Choosing the Best Method of Learning a Foreign Language

Learning a foreign language can be interesting, stimulating and fun. It can also be difficult, frustrating and boring. In order to maximize your chances of long-term success, it is important to consider which approach to language learning will provide you with the most benefits. 

Your lifestyle, educational background, current resources in terms of time and money, and your personality should all be taken into account when deciding which method of language learning to pursue.

Consider each of the three main ways of learning a language: self-study at home using books, CDs, DVDs and other learning materials; attending classes with a teacher and other students; and online courses using interactive learning materials.

Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you are unable to attend regular daytime or evening classes because of work or family commitments, self-study may suit you. However, this approach to language learning requires a high level of self-motivation and self-discipline. If you decide to learn in this way, it is a good idea to set yourself a weekly goal, so that your learning will move forward.

The main disadvantage of learning by yourself is that there is no one available to answer your questions. One way of overcoming this is to make a list of your questions as they arise and enlist the help of a native or fluent speaker of the language on a regular basis. You may even decide to have one-to-one tutoring to supplement your self-study.

Learning a foreign language in a classroom setting is probably the most popular option. The regularity of the lessons will encourage you to attend and you will be able to ask the teacher questions on the spot. In most cases, the enthusiasm of the other students may also encourage you to make progress, although sometimes you can be held back by the other students. This is especially the case if you have already learned several foreign languages and go to an adult evening class where most of the other students have little or no experience of studying a second language. In this case, you may find the pace of learning slow and frustrating.

Online learning is the newest method of learning a foreign language. It suits both the self-motivated students who prefer to learn alone and also the more gregarious students who may prefer to attend a class but who are unable to do so. The interactivity of online learning makes the whole process more interesting and fun. It is also often possible to ask questions online and to communicate with other students. Another bonus is that, in many cases, online language courses cost less than other courses and are sometimes free of charge. They do, however, have their limitations - most concentrate on the basic level, so you will have to seek an alternative method of learning once you have progressed beyond the beginners' stage.

Whichever method you choose, keep in mind the reasons why you are learning the language and the future benefits you will derive from being a fluent speaker. This will help you to stay motivated and focused throughout the learning process.