There is no going around it. Learning a new language requires meticulous effort, time and dedication. Whether you learn it at university, at home or at a language school, only proper immersion and having a native teacher to converse with will get you to a decent level.

There are, however, more and more online language courses available worldwide. One only has to Google “Russian online course” to be overwhelmed by 374.000.000 results! Now where to start… Do people really learn languages online? Is it worth it? Will I not give up after five lessons? Is it financially more interesting? And the questions go on and on.

I therefore decided to embark on a brief quest to find out for myself if learning a language online is possible, uncover the key tips to do so and most importantly how to stay on top of your remote studying once you have embarked on it.

This article will be the first of a series of three and it will allow me to highlight the benefits of learning a language online. Now, let’s get started!

1. Learn only where and when you want to

Learning a language is best when you do so in a country that uses it. Now everyone cannot just wake up and decide to go to Russia for the next few months. Work, emotional and financial obligations are part of our daily lives and online courses are a good remedy to this. Imagine a school that never closes. Whether really early or late, during your lunch break or on your holidays, once you have a phone or laptop and a decent internet connection you are able to access the realm of online language courses.

You do not have to dress up, endure the bad weather conditions and traffic jams or have to go to the closest town that provides similar classes if you live on the countryside. If you are very shy and are not keen on having your teacher see you, just turn off your webcam and enjoy being in the comfort of your own home. You do not have to leave your comfort zone!

Online learning is all about taking responsibility of your education. You are in control of when, where and what you will learn. Now such freedom of choice does not suit everyone, and I will cover the potential downsides – and how to overcome them – in my next two articles.

Do not forget however that online and in-classroom courses are not incompatible! The latter can help you consolidate and review the materials you covered in class. So, if like me, you rather enjoy the social atmosphere of a classroom you can enjoy one or two online courses on the week-ends or in the evening in order to revise it all more intensely or cover materials that are not planned in your usual curriculum.

2. Choose what you want to learn

The beauty of online courses is that you choose what you want to learn. Now, of course, there is the “basic” grammar and vocabulary that you’ll have to master in order to utilise the language in your daily life. Now imagine you are a lawyer, a banker, a businessman or an architect, there are some words that you will require more than most people.

This is of course also possible in one-on-one classes but without all the other benefits provided by online language courses.

3. Make your piggy bank happy

Not only do you not have to travel in order to attend class but so does your teacher. This greatly reduces the price of classes and thus makes them a very attractive alternative to one-on-one courses.

4. It allows you to multitask more easily

Now when I’m attending a “traditional” class I tend to get overwhelmed. I have two notebooks, my textbook, my post-its, my dictionary and I end up struggling to get a hold of everything that is being said whilst taking my notes.

Computers make it all easier. You can have your teacher on one tab, your dictionary and translator on the second one, a Google doc with the vocabulary on the third and your teacher can even access it in order to correct your spelling or underline your mistakes simultaneously! This is especially useful as a beginner because it will get you speaking faster as you have the comfort of having access to the words you are looking for without having to look up for it for five minutes and have your teacher wait for you…

Moreover, there is now a wide range of software which allows you to record the audio/video of your lesson, thus incredibly simplifying your revision and study in the future.

Benefit At Language School Online
Cost Potentially more expensive Potentially cheaper
Flexibility Certain hours only 100% Flexible schedule
Location Requires a school in your area or traveling to study abroad Requires only an Internet connection
Content Group lessons follow the school’s curriculum

Only individual lessons will allow a more personalized approach

Online lessons allow a more personalized approach
Tools and Multitasking Multitasking is rendered more difficult due to the lack of de-materialized tools at hand during class Allows you to multitask, record and revise more easily

How about you? Have you ever tried out online language courses? If so, what tips did you pick up along the way?

If you’re interested in learning more about learning languages online, keep up with my next two articles and why not give it a try?

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Posted by Sarah Wissing Здравствуйте! My name is Sarah and I am currently interning at the Liden & Denz Language Centre in St. Petersburg. I am originally from Belgium where I just finished my Law undergraduate.

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