
Don’t forget one of the easiest and cheapest ways to “immerse” yourself: movies from the comfort of your own couch! Put in a DVD or Blu-ray and choose ‘Language’ or ‘Subtitles’ options for your selected language. Whatever you do, just enjoy the language learning experience and realize that language skills are keys to opening up many new doors.
Pronto Spanish Services, LLC was established in 2002 to assist adults in learning practical, conversational and occupational Spanish skills in order to communicate in the Spanish language in an enjoyable, relaxed, effective and efficient manner. Pronto Spanish is a leader in offering online, occupational Spanish courses for a variety of industries, as well as occupational and conversational Spanish workbooks, designed for an interactive, student-centered classroom learning experience.
This post is the second in our “Learn a New Skill in 2014” series.
Image: Nicolas Raymond via flickr