Do you think you need to take a class to learn a language?
Hello! I was wondering if any of you have taken a class to learn a foreign language, or have considered it. I think that taking classes is really helpful but it can get really expensive. Duolingo is great but I find that I can't really progress unless I do other things on the side. What do you think? What do you do apart from Duolingo to improve?
I made a vlog with more of my thoughts about it if you're interested in watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfK0D1CdzeY
A class definitely helps. Your teacher is trained to catch common mistakes that beginners make, which you won't notice yourself. You also have practice partners in a classroom; even if you're working with a private teacher you still have your tutor to practice with. Also, being in a classroom means you have homework and assignments which help you stay on task and motivated to do the work.
I wouldn't expect someone to "teach" me if they weren't a trained teacher. Native speakers know what's correct, but they don't always know why. They also make mistakes without realizing it. For example: in the area where I live it's common for folks to say "I seen him downtown" or similar. Drives me batty, but my point is a native speaker is not as good as a teacher if you want to learn correct syntax and structure.
I would, however, do a language exchange with a native speaker. There is nothing like talking to a native speaker to help your listening skills and to improve your understanding of the "personality" of a language. Just remember that because they're native they're not necessarily correct, and practice with people from different regions/countries if possible. https://www.verbling.com/community and https://www.conversationexchange.com are particularly good tools for this.
Apart from Duolingo and the two links I just mentioned, I find the following to be particularly helpful:
- listening to, translating, and learning music in my target language
- watching favorite movies with the target language track (and subtitles in the beginning)
- dedicated websites like SpanishDict (their video lessons are great), French in Action, and RFI Savoirs
- Extr@ YouTube video series for French and Spanish
- Hard copy grammar books with lots (LOTS) of written exercises
- BookBox YouTube channel for read-along children's books in many languages
- Reading a book in my target language on my Kindle with a bilingual dictionary installed
- Reading target language websites with ReadLang browser add-on
- Flashcard program like Memrise or ANKI
Also good but I don't use them as much:
- LyricsTraining website
- Free rice project website
- Facebook groups dedicated to learning the target language
- Pinterest for new ideas on language resources
HAHA, thanks for pointing out the Extra series. Didn't know it was available in French and Spanish too. Used to watch the german version.
And I didn't know they had one for German! We've both learned something :) Glad you mentioned that.
Hey, there! I am taking two languages right now (Spanish + Italian) and I am finding that a class helps extremely (I'm taking only a Spanish class) because of pronunciation and ways to remember which word goes with which, though that may just be my teacher! The cons of websites include no teaching on how to roll your R's, not knowing for sure if you pronounced it right, no insider tips, etc.
good to know! I'm also learning spanish and am highly considering taking a class if I can scrape the money together.
From my experience, you don't have to take a course, But if you really want to learn the language, you have to use other resources than just duolingo. That happens to be really easy these days with the internet. I had over 10 years of English classes at school and eventually learned more by about a year of intensive self study (mostly immersing myself in english spoken TV shows and reading a lot). Now I've been studying German for a year, all by myself, just on internet for free. And after a year I can comfortably watch a TV show and understand about 90% of words and 99% of what's going on, I can comfortably read a book and watch a german documentary without problems. All of that without any tutoring or courses.
Duolingo helped me a lot with German, it gives you decent vocabulary to go on and use it elsewhere. I still keep my tree golden and it helps me to not forget words that I don't see that often from other resources.
For many people courses/classes can have a bad effect since they make you feel you're studying but you're actually just going to the classes. For some people though it helps them to keep them going and some also prefer being able to ask the "real" teacher when they have a problem in the language. You have to know what type of learner you are. Do you prefer solving problems (search / study / ask on forums) by yourself or would it be a great helpf for you to see a teacher once or twice a week?
This is so true! I never thought about how classes might have a bad effect for some people (and I imagine that if the teacher isn't good, it would be bad for everyone). Your story is inspiring! One day, I'll learn German. I visited Berlin twice and loved it there.
I feel the secret of any language is 75% verbal and the rest reading and writing. Speech requires you to think in the language which in turn allows you to focus on the discussion. Duo is a great starter course and gives you a great introduction into the language but if you are serious in your endeavor you will need a lot more.
I think you're right. Speaking is super important. In a conversation, you have to listen and understand what the other person is saying and then respond accordingly, which takes a lot of brain power! Then you can support that with supplementary material: books, grammar exercises, films, etc...
Classes were not very helpful to me. It's probably because of my personality, I naturally tend to do things alone and a classroom setting made me uncomfortable to the point of just wanting to quit, so that's the reverse of helping lol. And for me, language learning is the one thing I can't force. I didn't always feel like studying French on Mondays at 2.30, and I didn't always feel like spending two hours just on learning the days of the week. But I can see why others find classes useful. Oh! And like the others, I also recommend you to make a tasty language salad hehe mix resources and do what comes natural but aim to advance in different areas.
that's such a good way of putting it. "A tasty language salad." Love that. I agree that it's all about experimenting and finding the right methods for you. I, for example, love watching youtube videos in French to learn.
I think that you can reach a good level in a foreign language, without taking a class, but after that I think, you should take a class, if you don't have a friend who speaks that language well enough, to practice speaking. Now I learn German and I can understand texts at level B1 pretty well, and I also understand the vitals f texts at level B2. Now I'm focusing on listening and writing, and after that, in 2018 I want to take a class, to improve my speaking.
(Edit: now I'm taking an English class, and that really helps me at speaking, cause I have to speak there with the other students.)
Because, I want to learn as more, as I can by myself, and I use other resources, and a class here, where I live costs about 72€, and if this year I take only English classes, then I'll reach a weak C1 level.
Classes, or conversation groups and clubs (check meetup) led by a fluent speaker, are helpful in using the language. I'd look for a class that focuses on conversation to supplement the grammar you get my osmosis in Duo. I don't find classes that teach grammar with lots of explanations as to why are helpful, since your mind tends to run through all those explanations when you're searching for the right form, and in the meantime the conversation has moved on. They're OK for writing and reading, but not for speaking and listening.
I agree with you, but I feel like the way my mind works (I'm pretty analytical/logical/math oriented), I like to have a good knowledge of grammar to work off of.
I like knowing the grammar also, the structure of the language, as a matter of fact, your mind instinctively looks for that when learning a new language, and those aha moments, whether you come up with them yourselves or are taught them, can really help. THEN you need to imbed the rules deeply enough that when you say it wrong, it sounds wrong and you self correct. Eventually, you won't be saying it wrong. The timed practice in Duolingo is somewhat helpful for coming up with quick instinctive responses.