Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
"Pros and Cons" implies that people learning Japanese can choose between online learning and classroom learning as if these are somewhat equally effective ways of learning, and we can choose either one or the other. Therefore, writes Mr. Johnson, we might want to choose his online course rather than taking a class.
Online language courses are not even remotely an effective alternative for a communicative approach in a classroom, meaning learning to speak with people by actually speaking with them. This is widely recognized in the field of Second Language Acquisition, something the writer of this article seems to have little knowledge of. The first time you try to actually speak with an actual person in a foreign language about something after having only studied in an online course (or textbook for that matter) this will become painfully obvious.
There are several reasons for this. For one example, real speech is unpredictable. A person being spoken to expects to be responded to immediately, but there are infinitely many possible combinations of words and phrases that the listener needs to be able to understand and respond to. For obvious practical reasons, online or textbook courses are quite limited in the given examples for each word, grammar point, contextual situation, etc. and tend to repeat only a few such examples. Similarly, there is a huge variety of voices, accents, and speaking styles in a day's worth of normal conversation. Learning to deal with this spontaneity and variety of real, natural speech takes practice, and the sooner one starts this practice, the sooner truly useful results will be achieved. Obviously there is no real substitute for practicing with real people, who are always unpredictable to some degree, even people who themselves cannot yet speak the language perfectly. An added benefit is that the student can try uttering many things that aren't included in the limited sentences given in an online course, and receive correction by the teacher and others, thus learning quickly from mistakes as she goes.
I'm not saying people shouldn't take online courses. An online course can be a valuable supplement to classes, especially to help learn reading, but most people learn a language hoping to be able to speak to others. That's why online courses, while they may be somewhat helpful, should not be presented as an alternative to classes where one can properly learn by practicing real, face-to-face communication with a variety of other people, with correction and guidance by an experienced teacher of the language carefully monitoring the students in person.
Messages In This Thread
- Learning Japanese Online - The Pros And Cons -- Adam J Johnson
- Re: Learning Japanese Online - The Pros And Cons -- Tom