The recent news that headteachers may have to cut the range of A-level courses on offer, while increasing the class sizes of those that remain, has got linguists all shaken up. Modern Foreign Languages departments are most likely to be hit by the cuts, which have exacerbated the already existing problem regarding the poor popularity of languages at A-level. But why should we learn languages, and why should we learn online?
Being able to communicate with others in their language is perhaps one of the most satisfying feelings that exists. Victor Borge’s statement that ‘laughter is the shortest distance between two people’ could be followed up with ‘when the joke is shared in the same language’! Speaking to someone in their language instantly shortens the distance between two strangers, and opens up new cultures and experiences to which you wouldn’t have access before. Imagine how many more people you could chat to if you spoke their language; it’s such an exciting prospect!
Learning a language online is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the language, from the comfort of your own home. For those of us who don’t have the option of moving abroad to learn French, study Spanish or speak German, the wealth of resources the internet opens up for us is vast. Taking lessons online provides regular contact time with a native speaker in a fast-paced and interactive environment. Gone are the days of learning with a tutor with whom you have nothing in common, simply because they live nearby! Watch clips, listen to the radio and read the newspapers online together with your tutor in the Squarko virtual classroom, which is designed to put the fun and vibrancy back into learning a language. After your lesson, why not continue your virtual immersion by watching a film online in the original language, listening to some foreign music or checking out the top websites abroad? These are all methods of continuing your language practice on a regular basis that the internet affords us.
So fear not, linguists and polyglots! Although traditional scholastic language learning is perhaps on the way out, language learning itself is not thanks to innovative steps taken by companies such as Squarko, who aim to re-inject excitement into language learning after years of dusty classroom textbook learning or intense grammar drills. Language lessons are not defunct, they are revitalised.