Are Language Learning Apps the New Teachers of the Era? Language apps are not replacements for a teacher (yet), but can still help people achieve a lot in learning a new language

By Arshan Vakil

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How many times have you watched the British sitcom, Mind Your Language, where Barry Evans plays a language teacher and tries to teach English to people of various nationalities? While he tries his best to make his eclectic group of students comprising people from India, France, China, and many other countries gain a good command of the English language, his classes inevitably do not go as planned, leading to some hilarious circumstances. Well, that was the case in the late '70s. As time passed by and technology came in to the picture, language learning, and developing software tools to make dear old Barry Evans accessible to every prospective learner became a thriving business in India.

Bridging the Gap

Several start-ups understood the potential of communication skills training and were keen to bridge the gap between language learning and employment. They leveraged innovative tech-led approaches to make language learning a breeze for students. Today, there are countless language learning apps that are helping people grasp a new language, widen their vocabulary, understand basic grammar rules, etc. These apps are designed to sharpen the communication skills of its learners and enable them to express themselves efficiently. Furthermore, these apps have brought immense convenience to the users. They no longer have to hurriedly leave from their offices or rush from a meeting to attend a language learning class. With language learning apps enabling them to master a new language at their own pace and comfort, all they need to do is spare some time and learn with dedication.

How Technology has Revolutionized Language Learning

Language learning apps are a great example of how technology has revolutionized learning. Often, learning a new language involves a lot of repetition and can get monotonous. Also, in a classroom with 10-15 students or even more, every student will learn at a different pace, and this may lead to one of two situations – either a few students are faster than the rest of the class and the course gets boring for them or the teacher is moving too fast for a few students who find it difficult to maintain the same pace. With the ability to adopt a course according to the needs and preferences of each learner, language learning apps have created a big advantage over traditional classrooms for themselves. This ability to personalize a course using a learner's past data is arguably the most significant feature of all online self-learning educational tools, especially language learning apps.

Language learning apps have also enabled students to interact with teachers through live classes, which is a godsend for students located in remote areas or those who are striving to learn a language for which there are very few teachers available nearby.

Can Apps Alone Help in Learning a New Language?

Now to address the elephant in the room – how can you learn to speak a new language without a teacher? Learning a new language is not a child's play with so many subtleties involved, such as pronunciation, tone, grammar and accent. While rule-based elements such as vocabulary and grammar can be taught to a self-motivated learner through an app, the subtleties of speaking and most importantly articulation are very difficult to teach through an app. Language apps are not replacements for a teacher (yet), but can still help people achieve a lot in learning a new language. In fact language apps constantly take advantage of the ever-improving speech recognition technology to make up for these shortcomings. Users can now easily access different accents via audio files stored in the apps to make teaching a lot more comprehensive. It is said that acquiring mastery over a language takes a lot of time, dedication and most importantly, a learning source that guides you effortlessly through the initial days of confusion and despair. Language learning apps-with their adaptive content, well-graded material and easy access have managed to emerge as a transformative knowledge vehicle that will surely take every prospective language learner to new frontiers of linguistic success.

Arshan Vakil

Founder, and CEO of Enguru and Kings Learning

Mr. Arshan Vakil, is the Founder, and CEO of Enguru and Kings Learning a technology-driven start-up that is focussed on providing English and communication skill training through innovative technology. Arshan was included in Forbes’ annual 30 under 30 2018 Asia publication in the consumer technology category. Arshan has two degrees, cum laude, with a BSc in Economics from the Wharton School and a BSc in System Science Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at UPenn. 

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