Currently there is a wide range of options available when it comes to studying languages. Some websites have a very well structured marketing; others are on the web, waiting for a chance to catch the learner’s eye offering them a trial session, course, or update. The question your students may ask you is: when it comes to languages, which is better: to study English online or to register in an institution to have fixed-schedule classes?
Let’s start by listing some of the alleged advantages of studying a language online:
- It saves money.
- The learners study when they feel like doing it.
- They can have access to class from their own phone.
- Weekly tasks can be done at any time during the week.
But, can we call them advantages? To start with: Do they save money because they have a sort of token to be used all year long? It may end up like registering to the gym for a year and attending sessions just one or two months! What is the gain, then?
It is true that studying when they are in the mood is more productive, but, what happens if they are never in the mood? They will not take any lessons, will they?
Everyone has a smartphone, but how smart is it to study using one’s phone? Unless the sessions are micro sessions and/or one has permanent Wi-Fi access, it will not be that cheap in the end.
Let’s talk about weekly assignments now: Are they going to be done in the last minute? What is the aim of doing homework then? (See https://languageteachingblogger.blogspot.com/2018/05/is-doing-homework-must.html)
As teachers with extensive experience in the teaching field, we are definitely in favour of students attending classes regularly, not only because “Practice makes perfect,” but also because the learning environment promotes participation, working in pairs or groups. Interaction in class has obvious benefits:
- Make a study time part of one’s routine.
- Take notes depending on one’s own learning style.
- Find at least one learning partner.
- Make sure they track their progress.
When they have fixed-scheduled-classes, they develop self-discipline and they are focused on learning.
On the other hand, everyone wants to be understood and in class, their teacher will be eager to help them fix mistakes that can be fossilized if repeated over and over.
When working with a classmate, benefits are multiple: not only they may find interest and academic background in common, but they can socialize in a real learning environment.
What is not easy to admit for some people is that not everyone is a natural born self-learner. Some guidance is needed and functional language requires a real interaction environment.
To make the right choice, students should set their aim first: What do they want to learn English for?
They must keep in mind their level of English. How long ago did they take formal lessons? How often would they like to have classes? What kind of student are them? Has their learning experience as a language student been successful so far? Do they know other people who have had positive experiences? Are they ready to do their own research? Once they gather all the answers to these questions, then they will be ready to choose the most suitable side of the coin for them.
NOW IT IS YOUR TURN:
Do you have experience as an online instructor/teacher?
Have you always been a face-to-face teacher?
Which one do you prefer and why?