We have been talking for some time about the importance of language learning, and the possibilities that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer to achieve it.
But the current closure of schools and educational centres has meant an important increase in the number of students who use these technologies for the acquisition of language knowledge, prompting us to review what has already been said about the learning of second languages through ICT in the light of the new initiatives that have emerged in this regard, from a more home-based and self-managed perspective than at school.
Benefits of face-to-face or distance language learning
Beyond all that refers to the academic and curricular performance of school-age children and young people, language learning has numerous pedagogical benefits that range
The inevitably linguistic to the cognitive, and which we explain briefly below:
- Depending on the age, it considerably increases the verbal and linguistic abilities and intelligences of those who carry it out, especially in children whose brain elasticity and knowledge absorption capacity is much greater than that of young people and adults.
- It involves a set of improvements in cognitive development, such as the ability to solve problems, critical thinking or memory exercise, among others.
- Tangentially, language learning is considered to generate greater respect for other cultures, linking knowledge about a language with the ability to understand people in other countries and their realities.
- And, finally, the academic improvement that language learning implies for those who undertake it, through the cognitive development mentioned above, is also a not insignificant incentive, despite its limitation to the essentially school (and formal) field.
Type of learning and which we summarise here:
- Due to its capacity to generate virtual communities, through Social Networks (RRSS) and knowledge sharing banks, language learning through the Internet is also capable of generating dynamics with cooperation and collaboration among users as a fundamental basis.
- Taking advantage of the blended learning modality offered by ICT, distance language learning can combine elements of self-training with a certain degree of supervision by teaching staff or distance courses, or guided by tutorials. This makes it possible to strike a balance between both ways of approaching a training process, in this case, a language one.
- As it is well known, besides being a very powerful communicative tool, the Net is a vast source of information in many languages that can be adapted to any language training, either by practicing listening with podcasts and/or songs or by reading news or articles in the language that one wishes to learn.
Recommended methods for distance language learning
But how can this learning be put into practice? Although there are as many ways as there are platforms to achieve this, we recommend that you make your selection from a complementary perspective, capable of covering all.
Aspects of a language training from its following aspects:
Listening: the phonetic and spoken assimilation of a language can be improved by watching films or series, listening to songs and podcasts or even reading aloud articles in the language to be learned. However, in the absence of this language base, we recommend the use of platforms such as Speakly or, for the younger ones thanks to its commitment to gamification, Duolingo.
Orality: the implementation takes on special importance when it comes to the development of the speech of a language, with the implementation of memoristic, creative and expressive resources of the speaker involved. This is an area that can be avoided with ICT through video or telephone calls, and through applications for social interaction with language purposes such as Tandem or Babbel.
Writing: as has been said on more than one occasion, one of the best methods for learning to write correctly is through reading. However, when we are dealing with a language that is initially foreign to us, or that we are still learning, the question is what level of reading we can assume without losing the thread or, directly, giving up on our task because it is too complicated or even incomprehensible.
In this regard, we will not recommend so much a particular application or platform as to opt, from the outset, for reading books or topics that you find interesting and, if it is the press, through official media that have passed a spelling check to avoid learning based on errors that once settled may be difficult to correct.
But, in any case and to finish, allow us to insist on the necessity to approach each one of these fields of the idiomatic learning from the complementarity, guaranteeing you a complete formation in second or third languages.