Covid-19 changed the educational system all over the world. The spread of the pandemic and imposed lockdowns resulted in the immense rise of online learning and remote classes at all levels and subjects, including languages.
Using digital platforms for online language teaching was initially forced to impart education to students. But this trend has become popular and is here to stay widespread globally for many excellent reasons.
Technological progress and advancement have also led to the rise of across-the-board e-learning.
But how effective is online learning? How it differs from the traditional offline classroom? What are the pros and cons of both online and offline language studies?
This is one of the debated and discussed issues in the education and language niche. So today, let’s examine everything in this hotly contested subject!
Table of Contents
- The past, present, and future of language learning
- Difference between traditional and remote education
- Comparison between Offline Vs. Online language study
- Why choose online language courses?
- Why select traditional classroom language learning?
- Final Words on In-Person Vs. Online Language Learning
The past, present, and future of language learning
Language allows you to express yourself effectively orally and in writing.
You analyze information, think critically, and comprehend how it works in various scenarios. It also develops cultural awareness, a critical skill for any professional communicator.
Traditionally, language learning is an interdisciplinary study combining courses from two closely related but distinct disciplines: languages and linguistics.
Students choose to study a new tongue and explore how languages and human communication function. The complexity and evolution also attract many learners to pursue a language course.
Many learn to advance their careers involving languages. It helps them work as language specialists in various sectors, like journalism, education, tourism, IT, advertising, publishing, client support, BPO, and many more.
You can also work to improve text-to-speech recognition and natural language processing. Or as a teacher, public relations expert, writer, editor, in an embassy, career as translator or interpreter, etc.
With so many variations of jobs, courses, and purposes, curricula and processes of instructing foreign language studies vary widely.
Because of its diverse nature, it relies on the institutions offering the course. It also differs in duration, aim, fee, and type of study.
Difference between traditional and remote education
One of the top differences between offline and online language learning is flexibility and comfort.
Conventional studies usually require attending in-person classes at a specific location, time, period, and day. Thus, spend time and money to take part in classroom activities.
In contrast, e-learning language learning can be done anywhere and at any time. All you need is a laptop, desktop, or smartphone and an internet connection, which most people have these days.
That is why online language learning is beneficial since it is a more convenient option for many people.
Another principal difference between classroom in-person and remote study is the availability of resources. Offline language learning is limited to hard copies of study materials provided by the instructor or academy.
Online education offers a wide range of resources. For instance, learners can access the audio, videos, podcasts, and interactive exercises at their own speed and from anywhere.
Besides, many apps benefit language learning. You can choose a few according to your objective and types of study. For example, if you aim to learn Japanese characters, you have many apps for the same intent.
Of course, there are many flaws and problems with language learning apps. For example, an app alone is not enough to learn a language. It can best supplement other resources like studying with a teacher, books, audio lessons, etc.
Online language learning often allows for more personalized and tailored learning experiences.
Many online courses use algorithms and other technologies to evaluate learners’ skills and adapt the content to their needs. This can be pretty valuable for students with specific goals or learning styles.
Due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, online classes have less self–discipline and are often more time-consuming. As a result, motivation is also low, with lots of distractions.
Offline regular sessions are interactive and offer lively exchanges with classmates and lecturers. Whereas online classes often lead to boredom. This is a drawback of online language learning.
Comparison between Offline Vs. Online language study
If I compare the two forms, each has its own usefulness and something both lack and shortcomings.
Physical classes can be restrictive regarding the material and procedure. Whereas online allows freedom and does not limit you to a specific form. But it often needs human interaction.
You may not practice what you learn in a regular class. This is because a classroom teacher cannot adjust to each student.
For example, suppose you want to learn conversational Spanish. Then you may need assistance from other sources, more practice, and tools.
In online classes, students benefit from repetition to correctly grasp the language. But a traditional classroom may only allow you to repeat courses on the spot without disturbing the teacher or the session.
Online courses keep pupils engaged throughout the learning process, including using good apps for language learners. It also allows students to learn at their own speed in a comfortable and safe setting while still receiving a sound and complete education.
You can be the sole student in a session online and get the entire focus of your tutor. You can ask questions or clarify what you need to understand. This may be tough offline and, even when possible, reasonably pricey.
Online platforms also help you find trainers of less spoken languages or native speakers. If you want customized lessons, you’ll get the best deal possible. But that may not be available offline.
