Is technology making language learning easier or harder?

by Andrea Byaruhanga
December 10, 2020

For better or worse, technology affects almost everything we do – and these days, that includes learning languages.

While technology can be helpful in countless ways, it can also stall your language progress if you use it incorrectly. It’s not perfect, after all! So, which is it? Should we be using technology to learn languages, or not? 

Decide for yourself! Read on as we discuss how technology can make language learning easier . . . and harder. 

How technology makes language learning easier 

Let’s start with the ways technology helps with learning languages – especially when it comes to online learning.

You have access to endless resources

Whether you’re learning through an app or on a language website (or even in a classroom), technology can enhance your practise. How? With all the online materials available! You can find all the materials you could ever want to enhance your practise – from grammar and vocabulary websites to real-life content like YouTube videos and blogs. That’s a lot better than using just one old, boring course textbook, don’t you think?

It’s more fun and motivating

A huge part of technology in language learning is its ability to keep things interesting and enjoyable, which definitely makes learning easier. Self-led quizzes and interactive review games, for example, help boost your practise in a way that traditional books can’t. 

You can also usually track your progress in an online course or app as often as you want with the click of a button. Monitoring your course progress regularly helps motivate you as you see yourself getting closer to completion. 

Learn a language online and boost your career

It’s more flexible

Using technology to learn a language offers helpful flexibility. You can choose to learn whenever it’s best for you: when you have free time or the most energy, for example. That also means you can learn at your own pace. Whether you choose to take it fast or slow, many e-learning platforms and apps let you learn at the speed you want. 

How technology makes language learning harder

If you’re using the wrong tools (or just using them in the wrong way), technology may actually make it harder for you to learn a language. Here are some challenges that come with using technology.

It can make you lazy

If you’re not really motivated to make the effort to learn a language properly, technology won’t help you. Because it’s so easy to use online translators, you might be tempted to translate everything, to get to an answer as quickly and conveniently as possible. Here’s the problem: To truly make a language concept stick in your brain, you need to take the time to learn it, think about it and try to produce it on your own. Using a translator will give you instant answers, but you won’t actually learn. 

It might not have a human connection

Depending on the tools you’re using, you might find that language learning with technology is harder because there’s no human contact. Using an app to learn common phrases can be interesting and even effective, but if there’s no face-to-face interaction, you won’t have a chance to practise real communication, including improving your intonation and pronunciation. 

You might get distracted

Learning a language with technology often means that you’re responsible for yourself. Unless you’re in a classroom setting, chances are that you’ll have to figure out a way to be disciplined and stay on track. If that’s not one of your strengths, this can be a challenge. With no one checking to make sure you’re doing the work, it’s easy to get distracted – with online shopping, chatting with friends, cooking, doing laundry, etc. – and fall behind. Constantly giving in to distractions and putting your language learning aside means it will take you a lot longer to achieve your goals. 

Still think apps will replace language teachers? Think again.

Avoid the technology traps

Luckily, you can overcome all of the above challenges by choosing an online language course like Lingoda. You’ll learn to communicate genuinely and authentically (no quick translations!) through face-to-face  conversational lessons with native-speaking teachers. 

And if you’re someone who just isn’t great at making – and focusing on – your own study plan, you can try a more structured learning format like Lingoda’s Marathons or Sprints. These courses require you to commit a certain amount of time per day or month, and offer reward incentives to stick to the plan!

Technology for the win! 

If you think technology is making language learning harder, it’s time to think again. Let Lingoda show you how using the right tools in the right way can make language learning easier… and so much better!