If you've ever considered learning a language online, you probably have a lot of questions running through your head:
Is learning a language online just something that happened because of the times we live in, or does it actually work?
How can you learn a language from home where you have no one to talk to in that language?
Can you seriously learn a language while sitting at home in your sweatpants?
Fantastic questions, you critical thinker, you!
The Internet is a wonderful tool for learning anything, but like all tools, you have to know how to use them properly to make them work well. Think of it as a hammer: It’s incredibly useful, but if you’re not using it right, you could end up smashing your fingers.
In language learning, as in other areas of life, sticking to certain fundamental principles will help you avoid unpleasantness and regret. Here, I’m gonna give you three simple rules to follow in order to get the maximum benefit from your language learning online.
1. Be smart with your options
When looking for language learning options, as with anything else, Google is like a humongous virtual candy store. Once you hit “enter” on that search bar, you’ll be taken inside a massive store that houses all kinds of goodies and treats that will spoil and overwhelm you! You have gummy candies, mints, chocolates, and even vegan and sugar-free candy. Where do you even start??
You wanna learn a new language online? You have a choice between videos, e-books, apps, online courses, and others. OR any combination of those… Take a deep breath and pause. Don’t get overwhelmed.
You don’t have to use all these options to learn Norwegian, because here’s the thing: not all language learning materials are created equal. You get to pick and choose. Filter the materials and use only those that are right for you.
Here are some tips for choosing your material:
Choose material that suits your particular level. If you’re an absolute beginner, you’ll lose steam and motivation when you start off with intermediate-level material. Then you’ll be thinking, “Maybe Norwegian just isn’t for me.”
Choose material that engages your target skill. Do you want to speak, read or write your target language? If you’re only interested in learning vocabulary words, then an app is a great option. If you want to work on all four key skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening, then an online course is probably your best bet.
Read reviews. When researching products or courses, read reviews. Plenty of people have used these materials before you. Let their experience guide you. Focus on what people say and not just the stars they give. Read about both the positive and negative aspects of the product. This way, you can better gauge if the material is suitable for you.
2. Be smart with your time
In this age of perpetual distractions, you need to make time solely dedicated to learning a language. One key to learning a language is consistency with the time you dedicate to just learning the language. Make a plan for yourself and commit a regular block of time to learning Norwegian online.
Do you notice that you’re using the same gadget (phone, tablet or computer) for learning Norwegian as you do for other things like chatting with friends, researching homework, laughing at memes, or trying not to stalk your ex? These things take precious time away from learning Norwegian. Solution? Instead of letting these other activities distract you, integrate learning Norwegian into your daily routine.
Here are some ways to do it:
Change the language settings of your phone to your target language. Do the same with your Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. It will seem awkward at first, but you will soon have the complete Facebook experience in Norwegian.
Watch videos/TV shows/movies that both interest you and are in Norwegian. You’ll start becoming attuned to the rhythm of the Norwegian language.
Follow the Instagram accounts of people speaking Norwegian and read the comments on their posts. You’ll get to see how native speakers converse in their language.
3. Be smart with your network
Some people think that online learning is lonely, that it’s just you in your pajamas in your room, repeating words to yourself. Nei!
You do have a language learning network! You just need to know where to find it!
One of the best things about online learning is that you suddenly realize you are not alone. There are tens of thousands of people out there who have the same goals as you.
You’ll also realize that there are tons of people who want you to succeed in your endeavor—native speakers who’ll patiently write long answers to your questions about their language and their culture.
Here are some places to find your language tribe:
Lenoo has a free online language café every Friday. Join us on Zoom and practice your Norwegian chops with other students at your level.
Busuu is considered the largest social networking site for language learners. It’s one of the best places to hunt for native speakers, especially for rare languages.
Duolingo is a social force in online learning. Go to its forum and ask away. You’re bound to land friendships with like-minded souls there.