Offline aim at language proficiency and is available for popular languages. They focus more on accuracy and formal levels of speaking. While casual lessons exist, it is less common.
Online classes, besides formal learning, are also available for fun or as a hobby, which is for enjoyment rather than serious studying. You can also learn those languages that are not available at any nearby centers.
If you immerse yourself in a place through travel, you will learn to put down your dictionaries. And instead, speak with people using simple terms to express a hard word you haven’t yet discovered.
A significant flaw of online learning is its convenience and continual availability. For example, one may open a digital dictionary to verify a word to speak in a phrase without actively integrating it into a memory.
While internet tools help revisit a language, they should be used as something other than the primary method of language acquisition.
While these skills are worthwhile, they can act as roadblocks to learning a target language or thinking like a native. That is why immersion and continuous dialogue are the most effective language-learning technique.
If you aren’t already an intermediate or advanced speaker, learning a language in a foreign country might be very difficult.
This applies if you live where local dialects or other languages are also spoken along with the target one. For example, Barcelona, Spain. Here most residents speak Catalan rather than textbook Spanish.
If you don’t have a firm base in the target language, navigating an accent, new terms, or even other languages might be difficult. E.g., French in Paris when learning German.
Thus, learning the fundamentals online can help lay the groundwork for future study, volunteering, employment, or living abroad chances.
All you need to do is enroll in an online language learning course. Of course, you have to pay for the tuition. There are no travel costs, and online study materials are free or included in the course package.
In a regular classroom, there are many resources to help with teaching and studying. Yet, attending online classes forces you to rely on the tutor and your voice.
Consider being in a class where most dialogue is “what?” and “huh?” That is because the other person doesn’t comprehend you.
It comes down to the instructor to ensure that their pronunciation and tone help you and the other students comprehend what they’re saying. This ensures that you understand them in the way they intended initially.
Yet, traditional classrooms are time-tested, and their benefits are well-established. You gain more confidence, boost your ability to learn from other’s mistakes, and enhance your overall skills.
The physical presence of fellow learners creates a healthy environment and makes your cognitive senses sharper. It makes the learning process highly efficient. Also, it is highly natural and comfortable, allowing you to open up and communicate more freely.
Why choose online language courses?
Technology has made life easier and more convenient. Globally, the internet has also broken down geographical barriers and created many opportunities.
Online language study has transformed in the last decade when different kinds of online language e-learning courses have become available.
You can get quality study content at the push of a button from beginners to advanced levels. Online language classes are among the subjects students are enrolling in. Thus, popularity and attendance are increasing.
Online courses, unlike conventional classes, are tailored to your specific timetable.
This means you may learn at your own pace. And that without worrying about missing a deadline. Depending on your availability, you can start a class on the weekends or after work hours.
Traveling to actual centers is no longer necessary because of the internet. Instead, you can learn anything you want from your home or anywhere else you like.
You won’t require any language school in your neighborhood. Instead, you can access high-quality instructional materials in one suitable location.
This strategy is cost-effective and time-saving because you save money on transport or driving great distances to the study facility. You can also start any foreign language program from anywhere and at any time.
It’s no secret that language learning is complex. But thanks to modern technology, now you can access various tools and interactive classes.
You may improve your knowledge by taking regular language exams, audio snippets, and reading content.
For instance, you can access podcasts to improve your language skills. Or learn a language with movies and TV series. Further, you could also re-watch them at different speeds and intervals to match your pace.
Studying online lets you know more about a nation, practice essential phrases, and its history. This ensures that you make the most of your time there if you are fortunate enough to visit.
You will have a whole and immersive experience in your target language instead of being confused by cultural customs or misunderstanding the locals.
There are plenty of incentives and drawbacks associated with online language learning. So let’s take a closer look.
Pros and Cons of Online Language Learning
- Accessible from the comfort of your home through your computer, laptop, mobile, and stable internet.
- Convenient to fit into your schedule as there is no fixed schedule, and you won’t have to travel time. This saves time.
- Access to endless sources and resources through the internet.
- Online classes are more affordable, and there is no travel cost.
- An opportunity to learn any language of your choice, including some rare and less-common tongues. This may not be possible at the offline learning center.
- Computerized interactions without human touch. Talking via a screen doesn’t feel personal and thus reduces human talk and the feeling of physical presence.
- Lower efficiency in learning pronunciation, as a lot could be lost in the audio transmission in online classes.
