You Choose! The pros and cons of immersion and app learning

Almost everyone that I have ever known has “I want to learn a second language” on their bucket list. But often, they don’t know where to start on this lengthy and difficult path. You’ll bring it up at maybe a family gathering, and that strange relative that you hardly know always has to chime in about how immersion learning is the best way to learn any language. Yes thank you weird uncle Hank, but not all of us have the money to just up and move somewhere across an ocean. But even if you could, is it really the best way to learn a language? I mean, everyone learns differently. So this article is dedicated to you fellow internet users! If you want to learn a language but don’t know the best option for yourself, here are some pros and cons to different methods of learning a language.

There are three main categories for learning a language that I can think of. If you can think of more, just comment below and I will add them in if I have tried them before! The three that I am going to write about are Immersion learning, using apps on your phone and/or computer, and class learning.

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So the first one up is Immersion learning! For this one, we are going to be talking about immersion learning as moving to the country, and paying for classes while there. For example how I moved to Rome, Italy and went to Kappa Language School.

Pros 🙂

  • You don’t just learn the language, you learn the culture as well.
  • If you choose a school with teachers around your age, you can become friends with them after. This is handy when you can’t remember a certain word or phrase and they don’t mind a barrage of texts.
  • Because they hold you accountable, you have to practice literally ALL THE TIME just to keep up with the class. If you are lazy like me, this one can really get you to practice even when you don’t want to.

Cons 😦

  • Moving to another country is SUPER EXPENSIVE!
  • Going to a different country can be very lonely at first because you literally know not a single person, and you are cut off in a variety of ways from the people you do know.
  • Simple tasks become really challenging.
  • Embarassments, which can range from being embarrassed about not knowing what to say in a conversation because you aren’t advanced enough yet, to cultural misunderstandings where you just don’t know that things are done in a certain way and you accidently deeply insult someone.

Ok now we can move on to App learning. This includes programs that you can put on your computer or your mobile device for learning languages. I’m sure we all can name a few like Duolingo, Memrise, Livemocha, Busuu.

Pros 🙂

  • You can use them whenever you need to (at least the ones on your phone) and so you can practice at any point during your day.
  • There are quite a few to choose from, so you can do different activities when you switch apps. There are ones that are better with reading activities and others that are better at writing activities. Some others, like uTandem, are focused on language exchange.
  • Some of them have really fun games that help you learn better then just practicing with flash cards over and over again.

Cons 😦

  • There isn’t someone to ask if you don’t understand why something isn’t right or when it gets frustrating.
  • When they try to teach you ‘naturally’ they often don’t explain why something has changed and you get very confused.
  • While some are free, there are many you have to pay for to advance or to get the other lessons.

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The last one that I will talk about is learning a language by taking a class near your home, or getting together with some people who speak the language for a few nights a week.

Pros 🙂

  • This one can be a form of immersion learning if you work hard enough
  • It’s nice to be able to come back home and be able to talk in your own language and not feel like a fool 24/7 like if you moved.
  • You can have a structured learning schedule that helps you immerse yourself into the language rather then being thrown in and fumbling around trying to make out the correct tense and pronoun.

Cons 😦

  • This is a much slower way to learn unless the class is 1 on 1.
  • There is a classroom pressure to get it right that can make you anxious and forgetful
  • You don’t get the culture, you get the language
  • You can only practice at certain times

Ok there you have it folks! the pros and cons of different ways to learn a language. If you think we have forgotten one, just comment below! I find that the best way to learn a language is the combination of two of these, because the pros and cons of both can balance out the experience.

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

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