4 reasons why Synchronous Live Online Training (SOLT™) is the most effective method for learning a new language
It is a skill and is something that you do. Rather like learning a musical instrument – you need to be really bad at it, make errors, and learn techniques for improvement. Eventually it ends up working better for you. All in all the process is messy.
Why do I want to learn a language?
Start by asking yourself this question. Given the steep learning curve that language learning presents, many people burn out while some fail before they’ve even started. Try and prevent this by seeing how the language might plug into your life. This could be obvious – you may be relocating or your partner may speak it. Whatever the reason, seeing how you can make the integration happen goes a long way to mastering the task.
Can I learn online?
Of course. When you’ve worked out why you’re learning the language, do so by building a study plan around what you want the language to do. Structure your studies around your plan – whether that means learning cookery, art history, music, bar-chat or buying meat pies; ensure your study plan fits your needs.
Adopt your tech and cultured lifestyle habits to reinforce your plan. Set your phone to the new language, watch German movies with German subtitles (if it is German you need). Read real articles written for natives and listen to people using it whenever you can.
You may want to use mp3/4 files, YouTube, social media and multimedia packages that provide pronunciation models and realistic situations.
All of these technologies and interactions are effective to a certain point, but none of them have successfully addressed the needs of language learners in a comprehensive manner. Simply interacting with materials online is never enough. It can be a waste of time and money and worst of all, you’ll learn how to use the language badly, storing up and fossilising errors as you go. When it comes to trying out your newly discovered skills, your confidence will be shot and you’ll end up giving up.
So, let me throw you a lifeline here. By all means adopt all the tech and lifestyle modalities that social media and the inter-connected world offers you. Crucially though, incorporate SYNCHRONOUS (real-time) methods to achieve your goals. You have to be able to communicate in real-time, with your trainers, your fellow learners and with your learning resource materials. Which brings me to my 4 reasons why SOLT™ is your quickest passport to second language success.
Reason 1: Live learner-teacher interaction is proven to succeed
Your teacher is an ACTIVE support, not a person on the end of an e-mail or a faceless line of text in a forum or message board. You’ll get overwhelmed with question overload and become frustrated at the time delay for feedback.
The presence of a live teacher (in real-time) will assist you with specific problems and, vitally, facilitate social interaction (I will come back to social interaction time and time again – you’ll see why!). Without this mediation or facilitation you can misconstrue key concepts, which will impact on your satisfaction and confidence. If you were always fearful of making errors at school, then the SOLT™ environment could be the perfect arena for you to mask your embarrassment.
Reason 2: Live learner-learner interaction is critical
You always learn more when you’re with others, don’t you? Collaborative learning (such as SOLT™) increases cognitive learning tasks, completion rates, and acquisition of social skills in language learning. Realistic real-time interactions between learners have the greatest potential to increase individual participation and performance. Such interactions allow for immediate feedback and meaningful measures of progress. (Park and Bonk 2007).
As I said, you need to be bad at it to begin with. Sharing your inadequacies and getting it wrong with others, in the same boat as you, can be an affirming and rewarding experience.
Reason 3: Social Interaction is absolutely vital
A communicative approach to the language learning process has long been established as fundamental to the success of language acquisition, especially among adults. Central to this approach is that language is a tool for social interaction. The sharing of authentic texts and resources provides a basis for live discussion, which focuses not only on the language but also on the language learning process itself. Critically, SOLT™ enables you to plug into the methods and modalities of your peers in real time.
Reason 4: Content doesn’t teach. People do.
Most learning management systems mainly function as platforms where digital materials are stored and where learners are only required to browse and interact with these materials by themselves. The vast majority of these do not support person-to-person interaction and are therefore predominantly asynchronous. What happens when learners are left to themselves and the content?
In short, accessing content alone diminishes cognitive activity in the brain, which is vital to language acquisition.
To conclude: Give yourself a chance in 2017
If your new year’s resolution is to get that second language under your belt and be freely and fluently speaking it sometime in 2018 then, please adopt as many asynchronous strategies as you can that fit with your objectives. Most of all though, have a go at SOLT™ with qualified teachers, in virtual classrooms where a multiple of synchronous tools are available so that you can interact socially with real people in real time. Who knows? You might make some life-long friends too!
Wishing you a happy, prosperous and productive New Year!
CEO, Tangent Training Co. Ltd
Tangent Training incorporates SOLT™ methods in all of its courses and output.
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Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication: Tools for Collaboration
This paper was authored by Byron Kask (2009) and revised by Sarah Wood (2010), and Brett Williams (2014) and I have taken extracts from it.
In addition, extracts for this article were sourced from here:
Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Wang, Y., and N. Chen. 2007. Online synchronous language learning: SLMS over the internet. Innovate 3 (3). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=337
Extracts also taken from http://www.businessinsider.com/why-its-hard-to-learn-new-language-adult-2014-7?IR=T
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