Learning a new language can prove challenging if the right tools are not available. However, not all tools meet the needs of learners in specific situations. Before worrying about learning tools, look carefully at all the different learning options offered to make sure you select the one best suited to your learning style. Tools that work well as supplements for audio courses, for example, may not be ideal for individuals using Rosetta Stone or some other computer-based learning system. While some mixing and matching may work, examine the different options before purchasing anything.
Traditional courses through a university or a tutoring service generally use a specific text or series of texts to guide learners through step-by-step processes designed to build skills in a logical order. The tools that go along with the text generally include written handouts and exercises designed to build written and oral skills. While some language learners thrive on this type of material, many do not. Other options, with other tools, are becoming more common to meet the needs of today’s learners.
Audio courses have also been around for many years. These courses generally focus more on spoken language. While they may offer a minimal amount of written material, the lessons are designed primarily to provide anyone with basic skills necessary to understand and communicate orally with native speakers. Audio courses work well for tourists, but do little to provide written skills. However, there are many written exercises that a learner could obtain to help with written language. The downside is that there is no real integration between the audio and written portions.
The most recent trend in learning a second language is based on computer programs. There are several different types of programs available to help meet a variety of learner needs. For those who need only a rudimentary knowledge, minimal computer-based programs can be easily obtained. For those who really want to develop a deeper grasp of a language, much more in-depth programs can be obtained. It is important that learners go over each offering before deciding on a program, as the learning methods differ sharply between programs like Rosetta Stone, Speak From Day 1 and Rocket Languages.
Any one learning technique may be lacking in materials to develop specific written or oral skills. Accessory materials are available to fill most learning gaps, but care must be taken to avoid frustration when using materials from different sources.