Whether it's the exotic appeal of seemingly alien words or the curiosity to explore a foreign culture, the idea of learning a foreign language has always attracted people. Unfortunately though, not everyone has the spare time or the money to invest in regular classes and course material. If you happen to fall in this category, do not despair, since there are a number of online resources that can help you master the written and verbal aspects of a foreign language. Read on to know how to learn a language online.
Start with the Basics
When it comes to learning a new language, people usually start from scratch. Sure, you know words like "Hola" and "Merci," but if you are hoping to learn a language comprehensively, you must start at the basics, i.e. alphabet and grammar. A basic Google search will reveal these details for any language. While reading the alphabet, make sure that the site provides an audio option. It's important to focus on the pronunciation right from the very beginning. The grammar part will be trickier. In the initial stages, just understand the fundamental rules and you can use other resources (mentioned below) to polish your grammar.
Use Innovative Learning Aids
Who said learning a language has to be boring? By using innovative learning aids like verb charts and picture flashcards, you can make the learning process more enjoyable and productive. For instance, you will find several visual flashcards with an image of the object in question. Instead of just reading that a book is called a "libro" in Spanish, you will actually see an image of a book along with an auditory output. This way, it will be imprinted on your mind forever. Similarly, a number of learning aids are available for ESL students who are trying to learn English as a second language. Additionally, there are several interactive software programs, like Rosetta Stone, which explain the workings of grammar rules in detail. For a more holistic approach, you can also choose MOOCs or Massively Open Online Courses, which is really a fancy term for a virtual online classroom. This will give you a chance to discuss your problems and interact with fellow students. Alternatively, you can also look for videos on YouTube; it's always better to learn grammar through live media rather than books.
Maintain an Online Journal
Once you have a fair sense of the general grammar rules and the vocabulary of a language, it's time to start writing. It's always a good idea to start with relatively easy stuff. For instance, take an image and try to describe it in simple sentences using different tenses. After a few days, start writing a journal which details the daily occurrences of your life. Now, how exactly will you get these evaluated? There are sites like Livemocha.com which will pair you with a native speaker of the language you are learning. You and your language partner can exchange notes, image descriptions, and journals and evaluate each other's performance. This is a wonderful way of learning a language as you can ask questions and clear your all your doubts.
Get Talking in the New Language
Mastery of a language is incomplete without developing proper verbal skills. When you are writing, you have time to contemplate, refer to a dictionary, and formulate proper sentences. However, you should consider yourself well-versed in a language only when you can speak it fluently. Once again, look for a language partner through sites like Livemocha.com and start speaking through services like Skype. Chances are that you will be hesitant and make numerous mistakes initially, but that's just the way you learn. It might make you feel better when your language partner is just as nervous speaking your native language. Begin by forming rudimentary sentences, correct each other's mistakes, practice regularly, and never give up.
Watch Movies, Read Books, Listen to Songs
For starters, read daily newspapers online. Since they are written in fairly simple journalistic language, you should be able to understand them pretty well. Gradually, switch to more sophisticated narrative styles, as found in magazines or novels or short stories. Keep an online dictionary handy while reading these things, you will need it quite often in the initial stages. So, you have understood the theoretical part and you can write meaningful sentences, yet, when you listen to a song, it sounds like gibberish. That can happen due to the strong foreign accent. Once again, apply yourself with patience. In the beginning, watch movies with subtitles, pausing them frequently to make sense of dialogues. Similarly, look for song lyrics and try to translate them on your own. Soon enough, with regular practice, you will get not just the words, but also the accent.