Are language classes worth it?
Some people need a framework, a structure to learn, so courses may seem like a good solution. Be careful however not to register for a course in order to have a good conscience, it also requires personal investment. The courses are not for all types of people, sometimes you have to find your own technique.
WHY TAKE A COURSE
Need for structure: It is often the case that you are reassured by the structure that a class brings, you can blend in, you are not the centre of attention. It also brings a certain form of competition that can be intellectually stimulating. If you need authority and discipline, if you can't manage yourself with regard to work then classroom lessons may be a good initiative, private lessons can be even more adapted to your needs.
Need feedback: A teacher will be able to see your evolution, advise you on things you need to change, put the finger on your difficulties because we are not always realistic towards ourselves. Some teachers may correct you without any explanation, don't hesitate to ask for it at the end of the class for example, it may be that they don't want to be vexed in front of the rest of the class. You can also ask to do homework to increase your abilities and show your personal investment.
Learning grammar: Taking a language course is very useful when it comes to grammar and you will not be able to learn a language without knowing its grammar. Grammar is the structure of any language and learning begins there. Doing lots of exercises will help you acquire a solid foundation. Grammar is also easier to learn in an environment where you hear people talking around you. The courses can offer digital content such as videos, listening, movies and much more...
Cheaper and more dynamic: group classes will be cheaper than private classes and if you like to work in a group and are stimulated by others then this is the option for you. If you don't feel able to learn by yourself and you need interaction, creativity, group classes are a good way to learn a language.
Giving ourselves a clear conscience: Often we want to take the initiative to do something like learning a new language, for example to be able to do language exchanges. But we have to be aware that it is not an instantaneous thing : it is not enough to sign up for a course to learn a language, it requires a lot of personal investment in addition to the classes.
Not personalised enough: If you need real feedback, intensive follow-up, you may have to resort to private tuition so that the teacher's primary concern is you and not the class. You will also feel more comfortable and have no choice but to participate in the exercises and activities. This is not always the case in a class depending on your shyness and involvement.
Vocabulary: Often teachers will give you lists of vocabulary to memorize and do all kinds of exercises to help you retain the words, however this is not the best way to learn the vocabulary of a language. Vocabulary words often have different meanings when taken out of context, and most of the time vocabulary exercises are not stimulating.
Boring content: Most of the time the examples and other exercises will not be interesting, especially if the level is very low, but if they are not placed in a familiar context in which you recognize yourself, you may get tired quickly.
WHAT OTHER ALTERNATIVES
Studying: Set precise objectives, train every day, speak aloud, prepare exercises, keep a notebook to see your progress, read books, be disciplined and don't get overwhelmed by the situation. Give yourself dates to respect, establish a precise plan of what you want to learn when and how.
Use websites/applications: You will find many tools available on the internet, from websites to do exercises, to evaluate you to vocabulary applications. You can even chat with people from all over the world to learn the language of your choice, as you can do with our Studenz website in the language exchange section.
Total immersion: The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it by being in contact with it every day. So if you are lucky enough to have the choice, and nothing is holding you back, make the decision to go for a while to a country where the language you want to learn is spoken. Work, meet people and you will find that you will have a very enriching experience personally and that you will learn the language in the blink of an eye.
Don't be too demanding with yourself it won't always be easy to make this kind of decision, going abroad alone is a big step and you have to be sure of yourself.
Film/Series: You can also combine the useful with the enjoyable and watch your favourite series or films in the language you want to learn. You can take a movie you know well and put the subtitles in your language at the beginning to make it easier, then you can watch the same movie with the subtitles in the language you want to learn this time and when you are ready you can watch it one last time in the language you are learning. Of course this technique is not enough and must be complementary to another one.
Online courses: There are also free online courses that are offered to learn languages, with real teachers, video courses, online exercises without the need to travel to a class and be with other students. This will cost you much less than classroom classes and you can choose to arrange your time as you wish and learn the language at your own pace without being slowed down by people with a lower level.
And you, what are your techniques and opinions on language courses? Come and discuss this with other people trying to learn a language on our Studenz website in the language exchange section.
Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer
- Learning Languages
- 24 Feb, 2020
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