Can you learn a new language with an app? It's a question that comes up more and more often, as language learning apps become increasingly popular. You only have to open your app store on your smartphone and enter 'language' and you already get a slew of examples. Duolingo, Babbel, Drops, ...
But are these apps as effective for learning a new language?
Can you effectively learn a new language with such an app?
To these questions, researcher Fernando Rosell-Aguila was keen to find answers. His research shows that learning through apps is an interesting way to do grammar exercises and brush up on vocabulary. Unfortunately, the apps give only limited feedback on the exercises: your answer is correct or it is not. So, as a learner, you don't know why your answer is wrong. And let that be an important aspect of the learning process...
"While this is helpful, this is not the sort of feedback language teachers advocate, as it does not give an explanation of why the answer is right or wrong."
Yet most app learners find this limited feedback good to very good. And 82% of learners are satisfied and very satisfied with the progress made thanks to the app.
The power of the app
So where is the power of an app or e-learning for the learner? In the safe learning environment! As a learner, you can make mistakes in the app without being judged for them. Only you know which mistakes you make. Do you have a fear of failure? Or are you afraid to use the language? Then a safe learning environment in such an app is the ideal solution for you!
Au revoir, language trainer?
Should language trainers now feel threatened by apps and e-learning? We certainly don't think so. On the contrary, trainers should encourage their learners to use apps. Leave repetitive exercises on grammar and vocabulary to apps and e-learning. That way, your language trainer will focus on other aspects during the contact moments: interaction and conversation. That's why you learn a language, right?
Our conclusion? Which, as always, is best of both worlds. Combine online learning in an app or an e-learning environment with language lessons with a trainer. And go for the ultimate learning experience!
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