And How to Achieve Paperless Learning

There are tremendous advantages to learning a language online.  Many aspiring language speakers dismiss the notion of taking an online language course because they think it will be boring or a waste of time.  If you check out what I wrote on how to learn French fast, you will see that I do not even really discuss the opportunities of online learning.  But make no mistake about it – the benefits greatly outweigh the costs of taking an online language course.   I am a speaker of French and German and have learned the languages by living in those countries as well as taking online French courses and online German courses.  I am going to talk a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of following an online language course.

First, let’s discuss the benefits.  One of the biggest considerations that people need to think about before they decide how they will learn a language is cost.  An online French course averages about 350 dollars, whereas a course at a local college or language school is usually upwards of 1000 dollars.  An online French course is by no means cheap.  However, acquiring a life skill that can bring huge cultural, educational, and monetary benefits is never an easy process.

Another great advantage of learning a language online is the portability of online courses.  Not only is taking a course at a language school prohibitively expensive, but it is also time consuming and involves logistical considerations.  Taking a class at a nearby language school or college involves driving, finding or paying for parking, coordinating for babysitters, and sitting in a classroom for upwards of three hours each time.   An online language course, on the other hand, is extremely portable.  All that is needed is an internet connection, a computer, and possibly some speakers or headphones.  The course can be started, paused, and stopped whenever you want. 

Another benefit of taking an online language course that is connected to portability is the lack of “stuff” needed to learn.  Online learning means that books are no longer needed.  For online language courses like Fluenz all that is needed is to install software on your computer.  Other companies, such as Rocket , offer fully online courses without any required downloads.  Lastly, companies such as Rosetta Stone offer both fully online courses as well as courses on CD.  This lack of “stuff” can truly be liberating and lessen the accumulation of paper that often comes with learning.

Are there downsides to taking an online language course?  Absolutely.  There is no doubt that some people are social learners and benefit from a classroom environment.  Additionally, I find it far easier to practice pronouncing words in a class with friends rather into a microphone.  However, in my opinion learning a language online has far more advantages than disadvantages.

Rosetta Stone