For much of the period, students have been relying upon the language learning courses proffered in their institutions. These students claim that learning from a foreign language dictionary is pale, as compared to the interaction derived with a language tutor.
However, this college-derived language learning is expensive. Students affected by this setback are interestingly seen as a lucrative market for firms, like the Rosetta Stone, Berlitz, TellMeMore, Livemocha, and Babbel.
The first technologies
But before students got to these firms, the early language learning that was propelled by technology were those coming from videos and online newspapers (i.e., newswire) and magazines (i.e., ezines). Of course, the reason for such use is evident: these tools are available and free of charge.
How were these sources used by these language learners? For videos, much of its use depended in the kind of video. Videos showcasing native speakers are used for:
a) Familiarising with the authentic accent
b) Learning cultural contexts by which a term is used
On the other hand, videos that was actually geared towards teaching, or referred to as “video tutorials” are inclined towards the informative side. And since the level of advancement is measured at least via three known phases, the beginner, intermediate, and advanced, these tutorial videos are proffered in series.
Reading authentic newspapers or magazines present a different learning experience as opposed to the usual dictionary-ogling. For this trick to work, students must restrict their online readings to topics already familiar to them. It should also be of interest; otherwise, students will hardly find the reading useful.
The modern ones
The transition from those early technological tools is said to be paved by the revolutionary access to internet connection and portability of mediums or gadgets. If you only trust paid-products, all you have to do is download software. On the other hand, if you could only afford freebies, you can settle for applications or apps.
On most cases, free-trial package or apps are on initial offer. If students find the tools useful and consider advance language learning, then it’s the ripe time to proffer the paid-software products.
If there is one trait that distinguishes these modern technology products with that of the early ones, it is this: never boring. The early ones, though effective at some level, don’t necessarily engage the language learner. And even if students are eager to learn, if they find the tool dull, they might not necessarily stick with it.
So, how is this trait embedded in today’s design? Some software and apps are retrofitted with colourful images that correspond to the term’s contextual meaning. At other times, these tools are combined with some early tools – only this time, its visual design involves cool animations. But the most winning feature, of course, is games. With games in tow, language learning can also become a fun experience.
These technologies, however, need to be always complemented with language tutors because even in this technological context, nothing beats the interaction and feedback inherent with tutors around.
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