Online Language Learning: The Loquella Language Tool
Lots of us espouse the value of learning the local language…but this is much easier said than done. Most language teachers will agree that the best way to become proficient in a language is to take a course and then actually use that language with native speakers, ideally ones who don’t speak your own language.
Based on the language courses designed by the US Foreign Service Institute, there are language courses for Spanish, French and Chinese which you can follow on your own. All you need is an Internet connection and Adobe Flash Player 8.
I’ve done five or six Spanish lessons now – and I like it so far. I studied French in school for four years and a year each of Spanish and Italian, so while I don’t remember much, I’m not a true beginner. There’s a fair bit of repetition of dialogs, building up “utterances” in reverse (EFL teachers can confirm that’s the right direction to do it), and substitution (Juan es soltero. Nosotros?). The focus is not on memorizing phrases that tourists are likely to use, but is more general and, I think, aimed in the direction of making you an independent speaker using “your own” sentences.
Each course has a different number lessons, which vary in the time they take depending on the lesson and on your own pace. This division makes it practical to do one lesson (or in the case of the longer lessons, half of one) per day.
I’m sure my EFL teacher readers can point out all the benefits of an in-person class…personalized feedback, relatively authentic tasks where you are under a small amount of pressure to perform like in real life and so on; I think it’s common sense that an online course is not a replacement for a real one. But when an in-person course is not an option, the Loquella Language Tool is a nice free deal.