Learning a new language can seem like a daunting task. Where do you start? Should you learn some common phrases and then progress from there? Should you learn verb tenses first? Will you soon regret not having learned a lot of vocabulary when starting out or should you have started with learning the correct grammar?
Language learning can be overwhelming for even the most motivated of students and that is why planning is one of the most important steps you need to take in your decision to learn a new language.
However, before you embark on the journey of learning a new language you should ask yourself a few questions:
- Is your goal to speak the language fluently?
- Do you just need some general phrases or do you need a strong reading knowledge of a particular language for school or work?
- How much money are you willing to set aside to learn a new language?
- When you are going to study and how often?
You need to be able to answer these questions before you think about learning a new language as it will put you in the best possible position to start you off on the right track.
Why the Internet Is the Best Choice
With the meteoric rise of the internet has come online programs which are dedicated to helping you learn a new language at any time, day or night, and at your own pace. There is no need to leave the house or get dressed; you can open up your laptop, and start learning in bed whilst dressed in your pyjamas if you really want to.
While it is true that some people might prefer traditional learning formats such as hiring a teacher, learning from text books or attending classes; the vast majority of people prefer to learn a language online. Arguments against learning in the traditional format is that hiring a teacher is expensive, learning from text books is not very effective and the last thing people want to do when they get home from a long day of work is to attend language learning classes.
The internet offers people the opportunity to learn in a more engaging, convenient and fun way than traditional methods.
The great thing about online learning language courses and their mobile apps is that you can practice and learn whenever you want. This even means getting your phone out and accessing an app or website when waiting in line at the bank or commuting on the subway.
Being able to practice a new language on your own schedule and driving forward at your own pace, makes it much more likely that you will stick to your goal of learning a new language as well as learning at a quicker pace.
Which Language Learning Software Should You Use?
There are a plethora of online language learning courses available on the internet, both free and paid.
As you would expect, the free courses suffer from a distinct lack of quality. However, some of the better ones are Busuu (www.busuu.com) offering interactive learning courses as well as a large community; Byki Express (www.byki.com) which is a downloadable, easy to install program with no time or session limits; and finally, Live Mocha (www.livemocha.com) which is one of the largest online learning communities offering free online language learning courses for people worldwide.
Typically, the two most popular paid websites to learn a language online are Rosetta Stone (www.rosettastone.com) (You may read good reviews on Rosetta Stone here) and Verbal Planet (www.verbalplanet.com).
However, the best program I have found is Rocket Languages (www.rocketlanguages.com). Rocket Languages has helped over 800,000 people learn new languages in a very interactive, friendly, intuitive and fun way. It is cheaper than many of the other language courses on the internet but the quality of learning is not sacrificed. If you need more info on Rocket Languages, this review here is a good write up on it. And there are more reviews on the specific language versions here.
It is a good choice for those who enjoy audio, story-based learning, as well as those who are brand-new to a language. I also found it ideal for travelers who want to learn the most useful phrases for traveling quickly.
Users can choose between online access—$99.95 Premium (level 1), $149.95 for Premium Plus (level 2), and $149 for Platinum (level 3)—or a 20-disc CD-ROM set ($299.99). The online packages come with a lifetime membership and free upgrades.
How to Learn a Language Online At an Even Quicker Pace?
With the internet, you have many tools at your fingertips which you should use in combination with your online program. Taking full advantage of social media sites like Facebook is always a good idea as you can make online friends with people who are native speakers of the language you are learning. This can help you improve your communication, pronunciation as well as the finer yet less formal aspects of the language. Social media sites can cut the time spent to learn a language online in half.
I'm sure that you have a collection of DVD's in your house or at least a few lying around. All of these DVD's provide you with the option of changing the language, but if for whatever reason this option doesn't exist, there will be at the very least an option to choose subtitles in a wide variety of languages. Watching a DVD in the language you want to learn as well as reading the subtitles is a very effective way to increase the rate of learning.
Reading newspapers on the internet can certainly allow a person to master a new language at a quicker pace. Check out the website; www.ipl.org for a list of international newspapers available online. This invaluable website contains links to hundreds of newspapers in dozens of languages.
A good way to use the website is to read a news story in a language of your choice, find a story about the same event in an American newspaper and then compare the two, using the English version as a guide to help you figure out the words or sections that were puzzling in the language you are trying to learn.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, states that it takes 10,000 hours to gain proficiency in any field or task. Learning a new language is no exception. If you invest 10,000 hours in learning and practicing a new language, you will eventually be able to be speak the language of your choice fluently. It might sound like a lot of hard work, and there is no denying that it really is in fact a lot of hard work. However, if you really do want to learn a new language and are prepared to put the time and effort in, you will reap the rewards in the long run.
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