Face-to-face vs. Online Learning – Choosing the Right Language Learning Strategy

There are countless languages to learn- and countless tools to help you! The best approach for language learning depends on what you prefer. Here are the pros and cons of various strategies to help you successfully learn a language:

Face-to-Face (In-Person)

Pros: Most of Global LT’s clients request face-to-face (in-person) language learning for their employees. There’s a good reason for this! Face-to-face learning is the most direct and most effective. A teacher can correct your pronunciation and show how a native speaker actually uses the language. Meeting weekly– or several times a week– helps you stay motivated, too.

Cons: Face-to-face can be inconvenient for a number of reasons. If you are busy or travel frequently, it may be much harder to keep a regular appointment with your teacher. Finding a meeting place or just getting there can be an issue (“Traffic is bad at 5 p.m., and the café gets noisy”). If you’re in a remote area, or you want to learn a less commonly-taught language (“I’d love to learn Korean…but I’m in Ohio,”), it will be harder to find experienced teachers nearby.

Online/Skype

Pros: Online lessons are convenient if you can’t meet face-to-face, especially if you’re in the middle of relocating. Lessons can be taught through Skype or other mobile apps, no matter where you are. Global LT offers students its own virtual platform, GLT Connect.

Cons: Your learning might be more passive than active, and you might miss important nonverbal cues. These communication gaps offset the cost savings of online learning, according to the Association for Talent Development. Weak internet connection can also make it difficult to hear and cause frustrating dropped calls.

Self-Paced language learning

Pros: Self-paced language learning works well for people who are highly motivated and want to go at their own speed. There are no shortage of books, tapes, and websites to help you learn any language you want. The website Open Culture provides a long list of resources for learning a language on your own.

Teachers can also use self-paced learning resources as a practice tool. Global LT and Rosetta Stone have partnered to offer students a blended learning program, which combines instructor-led training with Rosetta Stone Catalyst to reinforce skills between lessons.

Cons: Learning depends greatly on your own schedule and motivation — and that makes it easy to give up on trying. Without a teacher to guide you, you may find yourself lost in a sea of materials and not knowing where to start with self-paced learning. Books and tapes can’t keep up with constantly evolving languages and cultures. And even with YouTube videos or Pimsleur tapes, learning pronunciation on your own may be a struggle.

Conversation Partners & Language Exchanges

Pros: Think of conversation partners as the modern-day pen pals. Having a speaking partner lets you actively practice your target language and make friends around the world. Conversation partner can help you sound more like a native speaker or practice certain dialects (i.e. Canadian French, British English).

Conversation partners often engage in a language exchange. Language exchanges look like this: Miguel is a native Spanish speaker and Annie is a native English speaker. They agree to have conversations (usually on a regular schedule) in which Annie can practice her Spanish half the time, and Miguel can practice his English during the other half.

Before shutting down in 2016, Rosetta Stone’s Livemocha was a popular site that combined basic lessons with an online chat function.

Cons: Language exchanges are more effective as a supplemental resource than as a main strategy. If your partner doesn’t have a background in education or second language acquisition, he or she might not be able to explain why certain grammar rules work the way they do.

Dialect can work as a disadvantage, too. It may be hard to communicate with Brazilians if your partner is teaching you European Portuguese. Regional vocabulary might get you strange looks if a conversation partner fails to put it in context.

No matter what approach you choose, dedication and consistency help you speak your target language with ease. Global LT is happy to help our corporate clients and their employees chart the best path to successfully learn a new language.

For more information on language training options, please fill out a contact form or visit our Language Solutions page!