How technology can help students learn a foreign language

Technology offers the flexibility to use a combination of tools and methods to help students absorb new information and efficiently learn. In today’s digital age, technology offers many powerful learning tools for teachers to use in classrooms and also for students to study with on their own.

Benefits of technology in language learning

Remote access to language learning

Technology offers audiences all over the world with language learning resources that they can access where and when they can. Students are no longer required to follow face-to-face learning paths as they can instead access what they need to online, and then further utilize their skills by practicing in-person. This offers a lot more flexibility and in turn, more people are learning languages as they can do it on their own schedule. Online resources also included those provided by native language speakers, which provides proper language immersion for language learners.

Interactive learning

Learning in a classroom means that inevitably, some students will tune out at one point or another. Using technology creates an interactive learning environment where students can ‘do’ rather than just listen and learn. Everyone learns at their own pace, so using technological tools and resources can also offer some relief to students that may be shy or feel embarrassed, as well as a space for students to dive deeper into courses and topics that they want to focus in on. With interactive learning, the learning process is more fluid and you can incorporate different methods of learning into your lesson plans and learning paths where it seems fit.

Students may be more inclined to practice using technology

Many people are simply in the habit of using technology on a day-to-day basis. So using technology to learn a language can often be easily integrated into a student’s daily routine. 10-15 minutes of practicing a language can be easily done between social media usage and surfing the Internet!

Here are 5 technological tools that aid foreign language acquisition:

  1. Language learning apps

Since consistency is key in learning a foreign language, language-learning apps are incredibly valuable tools to enhance the language learning process. For example, Babbel is very useful for learning a foreign language, as it encourages convenient daily practice and provides users with exercises that simulate real-life conversation. The app has a very intuitive interface and is compatible with most mobile devices. 

  1. Collaborative tools
    Having a buddy and supportive group to learn a foreign language with can help students significantly advance their skills. Students can interact with one another on Google Docs, for example, share helpful resources with one another, or even follow a blog in a foreign language that helps them interact with content that is of interest to them.
  1. Music
    Music is a fun way for students to be surrounded by a foreign language and keep their ears tuned to it. Teachers can have it on in the background during class breaks or encourage students to listen to music in their free time and try to tune into the meaning and gain new vocabulary words.
  1. Educational websites
    Students can download practice exercises and access learning tools such as digital flash cards on educational websites. If a specific verb conjugation is proving to be difficult for a student, for example, he or she can search for ‘X exercises’ online and get a variety of ways on how to use the grammar concept.
  1. Videos
    Online videos, such as structured language learning videos available for free on YouTube or simply something of interest to them, are extremely helpful for students to improve their comprehension skills. Be sure to look for videos that are produced by a native language speaker!

Future technology

As technology continues to advance, foreign language learners will benefit, as they will have more tools and methods to help advance their skills. Technology in general is seeing a lot of movement towards AI and this absolutely applies to the language learning space, as well. For example, Glossika, a linguistics company using AI for language learning, even claims that a language beginner can become fluent in just a matter of a few months with daily 20-minute lessons. Glossika CEO Michael Campbell credits the success to the combination of AI and a systemic approach to language learning stating, “Fluency first, vocabulary second– fluency is the ability to manipulate all the parts of a sentence at will. You then use these sentences to add vocabulary and improve expression. You will continue to learn vocabulary for the rest of your life, but fluency can be delivered in a matter of weeks.”

With technology so integrated into our global society and the ever-present requirement for cross-cultural understanding and language learning, language learners will only benefit from the wider array of tools available for them to advance their skills.

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