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Wednesday, August 01, 2012 (read 330 times)
Can you really learn Spanish Online?by Seun
Online language learning is one of the latest branches of online education or e-learning. With a multitude of websites offering a variety of online tools and teaching methods, it has even been suggested on one website that a visit to the target language country is not a necessity.
They mock our generation for our dependency on the internet and laugh our seeming laziness to scorn; but nevertheless, it is verily true that you can find anything online. That effortless efficiency provided by the World Wide Web is the jus ad bellum for the computer revolution which has resulted in our living of a rather modified lifestyle. There is an inexhaustible list of essential, routine jobs and tasks which, although may once have required some great amount of time, persistence, and effort, are now accessible to the realm of even the most slothful. Undoubtedly, the speed, reliability and cost effectiveness of the email, for example, makes it the perfect medium for maintaining long distance correspondence; a job once delegated to the telephone and, before that great invention, to the oscillating reliability of the post service. But certainly, on that list of jobs which the internet claims to be able to undertake, alongside that number of jobs to which the internet is now best suited, is an equal number of jobs which the computer is as of yet incapable of achieving.
Unfortunately, cursed with bitter fortune, wanting for prudence and awestruck by the internet’s successes, many are left blinded to the internet’s weaknesses which, in language learning, manifest themselves in these forms:
Uncorrected mistakes – these are undoubtedly an issue and almost entirely inevitable. In language learning which is so heavily based on frequent repetition (in the early stages at least), mistakes which go uncorrected for lack of a teacher can surely only have heavily disastrous consequences.
Little room for misunderstanding – as a result of the aforementioned issue, misunderstanding is also incompatible with online language learning. The lack of face-to-face teaching contact means that, even if online language exercises and tests highlight the pupil’s errors, there is still no way of ensuring that he understands all of those intricate parts of language.
Lack of natural speaking environment – a third and rather obvious point highlights the isolation in which one tends to use the internet. Without human contact, the integral part and role of language remains unpractised.
Having written so critically of one method without going on to suggest an ideal alternative, I run the risk of appearing to simply criticise for the sake of it. But it is here that I denounce authorship and accept the role of the mere scribe, whose writings are in fact no more than what has been said to him. Surely there is no ideal language learning method. Even the traditional methods which have made bilinguals of so many have simultaneously failed many others. As such, it would be unfair, untrue and unhelpful to say that internet language learning as a concept does not work. In practice, however, clouded by ignorance and lack of discretion, amongst them that entertain the possibility of learning language through the medium of the internet, there are many who remain unaware of the challenges inherent in the task of mastering a language.
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