If you are ‘of a certain age,’ you remember when learning a new language meant repetitive drills and conjugating verbs. Eventually, you learned, but it wasn’t very enjoyable. If you stopped pursuing language learning before you became fluent, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are better methods today. Language learning instructors have new methods and tools for teaching foreign languages. Here are nine of the best.
1. Communicative Approach
This approach integrates all four types of communication while educating students using real-world scenarios. For example, students might engage in weekly video calls with native speakers, cook recipes written in foreign languages, or write to-do lists in their target language. The idea here is immersion and relevance.
2. Total Physical Response
Physical movement helps with language acquisition. That’s the basis of total physical response. Students use body movements, props, facial expressions, and other forms of physicality to act out the meaning of foreign language words and phrases.
3. 2nd Life
Second Life wasn’t created as a foreign language learning tool. However, it’s been revealed as a very effective platform for that purpose. For the unfamiliar, Second Life is an online virtual world that was developed nearly 20 years ago to allow people to create characters, communities, and worlds to interact with one another. Now, foreign language instructors and their students are using the platform to build communities where they can engage in the language they are learning.
4. Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone is probably the most highly regarded, self-directed, language learning software. That’s for good reason. It is also a great platform for those who would like to improve their fluency and be able to work for top online translation services. This very high-quality package is designed to meet the needs of almost any learner, so many business professionals have used this to quickly develop fluency.
5. Grammar Translation Model
The grammar-translation model is an excellent method when written skills are desired. This teaching method is also common when teaching archaic or ‘dead’ languages such as Latin. It focuses on teaching students grammar by comparing patterns to their native language. For example, a student may diagram a sentence in their native language, then do the same in their new language so that they can see the difference.
Fluenz is an online language learning platform that was created with the intention of developing fluency. The developers pride themselves on mentioning that this is a tool for serious learners, not a gamified time-waster. It uses an immersive learning method that involves engagement with fluent language speakers.
This is a casual language learning platform where students may choose from one of 14 languages to learn. Students choose a language they wish to learn and answer questions about their learning goals, current knowledge of the language, then recommend a place to begin. Users may choose to only engage with the app or have a more social experience with other speakers.
LingQ uses immersive learning to help people become fluent in new languages. Their curriculum is based on the idea that new languages are best acquired in the same way that native languages are. Students consume content to learn their language. This includes books, podcasts, politics, food, travel, and culture. This is also a great supplement for intermediate learners who want to apply their skills by engaging with real-world content.
Omniglot is an online encyclopedia that acts as a reference and knowledge base 4 those who are passionate about language learning, etymology, and other cultures. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to take a deeper dive into the origins of the language they are studying, or learn more about less popular languages. There are even references to fictional languages such as Klingon.
While there are many methods and tools for learning languages that have proven effective, the best choice for language learning is highly personal. The best approach is to research the tools and programs that are available to you. Consider the amount of time you have to dedicate and reach your end goals. Remember that someone seeking the ability to have a light conversation and understand another culture will have different learning needs than one who wants to acquire native fluency. Whatever your choice, check out the nine options listed above.