You’ve thought about getting fluent in at least one other language, right?
In fact, you’ve already imagined yourself speaking fluently with native speakers. You even feel a wave of pride wash over you. And you want to feel that wave of pride wash over you.
But you can’t travel at the moment and the idea of commuting to a class and sitting with strangers horrifies you.
The good news is that you know you can learn languages online. You’re just not sure how.
3 Rock Solid Reasons To Learn Languages Online
Before I tell you about how to use Skill Silo, let’s take a quick look at why learning language is a smart move.
1. Learning a language is the king of all brain games.
A lot of people look for mental exercise, but nothing pays off more than packing your mind full of foreign language vocabulary and phrases.
2. You make back your investment in droves.
Learning a language costs three things: time, money and energy. As you develop fluency, over time you get an amazing return on your investment. Memories that last forever. Greater chances at meaningful employment. Boosts of energy-creating confidence.
3. You make new friends.
People love it when you can speak their language. Not only that, but you can be a better friend. You can teach your monolingual friends cool words, phrases and elements of another culture.
You also get to introduce the friends you meet in your new language to aspects of your mother tongue and culture. It’s win-win and you get to be the hero.
And if you’re a parent searching for ways to learn languages online for kids, your children will not only make friends through language learning online programs. They’ll also find mentors who teach them how to learn. Plus, language learning is great memory exercise and you can use the language learning environment as an opportunity to teach your kids memory techniques.
There are many more reasons why you should learn a language. You’ll find another 15 Reasons Why Learning A Foreign Language Is Good For Your Brain here.
Why Most Online Language Platforms Are
There are dozens of places you can learn languages online. Some are really awesome and I still use them. Italki.com, for example, has oodles of great features. With some sift-sort-and-screen skills under your belt, you can find really great teachers.
But a lot of places have confusing payment plans. It’s not clear why their teachers have the privilege of teaching online and there seems to be no standard. Plus, you get a wash of language learning materials that you always have to hunt for.
3 Things I Love About Skill Silo
Skill Silo solves a lot of the problems I’ve just mentioned. I’m a big boy, for example, so I like when I see the cost of my language learning sessions clearly expressed in a real currency. I don’t have to translate money in my head so I know exactly what I’m paying.
This transparency helps me evaluate the value of the teacher I’m learning from as well because it feels like real cash I’m spending, not Monopoly money. On other platforms, I’ve felt like the payment structures are deliberately obscure so that I don’t really know how much I’m spending or how much I’m getting for my investment.
I also like that I can choose whether I want one hour or 30-minute sessions. On some other platforms, it’s up to the instructor what length of classes they offer. However, I like to vary the session lengths each time depending on my goals with different teachers. When I do “vocab-en-masse” blitzes, then an hour is great. But for theme-based lessons for developing skills with a verb and some nouns, 30-minutes is plenty to get the jist and do the homework myself.
One Textbook In One Place
Skill Silo also has the advantage of providing you with a textbook. This feature has saved me a lot of time. Yes, I’m a memory expert, but I work sometimes with dozens of language teachers in the space of a year and when each one has their own worksheets and file-naming styles … It can be a real mess. I love that Skill Silo offers a central textbook.
When the teachers do offer supplementary worksheets, they are just that: supplements to a core textbook I can access anytime online through my Skill Silo account. Having access to the textbook in full also means I can pace ahead and think about what I would like to focus on during the next session.
This feature helps maximize the value of the time, energy and money invested because the best learners are self-directed learners. But on some other platforms I’ve used, it feels like the teachers use their learning materials like a gateway drug. It’s as if they imagine that if they dole it out once dose at a time, you’ll keep coming back for more. Not necessarily.
Mistakes To Avoid When You Learn Languages Online
At the end of the day, no matter what platform you use, the teacher can only be as good as the student. That means you need to come prepared to your lessons.
The question is … how do you do this?
It’s a bit of a puzzle to figure out because when you learn languages online, the answer involves having the right teacher. In order to find the right teacher, you’ve got to dive in and try a few out. In fact, it might be necessary to have more than one teacher. Both Olly Richards and I tend to meet with several teachers in rotation and you can hear Olly’s reasons why along with his crazy language learning goals and mastering motivation secrets.
Here are some general tips:
1. Don’t delay.
As this Guardian article points out, the question “Can I successfully learn a language online?” puzzles a lot of people.
Don’t let it.
Just pick a teacher who looks good and book a session. Far too many people hum and haw over this step. But that’s just an evasion tactic. You want to learn a language, so you need to dive in somewhere. And don’t let perfectionism stop you. Chances are you’ll need to try at least two teachers before you find a match.
2. Invest in screen recording software.
I use Screenflow, a software which lets me review each session if I wish. I’ve cut my voice out of the recordings and made audiobooks of lessons so I can listen through them quickly, make notes and use the Magnetic Memory Method to memorize the material.
