As our lifestyle changes, technology quickly adapts to our needs. It has always been difficult to combine being a professional and student and even more so with a lifestyle full of social obligations and commitments.
We diverged from the conventional classroom to distance learning, which suits those who combine their work and studies. From there, we have progressed to e-learning, an increasingly popular choice for millions of students, especially due to advances in education technology: Moodle platforms, e-mail, and video conferencing, among others.
We are in the digital age, a reality that is strongly denoted by the growing number of students who choose e-learning. In fact, today there are more virtual campus enrollments than those for courses that take place in a traditional classroom setting. Studying with a favorite teacher, or attending a preferred school or institution is no longer an issue if you live far away. Online there is no concept of ¨distance¨; everything is just one click away.
Studying at home is no longer an isolated act of “self-study”, making your way through pages of dense textbooks. There now exists the option of effectively studying languages at home by videoconference.
A fundamental part of learning a language is practicing your ability to interact. While it is true that you need time to study and memorize grammar, without the ability to produce and respond to stimuli in a foreign language, a basic premise is overlooked: languages exist to communicate.
Starting an online course requires perseverance, determination and a strong will, but it is easier to succeed if a personal teacher is present with which you can interact by videoconference. After awhile you will forget you are separated by a screen and find yourself in your individual lesson with a Spanish teacher who oversees your learning by proposing a methodology, giving continuity to your program, and helping you turn your weaknesses into strengths.
To get the most out of your Spanish lessons by Skype, the following are some guidelines and recommendations for students:
– Read a text in Spanish before your lesson begins and then you can briefly discuss it and practice vocabulary you just read with your teacher. It will also provide a meaningful “warm-up” prior to the lesson.
– Be proactive and do not improvise. Write down your questions before the lesson begins, and do not let the lesson end without probing any lingering doubts or other topics covered in the lesson.
– Ask for homework that allows you to practice different skills: Listening, reading texts, writing exercises and, of course, grammar topics. Studying Spanish does not end with the lesson. The relationship between language, the student and the teacher is an ongoing session.
– Send in your homework before the lesson so your teacher has enough time to correct it and adapt the lesson to the topics that will benefit you most.
You will then have time to read and understand your teacher’s notes allowing you to progress your skills further.
– When it comes to technology, upgrade your computer, choose the right lighting, and find a quiet place at home, the office, or a hotel. This way your Spanish lesson will be a total immersion without interference of any kind from your surroundings.
If you want to learn Spanish and you do not have time to attend traditional lessons at an academy in your city or travel to a Spanish-speaking country, try videoconference lessons and let Spanish be an active part of your life.
This article is by María Ballesteros and Raquel Alonso , online ELE teachers. In April 2011, they founded their own online ELE school, Spanology, and a blog of online resources to learn Spanish, El Blog para Aprender Español. Since then they have been sharing their knowledge and experience with students and teachers of ELE worldwide and teaching lessons online and by videoconference. They are now collaborating with Languages-exchange.