Every possible approach you can try to learn a language — whether it’s app-based learning, traditional classrooms, online language classes or throw-yourself-into-the-deep-end levels of immersion — will usually be more effective when combined with elements of other methods. Learning methods don’t exist in a neat binary of good and bad, and most people’s language journeys consist of a varied diet of approaches. An app can get you far, but combining your lessons with a rich diet of podcasts, movies and practice sessions in your target language will help you cross the finish line.
If you’ve been largely going it alone but are missing out on the social component of live classes, there’s an argument to be made for adding them to your curriculum.
What Live And Online Language Classes Are Uniquely Equipped To Teach You
1. The lessons of other students who are in the same boat as you
There’s something encouraging about learning with a group of people who are prone to making similar mistakes and having the same questions as you. The social component of live classes allows you to grow with other learners, and as a result, compound your learning. As the adage says: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And that’s assuming that you’ll definitely go faster alone when you have to figure certain things out for yourself.
There’s also something to be said about the motivation boost you’ll get from other people. This won’t be equally true for everyone; some people are more internally motivated than others. But if you’re the kind of person who is more likely to stick to a commitment when you feel accountable to the people around you, live or online language classes will provide helpful inspiration.
2. Specific answers to your specific questions
Though apps and books are designed to anticipate the most common questions learners will have, they can’t address all of them. There’s value in trying to look for the answers yourself, but live classes come equipped with a supportive environment and a teacher who can answer your questions quickly and succinctly.
3. How to embrace making mistakes in a safe space
Making mistakes is a crucial part of language learning. Some would even say it’s the best way to learn. But for the vast majority of people, the prospect of messing up in front of total strangers who may or may not have the patience for your fumbles is intimidating enough to discourage them from the get-go. Language anxiety is real, and it costs a lot of students the opportunity to advance past their awkward stage. In online language classes, mistakes are encouraged and expected, and this might be enough of an ice-breaker to help you build up your confidence before you start speaking in real life.
4. How to react to dialogue you can’t fully anticipate
Though most readymade courses involve a certain amount of dialogue to help you understand how the language sounds in a conversation, the examples are sometimes intentionally boilerplate, which has the benefit of giving you several canned responses you can draw on in the early stages of learning. Real conversation is rarely by-the-book, however, and there’s no substitute for actual, person-to-person dialogue for acclimating yourself to the natural twists and turns a conversation can take. Consider it a linguistic form of agility training.
5. What you sound like to a native speaker
Even if an app has the ability to assess your pronunciation with speech recognition features, it can’t entirely replace the level of instant, personalized feedback you’d get from a language teacher. Instructors come equipped with the perspective of a native speaker, as well as the ability to correct you and tell you when you mess up a verb tense. In any other situation, you might get your point across sufficiently, but the people you’re talking to will likely let you fumble quite a bit more out of politeness.
Introducing Babbel Live
Babbel’s roots are in the learn-it-yourself app world, but we’ve always been big believers in supporting learners along every step of their journey. That’s why we’re so excited to be offering Babbel Live as a higher-tier subscription, for users who feel like they could benefit from live online language classes with world-class instructors. Plus, classes are capped at six people, so students get the benefit of personalized attention and meaningful interaction. The Babbel app is included for free with a Babbel Live membership.
Ready to give Babbel Live a shot? We’re currently offering instruction in Spanish and German.