Monday, April 28, 2008

Learning English or a Foreign Language: 6 Effective Ways to Use the Internet

There are many ways to learn a new language
There are many ways to learn a new language: you can go live in a country where the language is spoken, attend a formal language class, get a private language tutor or use books and written materials. Other ways to learn a foreign language are to listen to CDs or audiocassette tapes, watch TV, movies and video programs, memorize phrase books, use the Internet or employ a combination of all the above.

Photo: Student in a language-learning computer room at the Santiago de Cali University in Cali, Colombia

Can’t Go to Live in a Foreign Country?
But not everyone can arrange to live in a foreign country. Native speakers of the language may not be available. Written or recorded commercial materials may not be available in the language you’re interested in (Cochimi, Cibemba or Kukapa, anyone?). True, many major languages like Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and English broadcast TV programs via cable. Even Korean, Catalan, Arabic and Japanese have venues available in cosmopolitan areas worldwide; but the vast majority of the world’s thousands of spoken tongues are simply not at large outside of their local areas. So what’s a prospective polyglot to do?

Use a Search Engine
One answer of course, is the internet. Plug “foreign language courses” into an internet search engine like Google or Yahoo and more than 7 million six hundred thousand hits instantly come up. From Afrikaans to Punjabi, and Hebrew to Zulu, thousands of listings lay before you only a mouse click away. How exactly then, can the internet be used to tackle learning a foreign language?

Start off effectively by using these six ways:

1. Do an initial evaluation
The first thing you may want to know is where you are in the scheme of learning the language. An initial language skills evaluation is in order; are you a raw beginner? False beginner? Intermediate level? Higher? Let’s take English as a second or foreign language as an example.

English proficiency diagnostics tests are free online at:

General English Test with instant results
Parlo (diagnostic tests in English, Spanish, and French)
Upper Intermediate Test

If you score above 80% in this test, you should take the next one and also show your teacher or tutor a copy of the results.

2. Become familiar with language learning strategies
How do YOU learn? Knowing this can make the daunting task of foreign language learning less like study and more like play. Are you a Visual – Spatial learner who likes pictures, drawings, graphics and extensive use of color? A Musical – Rhythmic type that would benefit from having your lessons and materials set to music, rhythm or rhyme? Perhaps you’re the athletic type who’d derive more success with learning by motion, movement, mime or even dance? Playing the works of Mozart in the background while studying has been shown to enhance learning in a number of areas.

To find out more about your manner of learning visit these sites for starters:

Learning Styles Explanation

Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire

The Success Types Learning Style Indicator

3. Practice reading skills
Literacy is one of the 21st century’s most innately valuable compound skills. After all, you’re reading THIS now, aren’t you? Few would wish to be illiterate in their new foreign language so practice of reading skills is paramount. Online newspapers, magazines, newsletters and blogs can provide the needed practice and learning materials.

Check out these reading comprehension skills sites:

How to Read Your Textbook More Efficiently

Self-study reading lessons

Read the article in the following address:

In the address that follows, take the quiz to verify your understanding of the reading passage:

To Be Continued …

In part two of this multi-segmented article post, we’ll continue to examine ways of using the internet to learn English or a foreign language by means of the internet.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.


Ckrusch said...

I wanted to congratulate you for the valuable information. I believe the internet through blogs, social sites, discussion in websites made the process easier and more dinamic. Somebody can have acess to formal education and then practice sharpen their skills with native speakers or with people who are willing to share information to help them develop those skills.
I will add your valuable post to my blog:


Claudia Krusch

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

Thank you for this valuable information. I'm trying to learn Spanish for my career and have found a site that is really helping me get to that next level,!! I have been taking online language classes with a tutor via video chat and it's been awesome. In addition they have a variety of language flashcards and videos to help me practice or in a sense do homework until my next session.

I also like the fact that they have an active online community...check it out at