There are many ways to learn a new language: you can live in a country where the language is spoken, take a formal language course, get a private language teacher, or use books and written materials. Other ways to learn a foreign language include listening to CDs or audio tapes, watching TV, film and video programs, memorizing phrasebooks, using the internet, or a combination of all of these.
But not everyone can arrange to live in a foreign country. Native speakers of the language may not be available. Written or recorded commercial material may not be available in the language you are interested in (Cochimi, Cibemba or Kukapa anyone?). That’s right, many major languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese transmit television programs through cable. Even Koreans, Catalans, Arabs and Japanese have venues available in cosmopolitan areas worldwide; but the vast majority of the world’s thousands of spoken languages are simply not at large outside of their local territories. So what should a budding polyglot do?
One answer, of course, is the Internet. Type “foreign language courses” into an internet search engine like Google or Yahoo and you’ll instantly get over 62 million hits. From Afrikaans to Punjabi and Hebrew to Zulu, you have thousands of entries just a click away. So how exactly can the internet be used to tackle foreign language learning? Get started effectively with these six ways:
1. Conduct an initial assessment
The first thing you may want to know is where you are in the scheme of learning the language. An initial assessment of language skills is appropriate; are you a bloody beginner? Wrong beginner? intermediate level? Higher? Let’s take English as a second or foreign language as an example. English proficiency diagnostic tests are available online for free at:
• General English test with instant results
• Living room
(diagnostic tests in English, Spanish and French)
• Upper Intermediate Test
If you score more than 80% on this test, you should take the next one and also show a copy of the results to your teacher or tutor.
2. Familiarize yourself with language learning strategies
How do you learn? Knowing this can make the daunting task of learning a foreign language less like a study and more like a game. Are you a visuo-spatial learner who enjoys images, drawings, graphics, and heavy use of color? A musical-rhythmic type who would benefit from having your lessons and materials set to music, rhythm or rhyme? Maybe you’re the athletic type who would find more success learning through movement, movement, facial expressions, or even dance? Playing Mozart’s works in the background while studying has been shown to improve learning in a number of areas. To learn more about your way of learning, start by visiting these pages:
• Explanation of learning styles [http://www2.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm]
• Learning Styles Index Questionnaire [http://www2.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/ilsweb.html]
• The Achievement Type Learning Style Indicator [http://www.ttuhsc.edu/SOM/Success/LSTIntro.htm]
3. Practice reading skills
Literacy is one of the most valuable composite skills of the 21st century. After all, you’re reading THIS now, aren’t you? Few want to be illiterate in their new foreign language, so practicing reading skills is paramount. Online newspapers, magazines, newsletters and blogs can provide the necessary practice and learning materials. Check out these sites for reading comprehension skills:
• How to read your textbook more efficiently
• Self-study reading sessions http://www.english-to-go.com/
• Read the article at the following address:
Take the quiz at the address below to verify your identity
Understanding of the reading passage:
4. Help develop listening skills
Listening is considered the most difficult language skill to develop and cannot be taught. Rather, you need to practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Every week, twice a week, I would walk past a street vendor in the same spot, completely unaware of what he was saying. I knew what he was selling – I just looked at his wares. But his pleas in street Spanish fell on my speech-clogged ears for months. Then one night, without warning, it happened. Just two days ago his screams were the same unintelligible insults as they had been for months. That evening, however, as he joined in his grocer’s babble, I suddenly understood every word. My listening comprehension had clicked. Why then? Nobody knows. Especially not me, and I’m a postgraduate language education specialist!
For a change, practice your listening comprehension with radio programs in your target language which offers live global feeds in multiple languages 24 hours a day.
Foreign language internet radio and foreign news radio in 27 European, 4 Middle Eastern, 9 Asian languages and audio feeds from 19 African countries are broadcast on: http://www.multilingualbooks.com/online-radio.html
5. Play games and have fun
Vocabulary is often referred to as the building blocks of language. Vocabulary knowledge is one aspect that separates the language learning stages. The more vocabulary you know, the more communicative you are. Here are some unique linguistic sites to help you build your language while you “play”:
• That The site offers “interesting things for ESL students” such as songs, jokes, quizzes, puns, puzzles, slang and even podcasts to encourage English language acquisition.
• The website of the foreign language course at:
has activities in 27 languages including Finnish, Mandarin and Quechua.
• On the Transparent Language website, you can play games in over 100 languages, from Afrikaans to Farsi or Guarani to Yoruba. And yes, they have Zulu too. Check out all their offerings here: http://www.transparent.com/games/
6. Which language awakens your imagination?
While the choice of language courses, tutorials, newsfeeds, music and other audiovisual materials online is vast, simply not ALL the world’s languages are available. We’re sorry. But many are, and here’s how to find yours when it’s online.
• 108 FREE online foreign language courses are published at: http://www.word2word.com/coursead.html
• PARLO’s language website offers courses in English, Spanish, French and Italian at: [http://www.parlo.com/parlo21/home/courselist/courselist_en.asp]
• EL Easton Language Institute offers 14 languages online, ranging from Albanian to Japanese, Latin, Croatian, Russian and Spanish. The site is online at: http://eleaston.com/languages.html
• A wealth of language learning activities for the World Wide Web are online for practice activities from the University of Hawaii here: [http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/lss/lang/nflrc.html]
While the internet may not be the complete answer to all your foreign language learning needs, it can still be a tremendous resource in your endeavors to speak Habla Español, Parlez Francaise or Deutcsh. The prestige, financial gains, personal satisfaction, envy and opportunity that often accompany foreign language skills are unparalleled. Why not start trying some of these effective ways to use the internet to learn a language today? Be sure to read the accompanying article “Six Quick Language Learning Tricks” at: By the way, if you find Cochimi, Cibemba or Kukapa please let me know – I’m still looking.
Thanks to Larry M. Lynch | #Learning #Language #Effective #Ways #Internet