Monday, May 30, 2011

Resources for Learning a Second Language

With the importance of learning a second language so clear, the question becomes one of how to do it. Luckily, the same culture that makes the skill necessary also makes it easier than any other time in history to become fluent in a new language.
Traditional teaching: Universities, community colleges, and several private organizations offer traditional language classes. The range to choose from may depend on the size of the institution, and they will almost always charge fees for classes and materials. The need of many people to learn a second language has turned this field into a thriving industry.

Internet: More than just Web sites, there are many Web 2.0 and social media technologies that provide language lessons, audio guides to pronunciation, feedback from native speakers and fellow students, and much more. These includes videos on YouTube and other sites; podcasts; and online messaging and chat tools such as Skype which facilitate connection and contact between students and teachers. Using these resources allows students to proceed at their own pace and within their own time frame. Best of all, most of these are free.

Immersion: The most complete immersion would be to actually move to the country, but that's not always a possibility. In most large cities, however, there are cultural centers, discussion groups, and other organizations that usually welcome the curious to join them. At first, communication may be awkward and stilted. However, with persistence and attention, the sounds and meanings of a language sink in and become internalized. This method of learning a language usually stays with a person longer, the equivalent of "muscle memory" for an athlete.

Whatever method is used, it should be clear that the importance of learning a second language is only surpassed by the many resources available to do it.

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