As much as we’ve come to love and appreciate what Siri can do for us, she can’t teach us a second language.
Sure, we can change the language setting on our devices and get Siri to tells us jokes in our target language, but we’ll need more than that to reach fluency.
If you’ve decided to use technology to assist in your language learning, you might be missing the social component that’s not frequently associated with e-learning.
You’ll need to find others to talk to besides Siri.
You need the immediate feedback you get when talking to a native speaker. In order to build your language-learning muscles, you’ll need opportunities to listen in “real time” and respond appropriately.
So is it possible to learn a language while remaining fully online?
You’re right to think that communicating with others is at the core of learning a language, and maybe you’re concerned about missing out on real interaction with people if you choose e-learning.
Can you take part in social interactions online that are similar to meeting people in person? You might assume that this is where e-learning gets difficult, but in reality, we’ve got you covered.
These resources will target the auditory skills you’ll need in order to distinguish the sounds of your target language and to self-monitor your own speech. (In other words, have a meaningful conversation in that language you’ve been working really hard to learn.)
Why Are Auditory Skills So Important to E-learning?
Here’s why we’re going to focus specifically on improving these skills:
- Together with reading and writing, listening and speaking are two of the tenets of language learning and they all build on one another. When you strengthen these specific skills, you’ll see an overall improvement in all the areas.
- E-learning exposes the self-motivated language learner to virtually thousands of apps and resources to improve almost any language skill. However, many e-learners are missing the social component—the back-and-forth interaction that comes with having a conversation with a native speaker that’s so critical to becoming fluent.
- Improving your auditory skills will help you with fluency and pronunciation. The social exchange provides a model of correct pronunciation and an opportunity to get immediate feedback so that errors and mistakes are quickly corrected.
- Prioritizing these specific skills will build your confidence and motivate you to continue your studies. You’ll be able to understand all those videos you’ve been watching and you’ll no longer be nervous when talking to native speakers (just in time for that trip to Italy!).
Sounds Like Fun: E-learning Languages the Auditory Way
We’ve already established that listening and speaking should be priorities when it comes to e-learning. But let’s face it, our personalities will make one resource more appealing than another.
If you’re an extrovert, you might dive into a conversation with a native speaker with little to no hesitation. However, an introvert might shy away from this type of social situation and would prefer to perfect their listening and speaking skills in other ways.
Whatever your preferred interaction, we’ve got some suggestions for you!
Listening and Speaking Resources for the Extrovert
If you’re an extrovert, it’s likely that social interactions form an important part of your life. Luckily for you, auditory learning can be combined with many online tools that can help you meet and interact with people.
Of course, all learners will eventually need to practice with native speakers to really take their auditory skills to the next level, so introverts and extroverts alike should take note of these awesome resources.
If you’re looking for immediate feedback and culturally-relevant lessons, FluentU is the right place. Extroverts and introverts alike will find this innovative platform useful.
FluentU is an online immersion platform that takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Videos are organized by difficulty (beginner to native), topic (arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, etc.) and format (video blog, news, shows, etc.)—so you can easily browse and find something perfect for your level and interests.
Every word comes with an in-context definition, image, audio and multiple example sentences for easy learning and understanding. You can even click on a word to see how it’s used in other videos across the site.
If you like to make friends and are eager to practice your language skills, HelloTalk is a great place to start. This app will connect you with native speakers and you can begin to text and chat with them immediately.
HelloTalk’s features work especially well with auditory learning. You can send and receive voice messages, have voice chats or use the app’s voice recognition system, which will help to make things easier if you’re not entirely confident speaking in your target language. You can even start video calls to make the experience even more personal.
If you’re an advanced learner looking for more focused practice, why not FaceTime with native speakers or even have in-person conversations? With Accint, you can browse through the list of native speakers of your target language, then get in touch with them and request a conversation.
Once your request is accepted, schedule a conversation and start preparing questions or specific topics you’d like to discuss.
Tandem is a language exchange app with a friendly community where you can meet and chat with native speakers. It will help you in improving your speaking and listening skills by learning words, phrases and pronunciation in a social context—helping you sound like a native in no time.
You can choose to text people, send voice messages, call them or try a video chat. Tandem has a huge, active community of users. You can easily connect with others, get to know people and learn in a fun, engaging way.
This app will teach you the conversation skills you need to feel comfortable talking to native speakers rather than boring you with impractical phrases and sentences that aren’t as handy in everyday situations.
Lessons start with a specific phrase or sentence that gets broken down and then built on as the lesson progresses. It also mixes in cultural insight so that you go much deeper than just learning basic words and phrases.
