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.

To The Girl I Was Before I Moved Internationally

Dear me,

I know right now that you are probably feeling a huge range of emotions that make you both want to cry, vomit, and also giggle. You cant wait to start anew, reluctant to leave the life you already have, and hesitant to even try getting down that god forsaken language. But trust me the emotional roller coaster hasn’t even begun yet.

There are things you need to think about before you step on that plane, things that we both know you haven’t quite considered yet. You don’t want to admit it but you are really only thinking about the positives, and you need to know that despite how happy your daydreams are, reality is rarely so kind.

You haven’t considered that you will be alone. You don’t even know how much you are going to miss your friends. I mean, come on, this isn’t like moving to a different state. You  will try to chat constantly and you will wait impatiently for them to wake up, and every time you have to hang up because you need sleep, your heart is going to break a little more. You aren’t going to see your best friend and despite how much you guys swear to stay in touch, you mostly only talk through Facebook posts now. You’ll probably see some of your family at Christmas, but not all of them. Basically, prepare to be lonely. For a while.

You don’t even understand how hard a language barrier is until you’re the one trying to break through it. Everything seems so much easier when everyone you know speaks the same language you do. You think “Oh everyone says I’ll pick it up quickly, I’ll be fine!” NO. You are going to wish that you had studied a lot more, and even now I am still tripping over sentences, and forgetting words that I have been taught a hundred times. And those looks, those annoyed eye rolls and the exasperated sighs of store clerks will make you feel terrible. You chose this path; now put effort into the language.

Yes, there are going to be days when you want to just drop everything and run onto a plane that will take you back. Yes, there are going to be hard days when you feel like nothing you do is going right and moving here was a terrible, terrible mistake. You can’t do it though. You can’t fly home and take the easy route. We both know that you are coming here, taking the hard way, because you know that the benefits are worth so much more then those horrible times. Here, I’ll even give you a little sneak peek for what to expect.

You are going to be fine. You are going to a university here and you will have wonderful friends who care about you. You’ll work somewhere you love, doing what you love, and that it self is fantastic. You’ll find that new friends are easier to make now then when you were in college. Yes your brothers and sisters aren’t exactly going to be able to visit you every holiday, but you’ll soon find that family doesn’t mean you share the same blood.  Yes you do drift apart from the friends you had back home, but once you go back to visit, everyone will welcome you with open arms, because real friendship doesn’t end at the shore. What I’m basically trying to say is, take a breathe and calm down. Yes its hard to be away from the people you love, but if that love is real, then you have nothing to worry about.

So stop anxiously pacing about near your folded up clothes and your new suite case. This journey may have its downs (like seriously you will be so down, you’ll basically be underground) but those ups are so worth it, you just might touch the sky. And seriously, start studying Italian. I’m not kidding about that.

Sincerely,

Future Andrea.

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