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Online courses are increasing in popularity and attendance among college students, and foreign language e-learning courses are one of the many classes students are enrolling in. While you may find this surprising, due to advances in technology and new learning techniques, education professionals are finding that e-learning provides a great way to ensure that you too can become multilingual.

Below are 5 essential benefits of learning a foreign language through online courses

Multimedia
Technology innovation has never made learning a foreign language easier—even in an online classroom. Today, multimedia features found in e-learning environments incorporate new ways to learn, including: videos, audio, interactive grammar correction tools, automation, chat boards, telephone, instant messaging, webcams, and much more. Teachers are finding that this technology is helping students learn and stay connected. Plus, multimedia can increase students’ retention rates and correct mistakes before they turn into bad and embarrassing habits.

Repetition
Few people pick up new foreign language lessons on the first attempt; thus, repetition will help students truly master another language. However, traditional class environments don’t necessarily offer you the chance to repeat lessons on the spot without disrupting the teacher and the lesson. On the contrary, online courses do. Not to mention, they also engage students throughout the learning process. Additionally, e-learning allows students to learn at their own pace, while providing a comfortable and safe environment, as well as a solid and comprehensive education.

New Learning Methods
Online courses offer an “out with the old, in with the new” approach to learning a foreign language. Mastering a new language is not as simple as learning a new vocabulary. In fact, most often it will require a prolonged period of study, patience, and time. The good news is that many online courses offer a variety of lesson plans and multimedia tools to address reading, writing, listening, and speaking a new language. In this environment, a teacher is still present to foster growth and understanding of the language being taught, but a number of other tools and resources will help students learn and grow.

Accessibility
Because they run on computer programs, you can access online foreign language courses at any time. This means that you can brush up on your Spanish during your lunch break, learn French before your morning jog, or practice German late at night without the constraints of a rigorous schedule. Online courses also offer on-the-go mobile solutions, enabling you to complete coursework from anywhere, as your individual schedule permits, without having to travel.

Autonomy
Online language courses will help you learn a new language on your own. However, this could cause problems for students that aren’t as autonomous. If you aren’t great at self-motivating, this could be an interesting way to challenge yourself and to grow. But the onus will be on you to plan, prepare, understand the technology, and be an active learner in a virtual classroom environment.

If you are interested in becoming bilingual? While this may be a huge fiat, e-learning makes it possible. Take to heart the benefits you’ll reap through online courses and take advantage of this opportunity.

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Online tutoring has never been so simple with technology creating new opportunities to learn. Here are some of the most important ways technology and the internet make learning online the new method of choice for some students.

1. Elimination of travel time for both parties. Rush hour commutes can be truly horrible! You also save on transport costs. Finally it is also more environmentally friendly and sustainable, especially if you’re relying on cars.

2. Elimination of geographical constraints – tutors and students can find each other from anywhere in the world. This means students can be matched with the best tutors suited to their needs without being limited by the area in which they live in.

3. Lessons can be done from any global location and at more flexible/awkward times (e.g. later at night). All you need is a device such as a computer or tablet and an internet connection – something almost everyone in the Western world has nowadays. For tutors, this opens up a larger potential client base across all hours of the day.

4. No risk of catching/transmitting illnesses such as colds and flu.

5. Efficient sending of links to diagrams, articles, notes, case studies, etc. (this is especially useful with Geography).

6. Easy use of online resources such as Google Maps or Google Earth, statistical websites or images and videos to help learning (again, especially useful with Geography). More interactivity is possible in an online lesson.

7. Use of online whiteboards and screen sharing can be a very effective teaching and learning tool to, for example, help explain concepts – classic examples of how online technology can aid the learning environment.

8. A private learning environment, without the potential awkwardness of a face to face meeting (especially the first meeting can be a little awkward). Going into someone else’s private home can be a little exposing and awkward.

9. No social pressure as there is no one sitting physically watching everything students do in real time.

10. Students are more in the driving seat with online lessons and so feel more empowered in a really relaxed environment.

11. Students nowadays are used to an online world and all the technology associated with online lessons and are therefore able to learn well this way.

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Nowadays, e-learning has gained popularity and there is a high demand for teachers willing to work from the comfort of their homes.

Why Teach a Language Online?

While more and more language and ESL teachers are becoming open to the use of technology in the classroom, teaching online is a major step. For teachers who are used to the traditional way of teaching, they could be reluctant to take on this kind of setup. Nonetheless, language teachers are shifting to digital education or online tutoring, mostly because of the notable benefits.

