So you want to learn a new language, but you don’t have the time or money to attend expensive in-person language courses. What do you do? The next logical step is to look for language learning software. Through language software, you can easily learn a new language at your own pace and time. No need to adjust your life based on rigid language course schedules and lugging around heavy books. It’s time to take control of how and when you learn a new language.
Here’s what language learning software can do for you:
First of all, language software can help you learn at your convenience. No need to worry about signing up for classes that suit your busy schedule. You can learn whenever and wherever you like – whether it’s 30 minutes before you go to work, or a review before you sleep. You certainly don’t have this many options when singing up for in-person classes.
Second, you can learn at your own pace – no matter how fast or slow. Having trouble with a specific lesson? Language software is flexible enough that you can repeat lessons until you’ve mastered them. This can help you recall new concepts and words much easier. Also, if you’re a naturally fast learner, you can become fluent in a matter of months. This kind of progress really can’t happen with traditional language courses, because the pace of these courses depend on the slowest learner. If you learn with language software instead, you’ll just be following your own pace.
Now that you know how language learning software can help you, what are your options?
This is one of the newer online courses out there. They initially started by offering Rocket Spanish, but now they are offering almost a dozen online courses – and this number is growing.
Apart from the language itself, Rocket Languages also includes several add-on enhancements to their program. There are culture and language lessons that can help you speak in a more naturalistic way. Also, after some key lessons, you can answer interactive tests, including certification tests, that can help you check for fluency. And, if you’re the forgetful type, they have a feature called MyVocab which can help you collect and store words or phrases that you’d like to review in the future.
There’s also an additional language taught at Rocket Languages that you won’t find in other language online classes – American Sign Language. This can be really handy if you want to learn more than just the usual languages offered by most online courses.
Official website: http://www.rocketlanguages.com/
This is one of your options when you want to learn a language online. LiveMocha’s approach is similar to Rosetta stone, except it’s an online course with a social networking angle. Your written and speaking exercises are reviewed by other members who are native speakers of the language you are trying to learn.
There is one problem, though. Since LiveMocha is peer-to-peer learning, you can’t expect the reviews and corrections made on your work to be as accurate and correct as they would be with a professional teacher.
Michel Thomas Method
The Michel Thomas Method was developed by linguist and language teacher Michel Thomas. Its approach is that language learning should be the responsibility of the teacher, and that the students should not make a straining effort to learn the language. Its proponents claim that with this method, you can speak fluently in a matter of days.
One of the challenges with the Michel Thomas Method is that it can be too fast-paced, especially those who are new to language learning. The program is also mostly based on speaking/listening, so if you want to improve your writing and reading skills, it might be better to look for another program. Additionally, since Michel Thomas passed away, there were very few updates made to his audio programs and books. This means that the language course selection is limited, and the quality of the recordings aren’t as crisp as modern digital recordings.
This is probably one of the most advertised language learning tools out there. They use what they call a “dynamic Immersion Method” to help students learn a new language, much like how a child learns its first language.
There are many languages you can choose from, but you have to purchase the program and install it on your computer. The latest version, Version 4 TOTALe, also features an online course that connects you with a language teacher who is a native speaker of the language you are trying to learn.
One of the main difficulties working with Rosetta Stone is the expense. The base program itself can be expensive and, to become fluent in the language, you have to purchase between 3 to 5 levels, and maybe even an add-on audio companion course. Given that there are many free and inexpensive language learning programs out there, Rosetta Stone might not be an economical choice.
Official website: http://www.rosettastone.com/
Miscellaneous online podcasts
Almost every imaginable language now has an online course in the form of audio or video podcasts. Many of these are free. All you have to do is use Google to find “podcast learn” plus the language you want to learn. Some examples of these are Coffee Break Spanish, Melnyk’s Chinese, and the Learn Thai Podcast.
While this approach is usually free, it has a lot of drawbacks. First of all, usually only the first few lessons are free. You might have to pay a one-time fee or a recurring membership fee to access the rest of the lessons. Also, the quality of these lessons are not assured. Many of the people who create these online courses aren’t really teachers. While their lessons can be useful, using them as the foundation of your language learning efforts may not be a good idea.
Based on your above options, it seems like Rocket Languages is your best bet for learning a course online. Apart from the easy access to your lessons, you’re guaranteed to have a structured, tested lesson plan that helps you learn and retain your new language as effectively as possible.