Language learning is no more an expensive hobby or something to really talk about. As natural human urges go, it is proven that each one of us have a likeness towards at least one unknown language that we want to learn. At times people assimilate and immerse into the culture of the language so much that they develop personality and psychological changes! Not saying it is a disorder but a borderline dissociation, may be? Just kidding!
Why do people want to learn language?
It is at times debatable as to why exactly it jumps from a want to a need. If there are external demands in terms of academic, business or emigration; that’s considerable. Most possibly it is the worshiping nature or tendencies of the human mind where they give more importance to fascination than acquired state of existence. Another crucial factor which is ever evolving- domination of the powerful. For example the way British colonial hungover conditioned the entire communication system and the modern day mainstream media, job markets, etc. Apparently, such factors effect us to believe into the whole idea that knowing or learning a language is a brighter decision.
What do the language learners wish to achieve?
“I want to sound like Tom Cruise how he speaks in Jerry McGuire,” said by a 21 year old engineering student who signed up for a 3-months course for the beginners!
“I wanna learn Spanish because I wanna watch Narcos without subtitles and speak English with a Mexican accent. I find it hot!” This is from an undergrad in her late teens.
Now this is not something unusual. Any language learner without a possible intention to use the learned language on a daily basis will have such thoughts. So when they sign up for language classes, very less percentage of learners actually wish to achieve a grammatical and syntactical success. It always has to do with these dreamy motives.
Language learning classes then become a tedious thing where they invest their time and money and in the end they are left bored once the class works shift from pronunciation drills to more profound grammatical activities. Language learning apps, however, provides the same input without the “hard work”.
Let us look at the few advantages of learning language from a mobile app:
Independence, accessible and inexpensive
With full access to the various language learning videos available on these apps, one can choose as per comfort. There are no such timings for the class that one has to follow. A lot of online course service providers like Udemy, Coursera, etc. provides inexpensive courses with pre-assigned tasks and a certificate. One can access the courses through their apps and study at convenient times without anxiety and pressure.
Visual aids and attractive support materials to associate the language with situations give it a more localized and comprehensible feel to the learning process.
All these apps come with their individual USP. Duolingo is a faster way to learn where one can learn through their simplified bite-sized lessons. Then we have Babbel, where you get a level-to-level experience and the language learning experience is modeled by linguists and educators. Rosetta Stone is another one where you have less grammar translations and gamified tasks where the process is more accuracy driven.
Alright, now let us look at the not so advantageous points:
No human interaction
Well of course! Signing up for an in-class or the webinar live online sessions allow you to talk and interact with your peers and the expert trainer. With the apps, you are only talking and listening to yourself. So the success rate cannot be determined.
Much that the learning apps are easily accessible but internet connectivity is a must. At times if the WiFi is not supporting or you do not have a good reception on your phone, it is a concern.
Lack of control
Although it is more convenient option to access the apps as per their time, a lack of routine and schedule often times are responsible for learners to become more inefficient.
Acoustics and articulation
This is a deep one but sort of very valid. The entire language course is designed to function on a system run by AI. Now when the target language is “spoken” by the app, the whole acoustics of the language and points and manners of articulation become less practical and far from the language processing dynamics adopted by the learner.
Language learning mobile apps definitely gives you a taste of what it feels like to speak in the target language but if you are a learner with a business or academic motive or you want to learn the language to move abroad, you gotta rethink!