You’ll learn through culturally accurate conversations, while having the option to practice pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Along with giving you a foundation in the language you’re learning, Mango Languages will provide lots of cultural insight to prepare you for real life situations.
Double-checking and correcting mistakes is a vital part of learning a language. Since e-learning is a more independent experience than, for example, taking one-on-one lessons with a tutor or going to a physical class, it becomes especially important to look out for mistakes and correct them quickly.
While not strictly auditory, HiNative is a great tool that provides feedback, answers questions and connects you with a community of language learners. It’s powered by Lang-8, which is a social networking tool to help you correct the mistakes in your foreign language writing. And since the act of writing is producing language, you’ll see an improvement in your speaking skills.
Using Lang-8, you write journal entries in the language you’re learning and they’ll be read and corrected by native speakers. This way, you can make sure that what you’ve learned is correct, eliminate mistakes and still be actively engaged in the learning process.
In turn, you can correct other people’s entries. All this makes HiNative and Lang-8 not only great tools for learning, but also fun ways to make new friends.
Listening and Speaking Resources and Ideas to the Rescue for Introverts
Being an introvert can make having a conversation in another language a daunting experience. Though it’s essential to practice speaking to people face-to-face, there are many other ways that can help you improve until you feel confident.
Learners who thrive on learning independently, or extroverts who are looking for ways to brush up their skills while they’re alone, will appreciate these resources and ideas.
No, it’s not an app, but it is a method that you’ll find extremely useful to practice your speaking skills while you’re by yourself. Autologia is a self-learning method developed by Kató Lomb, a Hungarian interpreter and translator who learned over ten languages as an autodidact.
So, what’s autologia? Simply put, autologia is chatting to yourself. If practiced consistently, autologia can become a useful technique for both introverts and learners who have limited time on their hands to interact with native speakers.
The best part is that you don’t have to worry about feeling embarrassed, forgetting a word or making a mistake in front of others.
An important thing to keep in mind is that you should focus on improving your fluency, so while you’re talking, don’t interrupt yourself too many times to look things up. You can aim to speak for ten minutes, then check words and phrases you didn’t know or remember at the end of the session.
Repeat this process as many times as you need, and soon you’ll feel much more fluent and confident as you speak.
A useful way to complete autologia is to practice the new vocabulary that you come across. Learn how to pronounce them first by looking them up on Forvo.
Then, once you feel confident with the pronunciation, you can record yourself saying them using the My Words app to create your own audio dictionaries.
Make your vocabulary lists more fun by adding pictures, or find and download already existing lists to further improve your pronunciation. Recording yourself helps to keep the process of learning active and engaging, which in turn will make it easier to memorize and recall words in the future.
Improving your listening skills is an important part of auditory learning and tuning in to radio shows is a fun way to do it. You can browse through hundreds of radio shows on Listenlive.eu and hear anything from music, news, sport or talk show programs.
Making notes and writing out new vocabulary or example sentences is a great way to participate in auditory learning while improving your written skills. However, even just listening to programs in the background will help you to gain more confidence in understanding your target language.
If you need to improve your pronunciation, Speechance is the way to go!
This app features a speech recognition software designed for language learners, and it’ll score your speech and point out mistakes in your pronunciation.
You get the correction in real-time and the app provides feedback on stress, intonation and speech rate. Establishing a routine of double-checking what you’ve learned is an important part of e-learning, and using Speechance is a great way to make sure that you learn with the correct pronunciation.
With this app, you’ll get ahead faster whether you practice autologia or have online or in-person conversations.
Lingo Vocabulary Trainer
Do you often find yourself struggling to find the right word in the language you’re learning? Then it’s time to expand your vocabulary.
To avoid getting bored but still see a steady increase in your vocabulary, try out Lingo Vocabulary Trainer. This app features over 5000 words complete with pictures and pronunciation, a huge variety of topics to choose from and it allows you to track your progress as you learn.
If you’d rather practice talking to someone other than yourself but you’re not ready for a real conversation yet, Mondly’s chatbot can help you out.
Mondly will introduce you to simple conversations between two people, so what you learn comes from applicable real-life situations. If you opt to try out the chatbot, you can take part in the conversation yourself. Mondly’s chatbot understands millions of words and phrases, and it works through speech recognition technology.
The chatbot will answer you in a human voice, and it’ll also create visual responses that’ll make learning a unique and fun experience.
As you can see, e-learning is not about giving up on having fun or social interactions.
Whether you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert, try out these resources and ideas to make the most out of your e-learning experience.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.