Now that we are back to school and work, we thought it was time to take a look at the newest trends in language learning, both in schools and for adults. Language training is incredibly important, and companies invest a lot of time and money to ensure that their workforce is able to communicate effectively with clients across the globe. This means investing in learning new skills and languages, especially before entering new global markets.
Blended learning is a mixture of online or digital classes with real, in-person classes as well. This is a trend that has been going on for decades, but is easier today than ever before. The model allows teachers to work with a larger number of students and take advantage of technology to interact with them during the time in between physical classes.
Something that can be incorporated into blended learning programs, is of course, new technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) allows for completely bespoke learning programs for students of all levels. AI allows various programs to get to know each user, and adapt the program to the user’s needs. Duolingo, a language learning app, is a great example of how this works. The app tracks your progress, and remembers the words or concepts that the user may struggle with.
Not only can AI adapt to a single user to personalize a language learning program, but using the aggregated data of other users, it can also ‘learn’ in order to provide the best tips or tricks you need right when you need them. While some education experts question the quality of learning from a machine – you can’t ask real questions, right? And who is checking your pronunciation? Or comprehension? However, for now, the tools still tend to be free, or cost very little, unlike some of the bigger industry software programs like Babbel or Rosetta Stone. We look forward to seeing how those companies introduce similar technologies to stay competitive with the new apps that have come out. There will probably be some big AI language unveils coming up soon! You can also read about Facebook’s new artificial intelligence technique here.
Online Learning, Both Formal and Informal
Today, only a small portion of the 1.5 billion English language learners even have access to native English-speaking teachers to meet with in person. Many people are using the internet to learn languages as they would have in school – listening to music, watching movies, reading publications, and listening to the radio. While working with a teacher is still always advisable, simply immersing yourself in the cultural resources available on the World Wide Web is an excellent strategy to informally study a language.
The other side of that coin is online language schools. While they range widely in price, availability and quality, video call technology. China’s government is a big proponent of these services, recruiting native English speakers to teach online via Skype to young students in China. We always think it’s better to meet face to face if possible, but despite English being widely spoken all over the world, English being spoken correctly is another matter. That is another phenomenon that is coming out of the availability of language learning tools being available online: the English language is mutating at an ever-increasing rate. It will remain important to study grammar and vocabulary so as not to dilute the language too much!
Meetups: the New Speed Dating
Something that has become popular in major cities all over the world recently are language meetups for adults. This is the social side of language – why do we want to learn languages anyway? To be able to communicate, and hopefully not just online or at work! Meetups are generally arranged online through a shared platform, but the objective is to have people meet face to face and actually practice the language(s) they are learning. More like a party than a language exchange, these events vary greatly depending on the mood of the group that attends. These meetups are also a great way to just meet new friends that are interested in studying languages, and might lead to business connections, dating, or even love! Normally these meetings require the consumption of a beverage, but they also have a native speaker of whatever the target language is on hand for questions or corrections.
Even though English is the main language of business these days, people are still working hard to maintain linguistic diversity, and use technology to teach languages to new learners. We look forward to seeing the cool ways technology will continue to assist and facilitate communication, and help preserve old languages, keeping them from becoming obsolete.