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How do e-learning language courses work?

Would you like to learn a language but are unable to go to a training centre? If so, you might be interested to know that there are many distance language learning courses available. E-learning is one of these options. But what does e-learning in foreign language training look like? Is it right for you?

Learning a language without ever meeting the trainer – how does it work ?

Distance learning is not a new idea. Back in the 19th century, correspondence courses enabled students to acquire knowledge at home. In the late 1990s, distance learning was revolutionised by the advent of digital tools, particularly the Internet. Distance learning was slowly but surely moving towards the digital age. It was at this time that the term e-learning was coined. It simply refers to a mode of learning that takes place interactively via multimedia tools.

It was only a matter of time before this training method was applied to foreign language learning. In fact, unlike other skills, the practice of a language does not require the presence of a trainer in person. Learners can receive their course materials by email or on a dedicated platform. Generally, they also have the possibility to:

  • receive and submit exercises;
  • take quizzes, assessments and even language audits;
  • have access to language resources (articles, videos, podcasts, etc.).

However, this digitisation of language training has sometimes gone hand in hand with its “dehumanisation”. One of the limitations of e-learning is that it does not allow for live interaction with a trainer or with other learners. This is sometimes a source of demotivation.

Fortunately, this feeling of isolation is not necessarily a bad thing! As we shall see, developments in distance foreign language training have made it possible to remove such obstacles.

👉 Definition, advantages, disadvantages… Find out everything you need to know about e-learning in this article.

The different types of e-learning in foreign language training

Language training organisations specialising in distance learning know that the balance between human and digital learning is essential for the learner’s progress. This is why e-learning language teaching has evolved and has been enriched with additional features.

Blended learning

Blended learning is a learning method that allows you to learn at a distance, while still benefiting from classes with a trainer. At 1to1PROGRESS, for example, this is made possible by telephone and video-conferencing tools. Our learners can therefore take courses with a dedicated trainer, from wherever they wish and whenever they wish. This possibility allows them to free themselves from logistical constraints. In addition, they continue to train independently via the traditional e-learning tools available on their learning platform.

🔎 Read also: What is Blended Learning? Let’s decode it!

Social learning

The 1970s saw the birth of the first social cognitive theories. These theories show that knowledge and skills can be acquired not only through teaching, but also through observation and sharing experiences with peers. This is known as social learning

In order to make distance learning more human and more effective, social learning devices have therefore appeared in language training. This includes, for example:

  • group courses via videoconferencing: virtual classes;
  • setting up interactive spaces: a chat, a dedicated group on social media or a forum;
  • the organisation of group workshops: role-playing, group work, etc.

This component of e-learning is a perfect complement to individual distance learning courses and independent learning sessions. In particular, social learning allows learners to make language practice more fun and motivating.

💡 To find out more: Social Learning: definition and key challenges

To summarise, what should a good e-learning language training organisation offer?

For your e-learning foreign language training course to be successful, it must include at least two components:

  • independent learning sessions, using digital language resources (simple e-learning);
  • language lessons with a qualified trainer (blended learning).

If you cannot benefit from human interaction with a trainer, have feedback on your mistakes and practice the language in person, this will affect your progress.

Ideally, your training organisation should also be able to offer you collaborative working tools to take advantage of the challenge of communicating with other learners. This is a little extra that can have substantial benefits on your language learning.