- No cultural understanding and characteristics, as you cannot interact with the natives, locals, or at least those already familiar with them.
- Lack of structure and discipline, thus making the process inefficient.
- Technical difficulties constantly plague online classes. E.g., slow or no internet, power cuts, and electrical equipment like PC, laptops, webcams, microphones, and headphones not working. These factors can prevent seamless learning and attendance at live lectures or downloading videos and notes online.
Why is online better than offline?
Offline classes are held at the same place, and students must find their way. Online is helpful if you are a busy professional or cannot travel due to time constraints. You also save time and focus more on your studies.
Unlike offline sessions, where there is little room for flexibility, online offers more freedom in timing. You not only decide when but can take lessons beyond regular hours, which may be more suitable for you.
Do you have reasons to learn Thai, Romanian, Vietnamese, or Bahasa?
That is another perk of online language courses. You can learn any tongue you fancy. Also, unlike offline, where options are limited to famous ones, you can study any less widespread or uncommon in the online platform.
In most cases, the tuition fees in a classroom in person are higher. And that is not the only expense. Also, your costs go up on travel and hard copies of study materials.
Offline mode doesn’t have innovative technology. For example, you cannot access various video channels, interactive lessons, digital lessons, and podcasts. And the list is endless.
Students understand using technology, enhance their language skills with modern tools, software, and apps and connect with other students.
Why select traditional classroom language learning?
Offline learning has been the norm for a long time now. It is the most common method of language education.
Offline education occurs in the classroom, where students may directly engage with teachers, resulting in a prime focus and interest.
Teachers can address students’ questions regarding the subject quickly and effectively. Students who attend class bond with their classmates and professors. This makes it easier for them to engage in public.
The conventional classes at the physical location encourage students to work on group projects and gain new skills.
Students who study online become more introverted since they only talk with other students online rather than face-to-face.
It gives a classroom feel, which would induce a disciplined learning approach. It also helps you understand the pronunciation and more clear interaction with your educator.
You can also travel to the country of the language you want to learn and get a completely immersive experience. Practicing daily in a real-life setting is one of the best methods to learn a language fast.
It is also because you get a lot of speaking and natural listening practice with the help of native speakers.
Pros and Cons of Offline language learning
- Access to traditional methods of learning that imitate school learning, thus making it a structured environment.
- Human touch and interaction increase communication skills. This is because the physical presence of the tutor and other students helps increase cognition.
- Instant correction and clarification of errors as a tutor are available to speak and give instant feedback.
- Instant correction and clarification of errors as a tutor are available to speak and give instant feedback.
- It is rare for offline classes to be affected by technical issues.
- Lack of digital exposure, easier, convenient, and class flexibility.
- Costly and time-consuming to attend lectures or classes as you would have to schedule them and travel to the physical center.
- It can get tiresome and boring as it is an old method and simulates a classroom.
- Some may fear making mistakes in the classroom and not speaking up. It makes it inefficient, especially for shy learners.
- It is challenging for everyone to get a quality level of language learning. And it is possible to not cater to the specific needs of each student.
Why is offline better than online?
Physical classes simulate a perfect learning environment. Talking through a screen in online mode feels different from being there in person to learn.
The conventional classroom format allows the hands-on practice, role-play, and the teacher’s ability to correct students’ notebooks. These things are not viable in an online setup.
For a learner, like novices, who need the individual face-to-face undivided attention of a trainer and greater involvement in the class, offline is the right choice. This also raises your confidence due to active class activity.
The classroom lecture permits one to comprehend a subject better. Thus, students can better understand all the topics and have more clarity about their doubts.
Offline classroom sessions have fewer distractions. Your primary focus is on learning, just like your teacher on teaching. The emphasis of the lesson is entirely on the subject.
Final Words on In-Person Vs. Online Language Learning
Online and offline language studies have their own advantages and disadvantages. Yet, both options are efficient and beneficial in their own way. Consider some factors mentioned above when deciding between two modes of study.
It ultimately comes down to individual preference and what works best for you. The decision to pursue one or the other will depend on an individual’s learning style, speed, comfort, goals, and feasibility.
That said, no matter your chosen method, the language may master your triumph. You can make you add another language feather to your cap.
I hope this blog article addressed one of the most contentious topics of our time. Whatever you like, learning a new language opens a world of possibilities in your personal and professional life.
What do you think of online language learning or offline method? Which one do you prefer, and why? Do you have any opinions to share? You can write in the comments below!