Many of you will know that I teach English both online via Skype and face to face in my full-immersion intensive courses.
My online classes have increased over the last year as more and more clients appreciate the flexibility that online courses give them.
However, people still wonder whether learning English online is as effective as learning English face to face.
So I was delighted when Tracey Chandler approached me with a view of writing a post extolling the virtues of learning English online. In her guest post, she shares with us what she believes are the key advantages and benefits of learning online and what qualities you need as a learner to succeed in online learning.
Over to you, Tracey.
One of the largest myths surrounding English language classes online is that they’re not as good as studying English as a foreign language in the classroom. This is a myth. Online English language classes are just as good as learning English from a tutor in a classroom setting, but the way in which students learn is different and online language study isn’t right for everyone.
Timetable and scheduling
One of the main advantages for most people is that online English language courses can be completely organized to fit into any kind of busy schedule. Work commitments make classroom course study difficult to manage, particularly when work commitments are paired up with a family with young children to take care of.
Lots of people choose to study English online because they can schedule appointments with their tutors when they’re able to commit and they can complete the course outline at their own pace and whenever they have the time to dedicate a few hours to the task.
Classroom-based English language courses follow the timetable outlined by the institution. If the hours don’t coincide with the student’s free time, taking a course in English language learning is impossible.
It’s also a myth that via online language study students don’t get the opportunity to meet fellow students and socialise. Lots of people study, not just because they’re interested in learning or because they need a specific qualification, but because they enjoy meeting new people and interacting with others who share similar interests to themselves. The social side of study is really important to many students, particularly adult students.
However, online courses do provide the opportunity to interact with other people studying the same course. The manner in which interaction is conducted at the beginning is different to the manner in which it transcribes in a face-to-face course, but the end result can be just as fulfilling. At first, online language students might get to meet each other through Skype chats/classes or student forums/social media pages and groups.
Once those connections have been established, the same occurs as it does when students meet each other face to face. Students who want to socialise and get together away from the computer screen will make those arrangements. It’s not necessary to have a “classroom” to generate camaraderie with fellow students, or indeed with teachers.
Things to consider when choosing a language school for online English language lessons
There are lots of online English language courses for you to invest your time and money. It’s important to be careful and to choose an online course with an online institution which has the right kind of credentials.
- Accreditation: It’s really important to ensure that the institution meets all necessary requirements with regards to academic excellence. Investigate everything you can about the institution: which academic body governs its practices and what kind of qualifications its teachers must have in order to be taken on as part of the teaching staff. There are lots of highly professional institutions offering online English language courses, but there are many institutions which don’t have the kind of accreditation to ensure that the teaching and assessment will be of the highest quality.
- Completion rate: It’s also a really good idea to find out how many students sign up to the courses every year and how many students actually manage to see the courses through to the very end. If sign-up is high, but completion is low, it might be worth finding another institution to study with. There must be a reason for the heavy drop-out and that reason could well be a lack of organized management or poor teaching quality. If institutions are unwilling to share this information with you, this should also ring alarm bells too. There’s no reason why these figures should be kept from the public domain
What kind of personal qualities does the online student need?
Studying English as a foreign language online is not the same as attending a regular class with a group of fellow students around you to keep you motivated and a teacher to harass you to keep up with assignments. Naturally, online students have fellow classmates and teachers, but they are virtual. Learning English online is not for everyone.
It helps greatly if you’re self-motivated. All online learners need to feel comfortable working independently and studying alone. You’ll also need to make sure that your schedule is tightly organized and you must be disciplined enough to make sure you stick to that schedule. Otherwise, you might end up studying for years, but never get anywhere due to a lack of concentration and discipline.
It’s important to have all the equipment you’ll need at home, a secure and fast access internet connection and an ease with email communication or Skype-style lessons. Without a facility for working with computers and the Internet, online English language study can be really tough to get the hang of (get used to).
Online learning, as mentioned above, isn’t for everyone, but many people find it really useful and just as effective as studying in a traditional classroom environment.
Tracey Chandler represents Language Trainers, which provides individually-tailored language training on a one-on-one or small group basis worldwide
So there you have it. My thanks to Tracey for this very interesting post.
What do you think? Do you learn, are you learning or have you learned English online? How is/was the experience? Would you recommend it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
For my part, I have to say that I have established a wonderful rapport with all my online clients and there is as much fun and learning during the classes as in my full immersion courses.
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Ciao for now.