IRL Language Learning Beats Online Courses

Language is the foundation of our communication as a society, and in this day and age, learning a foreign language has become more beneficial than ever before. For this reason, students should be required to take a foreign language in school, as opposed to learning from a website or app. First, online learning requires a great amount of self-discipline, which many students struggle with. Second, most language websites and apps do not offer an option to practice speaking and listening. Third, by learning a foreign language in a classroom setting, students will not only learn the language, but will gain practical life-skills as well.

If students learn from an app or website, they have to be diligent in practicing the language daily so they can successfully learn the language. While some students can pull this off, many lack the discipline to sit down for a substantial amount of time and practice. Others are simply too busy. On top of their homework, sports practice, and social life, they would have to sacrifice time in their already-packed schedule to practice. This is an unrealistic objective that students will struggle to achieve. It is much more effective for a student to learn a foreign language in a traditional classroom.

Practicing, speaking, and listening to a language is arguably the most important aspects of the whole learning experience. Without proper practice in communication and active listening, a student will not be able to fully grasp the language. Mr. Burke, one of the Spanish teachers on campus, gave some insight on this topic.

“The fear of speaking [the language] is a big deterrent for learning it, so it’s important to do [speaking] in person,” Burke said. “So, you can do well by using a website, but unfortunately, when you get in the real situation you’re gonna want to be comfortable speaking it with someone really listening to you.”

Learning a foreign language connects students to new cultures and their people. When a student learns a foreign language, they open themselves up to new experiences and opportunities. Although some websites and apps do provide the option to practice with a native speaker, they are limited in providing quality speaking and listening instruction.
Students who learn in a classroom are also able to hone their public speaking, teamwork, and listening skills. Using an app or website to learn eliminates the person-to-person interaction and team building aspect that is so crucial to learning a language.

“When you’re gonna use [the language] in real life, it’s gonna be with people, not with a website,” Burke said. The life-skills that students learn are based upon their relationships and communication with other people. There is no app or website that can replace speaking with a person face-to-face.

One might object that apps and websites provide flexibility, and can improve responsibility for students that a regular classroom setting cannot. However, the “flexibility” that online learning implements can lead to sporadic and inconsistent practice sessions that slows the progress of the student’s learning. While it may be true that e-learning can improve responsibility, it is easier for busy students to eliminate one extra thing from their “to-do list” and streamline their schedule. With all this considered, the traditional classroom setting should not be drowned out by the modern wave of e-learning; the experiences that are unique to the classroom have too big of an impact on students to be forgotten.

All in all, students should learn a foreign language in the classroom because of the consistency, effectiveness, and experience that students gain. Technology is helpful for countless tasks, but when it comes to learning a language, students should stick to the tried and true method of learning: in classrooms.