Anyone ever try to learn a new language online?

I want to learn German.

I had planned on taking a class at the local community college this summer, but found out that it’s only offered in an online format. I’ve taken another class online (but not a foreign language), and hated it because, except for e-mails and a discussion forum, there was little or no contact with other students, or between students and the instructor. I’ve tried e-mailing the instructor to get some details about the format of the class to see if they will try to do something to overcome this obstacle, but haven’t heard anything back yet.

On the positive side, my son will be home from college for the summer, and he’s decently fluent in the language. If I do take it online, I’ll have him here to correct my pronunciation, answer questions, etc.

So - what are your experiences? Ever tried learning a language in this way? Ever taken a traditional class in a foreign language, too? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on how well this might work out, or how much it stunk, in your opinion.

I’ve been listening to the Pimmsleur tapes in German, and I suspect that an online class would have some benefits over that, but also share some disadvantages. The main disadvantage is, as you note, you need someone to correct your pronunciation and to practice with. If the online class has some kind of lab, however, that may help.

The other disadvantage to the Pimmsleur tapes is that they are very light on theory – it’s all practice. That means I’ve got a fair bit of language under my belt in a short period of time, but it’s hard to figure out language structure.

Anyway, I’d say go for it, particularly since you’ll have your son home to talk to.

If you want the grammar, then you can generally get a small grammar book for around $10 that will tell you the basics of the grammar. Not that you’d want to learn a language out of such a book, but it’s going to be useful to help you to see patterns (e.g., in German, whether you put the verb at the beginning, middle or end of the sentence :slight_smile: )

cafe mocha has a fairly nice setup where they pair-up students with native speakers who are learning your language. They have exercises with audio recording where native speakers can listen to and correct your pronunciation (and you reciprocally listen to and correct their english). They also have live text and audio/video chat so that you can practice.

It’s a free service.

The drawbacks are that the actual lessons in grammar are not very good (so I would use a supplemental source for actually learning the grammar and use CM as a conversation resource). The other drawback is that they tend to draw “russian bride” types who are really just looking for rich americans to fund them. If you ignore that however, it is a pretty good resource.

I imagine any beginning German book would help. You could learn the words and basics and when you get an in person instruction you can learn correct pronunciation. I took German in high school and it’s nice and structured for the most part. The only annoying this is gender but that is just because I speak English and for the most part English doesn’t use gender.

I remember following the “Adventures of Alois” in German…20 years later I still remember “Alois wohnt in Ostfriesland” which is a good thing if after 20 years ALois forgets where he lives :slight_smile:

Mark Twain has some advice for you.


Thanks - I think.:D:eek:

I cannot imagine learning a foreign language without actual conversation. I am very poor at languages, so maybe it is possible for some people. A father of a friend of mine taught himself Russian in 6 weeks from a book, but he was a professional linguist and could already speak 30 or 40 languages.