Advances in technology have provided many ways for students to learn a foreign language online. In addition to online language courses and websites that teach the basics of grammar and vocabulary, there are multiple ways to interact with other learners and native speakers. Students can take advantage of video conferencing, email and instant messaging to practice their speaking and listening skills. Online video websites also have provided a way for students to practice their listening skills and comprehension, as well as helping them get used to various accents and other pronunciation difficulties. A combination of all of these capabilities can provide a well-rounded online learning experience.
Students can choose from both free online courses and paid college courses when learning a foreign language online. An online course provides a good foundation for basic grammar and vocabulary and is especially useful if one is learning a language he or she has never studied. A good online language course also will provide opportunities for the student to practice listening and speaking skills and may include correspondence with people who speak the target language. A good tip for getting the most out of an online course is to make note of new vocabulary words and to review grammar concepts that one finds difficult.
After one has a good foundation in the basics of a language, he or she can practice these new skills by communicating with others who are learning the foreign language online. Some websites provide a pen pal service that pairs the student with another person who speaks the target language. Online message boards in the target language also can be an interesting learning experience because they immerse the student in the language. If one gets stuck on what to say, online translation websites are a helpful tool for forming new phrases and can help increase the student's vocabulary over time.
Although reading and writing in a foreign language online are useful skills, one also needs to practice his or her language and speaking skills. Voice conferencing and instant-messaging programs make this easy and usually are a free service. At first, speaking with others in the language might seem difficult; however, one will usually find that his or her comprehension and speaking abilities increase after multiple sessions. If one prefers not to speak live with others, the student also can watch online videos or listen to online radio stations in the language he or she wishes to learn.