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July 2019

Learning Faster with Technology in 2019

How to make the most of technology

We all know how technology can be a real boon for the language student. With apps like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Anki, language learning is more affordable and approachable than ever. But even using these apps can sometimes feel like work; studying is studying, after all, and we’d usually prefer to be doing something else.

Thankfully, technology can still help us out beyond the apps. The real trick is involving language learning into our everyday activities, especially entertainment. With technology, we can learn while doing the things we love to do.

Reading comprehension

One of the most frustrating parts of reading foreign text is the need to constantly look up words. It can be tiresome switching from your text to a dictionary. Even dual language books can be annoying because they often don’t translate words directly but rather contextually. With our mobile devices, reading becomes much easier.

Many devices offer translation capabilities for foreign words. All you have to do is download the foreign dictionary on your phone. Whether you’re reading via an app or on your mobile browser, you’ll be able to highlight an unknown word and get its definition in your native language. This saves you the trouble of looking the word up in a separate book. You wouldn’t even have to look away from the screen.

A good tip would be to also include, if possible, the definition of the word in your target language. For example, if you are a German speaker learning English, you could download not only the English-to-German dictionary but also the English-to-English dictionary. This will allow you to get the definition of foreign words in that same language, thereby offering more chances to learn additional words.

Listening comprehension

Podcasts are great for developing listening comprehension, however they lack the visual aspect that’s necessary for face-to-face communication. This would require studying conversations between people on screen. With video streaming services, this is now a possibility.

Services such as Netflix offer a wide variety of entertaining videos that include not only subtitles in multiple languages, but also dubbing in multiple languages. For example, if you’re watching a Spanish film, you could turn on subtitles for English. Or, if you feel like watching an American film, you could turn the dubbing to English and read along in Spanish. For videos that allow this, the combinations can be set to your learning preferences. And since many services offer mobile versions as well, you can take it all on the road.

Writing and speaking comprehension

Writing and speaking, both our primary forms for expressing ourselves, are also skills we need to practise. The best way to do this without using a study app would be to make friends who speak your target language natively. You could write to them and send audio messages to them as you would any friend, negating any feelings of study. Over time, you’d be surprised to find out how much more effortlessly you can access the language. This is perhaps one of the best ways to learn a language without meeting face to face or visiting the country of your target language.

Whatever methods you employ, you’ll want to make note of the new words and phrases that you learn, so you don’t forget them. Learning is about improving and growing, and it’s important that what is learned isn’t forgotten. Flashcard apps like Anki are great for noting and revisiting past information, but Google Docs or a simple notebook could work well too. Pick the format that complements best your lifestyle, a format you’re most likely to revisit.

How do you use technology for language study? Let us know on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on language learning tips and tricks!