Apps, learn locally or study abroad - which is best?
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and learn a language. Like with all things, there are varying levels of commitment and tools available to help you progress. Read on as we dissect the pro’s and con’s of learning through an app on your mobile, locally in your city or making the move to study abroad.
Mobile apps have become quite popular in recent times and with different brands offering a wide range of languages to choose from, there is no shortage! Many offer a free version, and it’s quick and easy to download, install and register. You can start your language journey within minutes.
Upside: Apps definitely have their place when it comes to teaching a language. From scratch? Not so sure. The real benefit is having access to an extensive vocabulary where you can practice in your free time to keep up your already fluent language skills. Or maybe you’ve decided to travel for a week or two and need to learn some food basics to make sure you can handle restaurant ordering and take a cab!
Downside: The Conversation recently pointed to some research done on language apps which revealed it’s still seen as an informal method of learning a language. Users aren’t convinced they’ll be pro’s in no time, especially as 2/3 spend around 15 minutes on the app about 3 times a week. The other 1/3 are more invested, but with many practice exercises only providing a yes or no answer there is no explanation if the answer is incorrect. It will take a lot of patience and time to get to a level you could reach much quicker by studying abroad.
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Are you thinking to enroll at a university or language school to improve your language skills? This option definitely has the convenience factor of being close to home, but once you’ve spent the money on your school fees it may fall short on promising you fluency.
Upside: Face-to-face language learning with a tutor or teacher is definitely better than app learning. Human interaction means you can expect explanations when you make a mistake, quickly pick up the correct pronunciation of words, and practice while in class with back and forth conversations. You can hone your grammar, reading and writing skills with a teacher or tutor’s guidance, and if you work hard you will definitely progress!
Downside: No matter how good your textbooks and teachers are, nothing will prepare you for having a fluid conversation in another language if you don’t practice, practice, practice! When you learn another language in your own city, it will be confined to class time and you’ll switch straight back to your native tongue the minute you leave the lecture hall. This can stall your progression if you never gain the confidence to speak.
It’s clear, in order to become fluent in another language that total immersion is the only way to go.
Upside: It’s a no-brainer, not only will you have the benefits of great textbooks and teachers to help you during class time but you will also be surrounded by the language 24/7, which means you’ll quickly gain the confidence to talk. You’ll need to order food, buy a train ticket and deal with everyday life in your new language. You’ll also be exposed to the native accents and those of other foreign students trying to learn the same language as you, this will help refine your listening capabilities and further develop your conversational skills.
"Studying English in Switzerland is not the same, because even though you learn it in school or wherever you are, you won't speak it with people outside. You will learn a very basic English and forget about it, you won't talk fluently with other people. But here, in England, you talk every single day in English so it's good for fluency."
- Cleo, Switzerland, studied in Cambridge
Downside: Courses abroad may be expensive. You have to fund your flights overseas, your accommodation and school fees and depending on why you’ve decided to learn another language, it’s a big decision. However, it’s doable! Whether you have to become a savvy saver or deliver a passionate pitch to your parents, your future is a worthwhile investment.
Why not join countless other students who have taken the leap to study English abroad, many of whom have wanted to improve their career opportunities. Choose to study with Kaplan, we have over 38 schools across the English-speaking world.