Hardly a day goes by at the VICI Language Academy in Newbury without an enquiry from someone who is passionate about learning a language but who has been deterred after trying – and failing – to learn a language online after downloading apps or buying online language training.
This isn’t sour grapes on our part. Absolutely not! If learning languages by listening and repeating worked we would be selling online courses and not offering lessons! There isn’t necessarily even a cost saving with some courses costing hundreds of pounds.
We know that people need to feel inspired to learn a language and that is what teaching can achieve with interactive classes and what prompt feedback can offer. When you know how you are doing you feel inspired to learn more.
Being part of our Language Academy also offers the accountability that many people need to commit to learning. Unlike a DVD that will happily gather dust while you find other things to distract you from your goal of becoming bilingual.
So we are interested to see that The Guardian is putting such apps and online learning to the test. It wants to find out if it is possible to learn a language only using online tools. Currently three writers are trying to learn a language using a piece of language-learning technology.
Matt Hambly, deputy editor of Esquire Weekly, will be learning French with Rosetta Stone; Alan Haburchak, adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School, will use DuoLingo to learn Spanish; and freelance journalist Anna Parkin will be learning Russian with a Skype tutor.
They are already reporting their progress and it makes interesting reading and you can follow their progress with the case for language learning series or on Twitter using the hashtag #LearnALanguageOnline – and keep an eye for our tweets from @VICI_Languages as we join in the debate.
It should be said that those who comes to VICI feeling they have wasted time and money on such online language learning do discover there is a silver lining. Listening to them once they are learning in lessons can be beneficial and our native speaking coaches will often use online resources as part of lessons and also to reinforce learning outside the classroom.
The truth is we do not mind how people discover the richness and benefits of learning a new language, we just get cross when they are misled into thinking there is a quick solution to something that like anything worth doing, is worth doing well with the kind of commitment that will deliver real results whatever your chosen language.
So whether you have tried to learn a language online or want to learn in the classroom, contact the VICI Language Academy today and we will explore the best way to help you.