Who should study language online?

Language Online courses share certain characteristics with many online or distance-delivered courses, and as a result may not be appropriate for all students. Here are a couple of thoughts on what you might need to succeed.

You should be a self -starter. In spite of our best efforts to furnish opportunies for communication in these courses, you will have substantially reduced human contact during your studies. You will need self-discipline to complete the course modules on time and successfully. There are continuous self-check exercises, but you need to be able to recognize when you have (or have not) studied and practiced sufficiently. Seek out as many opportunities as you can to practice on your own, whether it be by watching movies, going to language tables or conversing with native-speaker friends or other students of the language. There are required weekly activities, including a class meeting, a 20-minute meeting with a peer tutor or the instructor, and an evening chat session, but the essential component is your own motivation.

You must also be comfortable with technology. If you essentially dislike computers, you should not take this course. In spite of the fact that there is training in the course for all the technologies used, you need to be comfortable with common technologies coming in (word-processing, e-mail, browsers) and be open to learning others.

Most of all, you must have a real desire to learn the language. Acquiring a language and familiarity with another culture can change your life, but it takes a willingness to pass through a difficult period when you are awkward, when your ideas don't come across, when native speakers of the language may think you aren't very bright. These courses should not be mistaken for an easy way to pick up language credit. They are undoubtedly more difficult than a standard classroom course, but with dedication by the student, can lead to the attainment of similar goals.

For further information, contact: cjones@andrew.cmu.edu

Language Online

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