Online Education Versus Traditional Education: Which Is Best?
This week I would like to talk about the battle between online education versus traditional education.
I believe that I am learning Spanish so much faster and a lot more efficiently studying online than I would have had I signed up for traditional language learning classes in a traditional classroom environment.
I mentioned in my very first post that I have tried to learn other languages the “old fashioned way” – in a classroom with teachers, grammar books and forced role-play conversations with other students etc. It’s not great to learn something just because it’s part of a curriculum, especially if you’re not particularly interested.
Despite being taught English from grade 4 to grade 12 in Denmark, my English skills did not improve a lot until I actually moved to England after high school, and was surrounded by the language at all times. But even while I was still a kid in Denmark going to school, it was music and movies that helped me improve my skills, not the boring classes at school.
In a traditional language learning environment a typical lesson looks like this: Students read a text and are asked to answer a number of questions. The teacher acts as judge or examiner. He or she then explains difficult words and grammatical structures. Additionally the class may include reading some texts out loud to practice pronunciation. In the next lesson they read a new text and repeat the procedure. Sometimes, roleplaying is thrown in to make things slightly more exciting.
There are many issues with this type of learning. First of all as a student, you do not get to choose the texts that you’re reading and that is not very motivating, so even if you really wanted to learn the language and had the motivation, being forced to read texts you are not interested in can potentially completely kill your motivation.
Secondly, if the sole purpose of reading a text is to answer some dumb questions then you can find the answers and respond (the answers might even be at the back of the book) without even understanding the text.
Being forced to do something has never been a great motivator, and the only pros of traditional language learning that I can think of are:
> You don’t need much self-discipline because you are being made to study.
> You are forced to think about grammar, which as an independent language learner I avoid because I hate it.
> In a classroom environment you’re not alone, and this may be a good thing if you are an extrovert. (Having said that, on LingQ there’s a great community of people that you can reach out to should you ever feel isolated, so as an independent language learner, you aren’t necessarily alone unless you choose to be).
Why studying online is better
Steve Kaufmann and numerous other language enthusiasts have said many times that motivation is the key to successfully learning a new language.
I couldn’t agree more, which is why I think that studying online independently when you have a good reason like travelling, work or just due to pure interest in a certain language beats forced language learning every time.
Studying online gives you more:
When you study online it is up to you to decide when you are ready to see a teacher or even if you ever want to involve anyone other than yourself (It is probably a good idea eventually, but it’s up to you). That gives you all the freedom in the world. The freedom to involve others or not and this is especially great for shy people like me, I am not yet ready to speak with others but online studying leaves it up to me when that will happen.
Like I mentioned earlier, when studying in a traditional environment it is up to the teacher to decide what you read and why. When studying online, you get to choose.
On LingQ I can import pretty much anything that takes my fancy from music to movies or whatever it may be. There are telenovelas in Spanish from every single Spanish speaking country that are fun to watch.There are numerous great movies from the Spanish speaking world. There are famous singers whose songs I may not yet understand, but I can listen and look up words that I want to learn.
I don’t need to learn from some dry textbook.
This is closely related to freedom of course, but studying online independently opens language learning up to an array of many different choices that you have to make as an independent language learner.
Things such as how much time you want to spend, where you want to study and when you want to reach certain goals – those are all choices that you have to make.
The thing about studying online and by yourself is that it takes a certain degree of self-discipline, but if you’ve got the motivation then making the right choices is easy.
4. Studying at home
This one is short, but sweet. Maybe you don’t feel like leaving the house one day, maybe it’s raining or snowing or maybe it’s too sunny? There are lots of excuses for not studying, but when you are studying online not wanting to leave the comfort of your own home isn’t one of them.
5. Studying online on YOUR time
To me having the freedom to choose when I want to study and how much time I want to spend on it, is one – if not the – best thing about studying online. If I have time to study two hours one day and only half an hour the next day then that’s what I’ll do. I can study at 2am or 2pm – it is up to me.
Do you agree with me that studying online is better than traditional classroom language learning or do you perhaps miss a more traditional approach? I’d love to hear what you think.