Flexibility
Provided you have a computer and a reliable Internet connection, you can work anywhere and still be able to teach your lessons. Online language teaching offers flexible teaching hours, which is particularly convenient when you don’t have a full-time teaching job or if you’re a stay at home mother. Flexibility in location and time can even offer diverse and enriching experiences as you meet students from different cultures and walks of life.

New Teaching Methods
Teachers can try a variety of Internet-based teaching strategies, making it possible to plan more engaging and diverse lessons. News reports, interactive quizzes, videos and music can all be used in an online classroom setting. This teaching model also enables language teachers to plan more individualized lessons and integrate new learning activities that cannot be applied in traditional courses. Through the use of computers, learning a language can be a more personalized process where students can work with materials that are relevant to their individual needs and goals. Teachers may construct lessons with the help of online sources like news websites, online magazines/blogs, videos, and photography. If a student has a specific goal in mind, teachers can create custom activities with the help of these online sources.

In addition, the Internet allows teachers and students to easily share information with each other since resources are easier to access in digital format. With online education, both teachers and students can use search engines, social networking tools, digital libraries, and word/PDF files to facilitate the language learning process.

Documenting the Teaching Process
When teaching a language online a number of tools are readily available to help teachers organize themselves. A teacher can record their lessons on mp3 formats, grading and attendance can be recorded on excel files, and lesson plans can be saved and organized directly into one’s computer. With the use of Skype and other videoconferencing platforms, conversations and notes, which were submitted through chat, can easily be saved and even copied and sent to students for later reference.

Student Engagement
In an online lesson, students who hardly participate in class are more likely to take part in the activities they are given. Students become more interested and involved in the classroom activities since the material is personalized. Online language teaching offers diverse options and flexibility so that students and teachers can get the most out of a lesson.

Extra Perks
Updates on class hours/availability, homework assignments, due date reminders, and a number of other things can be easily shared and communicated with the help of the internet. Both students and teachers can also save time on commuting to class since the lesson can be taken anywhere with an internet connection. The common occurrence of arriving late to class or being help up in traffic can all be avoided when the classroom is 100% virtual. If you are a teacher, finding and choosing your own private students, working on your own terms, and charging your own prices are also some other extra benefits of becoming an online teacher.

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In the past few decades our world has become more interdependent and new technologies have allowed us to work in close contact with people all over the world. As relationships with countries grow, so does the need to speak a foreign language.

We have an enhanced need for an enlightened citizenship that is both culturally and linguistically prepared to function in today’s world.

Twenty-three Reasons to Study Foreign Languages

(1) Foreign language study creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different.
(2) Studying a foreign language will improve your chances of getting a job.
(3) Studying a new culture helps you meet new and interesting people.
(4) Dealing with another culture enables people to gain a more profound understanding of their own culture.
(5) The study of foreign languages boots confidence.
(6) Graduates often cite foreign language courses as some of the most valuable courses in college because of the communication skills developed in the process.
(7) International travel is made easier and more pleasant through knowing a foreign language.
Skills like problem solving, dealing with abstract concepts, are increased when you study a foreign language.
(8) Foreign language study enhances one’s opportunities in government, business, medicine, law, technology, military, industry, marketing, etc.
(9) A second language improves your skills and grades in math and English and on the SAT and GRE.
Analytical skills improve when students study a foreign language.
(10) Foreign languages provide a competitive edge in career choices: one is able to communicate in a second language.
(11) Foreign language study enhances listening skills and memory.
(12) One participates more effectively and responsibly in a multi-cultural world if one knows another language.
(13) Your marketable skills in the global economy are improved if you master another language.
(14) Foreign language study offers a sense of the past: culturally and linguistically.
(15) The study of a foreign tongue improves the knowledge of one’s own language: English vocabulary skills increase.
(16) The study of foreign languages teaches and encourages respect for other peoples: it fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature.
(17) Foreign languages expand one’s view of the world, liberalize one’s experiences, and make one more flexible and tolerant.
(18) Foreign languages expand one’s world view and limit the barriers between people: barriers cause distrust and fear.
(19) Foreign language study will completely chance your traveling experience.
(20) As immigration increases we need to prepare for changes in the American society.
(21) One is at a distinct advantage in the global market if one is as bilingual as possible.
(22) Foreign languages open the door to art, music, dance, fashion, cuisine, film, philosophy, science…
(23) Foreign language study is simply part of a very basic liberal education: to “educate” is to lead out, to lead out of confinement and narrowness and darkness.

* Credit to Auburn University for compilation of reasons

Brother and sister e-learning at home

Many researchers have studied the brain of bilingual children and the impact of bilingualism and multilingualism in promoting cognitive development. It has been found that the brain of bilingual and multilingual children works differently than the brain of monolingual children, and these differences provide several advantages to children that speak more than one language.

 

Here are some advantages of learning a second or foreign language:

Brother and sister e-learning at home

1. Boosts brain power

Some of the cognitive advantages of learning a second language may have to do with the fact that the brain of bilingual and multilingual children develops more densely, as found by researchers analyzing the brain densities of bilingual people. In a study conducted using brain imaging, Andrea Mechelli of London’s Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience and her colleagues (which included experts from the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome) found that bilingual speakers had denser gray matter compared to monolingual study participants.

2. Better problem-solving and other cognitive abilities

Children that speak more than one language learn to negotiate meaning as a crucial part of communicating in more than one language system. This also helps them with problem-solving tasks, and gives children the ability to seek different approaches to solve a problem. Research shows that there is a relation between bilingualism and several abilities, including the ability to thing abstractly about language and think nonverbally.

3. Children develop an “ear” for languages

Exposing children to a foreign or second language at an early age helps them develop an “ear” for the language and achieve better pronunciation and fluency later in life. This is due to the fact that, when learning a foreign language, children must distinguish meaning from very discrete sounds. According to some studies, children who learn a second or foreign language before teenage years are more likely to achieve native-like pronunciation.

4. Higher academic achievement and test scores

Studies have shown that learning a foreign language early in life improves cognitive abilities and influences achievement in other areas, resulting in higher test scores in reading and math. Studies have found that students that speak more than one language score higher on standardized college admission exams than monolingual students. According to Kathleen Marcos, “the College Entrance Examination Board reported that students who had averaged four or more years of foreign language study scored higher on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than those who had studied four or more years of any other subject (Marcos, 1998).

5. Gives students a head start in language requirements for college

Are you one of those people who studied Spanish or French for 4 years during high school but can’t seem to be able to ask for basic directions, let alone have a meaningful conversation in the language after such a long time devoted to learning another language? If you are, you are not alone. Children that learn a language at an early age have a huge head start both cognitively and linguistically, and it will help them “breeze” through foreign language classes in high school and college, giving them a chance of truly becoming bilingual.

6. Increased Empathy

A study from the University of Chicago found that children that speak more than one language are better at “putting themselves in other people’s shoes” and understanding different perspectives. To speak another language requires not only language skills, but also the ability to understand the other speaker’s perspective.

7. Increased children’s understanding of his or her native language

Many studies suggest that second language study helps enhance English language skills. Learning another language helps students learn about how language works in general and become more aware of their own first language (grammar, conjugations, sentence structures, etc.) Studies have found that bilingual children understand better than monolingual students the visual representation of print materials. According to Kathleen Marcos, “Numerous other studies have also shown a positive relationship between foreign language study and English language arts achievement.”

8. Better understanding of other cultures and connecting with people that speak other languages

Bilingualism allows for cross-cultural communication. Children who speak more than one language have the opportunity to become more culturally aware and have the ability to better understand and appreciate cultural differences, which helps them be more open to different ways of thinking and allows them to experience the world with “new eyes”. Bilingual children have the opportunity to connect with people that speak other languages and have access to more resources from other countries.

9. Better career opportunities

In today’s global world, the ability to communicate in more than one language is increasingly becoming an essential skill. When applying for a job, bilingual candidates have an edge to differentiate themselves from other candidates, and are able to showcase themselves as a valuable potential employees bringing skills that may be invaluable for employers. As James Doherty with WinterWyman Contract Staffing puts it: “If you are in a pool with 10 other corporate recruiters and your collective skills are similar, knowing a foreign language can be the unique talent that gets you that coveted first interview.”

10. Makes the world a better place for our children

In our increasingly diverse society, people from different countries and cultures must develop tools to communicate effectively with each other. As put by Kathleen Marcos, “Society as a whole also profits economically, politically, and socially when its citizens can communicate with and appreciate people from other countries and cultures.” A world in which different cultures and languages are valued and appreciated, with open, aware and empathetic people, is a better world for our children.