A lot of people don’t think to record their language learning sessions, but doing so is golden. If things get overwhelming or you zone out, it’s never a problem. You can go through the lesson again as many times as you like.
3. Come to the session prepared.
Always come with the material from last week ready so you can quickly review before diving into something new. Even if you haven’t memorized all of it, you should have your homework ready to share with the teacher so you can go over it.
4. Think ahead.
As you work on new material, consciously use what you already know from the previous week.
For example, if you learned about aunts and uncles last week and you’re doing fruit this week, talk about how your uncle likes strawberries. Your teacher might not think to make the connection, but you can.
And to succeed, you must. Ultimately, you’ll be the one out in the world speaking, so it’s great exercise to already have in mind what you want to speak about prepared for each lesson and make connections during the sessions. You’ll be doing that in real life too, so consider it training ground.
5. Mind your manners.
Always be on time, always say thank you and speak as little in your mother tongue as possible. It’s good to be able to ask questions in your mother tongue, but move to the language you’re studying as soon as possible.
6. Schedule multiple sessions in advance.
If you book sessions in bulk, you create milestones that help you organize your daily language learning activities. If you don’t have a daily learning ritual, check out these morning memory secrets.
7. Understand and use the power of motivation.
There’s a science to keeping your energy and enthusiasm high, so don’t feel like you have to slog through the process. Also, learn to balance the level of challenge. As James Clear discusses, The Goldilocks Rule is the key to success in life and it works in the business of language learning too.
8. Make a blog that documents your journey.
Have you ever noticed how often I talk about my language learning stories on this blog? Well, it’s not by accident. When you talk about what you’re learning, you process it through different representational channels in your brain. Writing about your language learning experiences sinks what you’ve learned into deeper channels.
I remember 办公室 (bàngōngshì) better than a lot of other words, for example, because I took the time to teach other people how I learned it. I’ve talked about it on the Magnetic Memory Method podcast, written about it and even shared a drawing of what I saw in my mind so that I could instantly memorize the sound, meaning and tones of the word:
If blogging isn’t for you, simply tell other people what you’re learning and explain why you’re remembering it so easily thanks to the Magnetic Memory Method. As you’ve heard me say a zillion times before, when you teach others what you’ve learned, you learn it better yourself.
My poor roommate, friends and fiancé have to listen to endless explanations of the bizarre imagery I use to create mnemonics that work, but it’s part of getting the highest possible levels of success. Fast.
And that’s an important point. Even though you can learn languages online, you also want to speak what you’ve learned at every possible opportunity – even with people who aren’t studying your target language.
If you don’t have any friends, explain the mnemonics you’re using to your teacher. I’m sure they’ll be amused and enthused that you’re remembering the lessons and love knowing more about how you’re pulling it all off.
9. Never stop learning.
Fluency is not a destination. It’s a way of life.
To this day I work on improving my best language, including memorizing German phrases. Just as you need to keep doing pushups to keep your muscles strong, you need to keep speaking with people in order for fluency levels to remain high. When you can learn languages online, there’s no reason not to keep up this practice for the rest of your life.
Free Online Language Courses
Are A Supplement To Speaking (Not An Alternative)
It’s tempting to think you can learn a language by playing around all day with language learning apps. There are many out there and they do help get words and phrases into your long term memory.
However, with some of them, you’re hearing the language spoken by a computer. They’re also often not giving you words and phrases that are even remotely useful to you. Finally, when it comes time to speak a language, you have a human in front of you. Not a mouse and keyboard.
You might also think you can get to fluency with a “learn languages online chat” mission. Chatting certainly can help, but the same principle applies. You need to speak and you need to speak often.
But if you are going to chat online, then with whom better than a dedicated language learning teacher? They’ll know a lot about your current situation, have spoken with you and if you’re using Skype, you’ll have an easily accessible track record of your discussions.
Just make sure that you actually speak about what you discussed during your online chat. Get the words and phrases into the muscle memory of your mouth, not just your fingers.
When Will You Make The Leap From Dreamer To Speaker?
Learning a language involves making a lot of mistakes. The sooner you get started the better.
The cool thing about how we can learn languages online in today’s world is that you can make those mistakes in the comfort of your own home. Only one other person has to know – and that person can be a trained professional.
Or you can be a bit more public and share words you’re learning on YouTube, like I do with playlist on how to improve vocabulary with mnemonic examples:
No matter how you proceed, now that you know why you should be learning a language and have some solid tips for getting started on solid footing, there’s really only one mistake you can make:
Not getting started.
But if you’re ready right now, Skill Silo offers lessons in:
Their teachers are professional, dedicated and the system is easy to use. If you’ve ever wanted a simple way to book instructors, a brain-dead simple means of accessing one core textbook so you’re not swamped with learning materials and sessions you can record and refer to again and again.
Why not schedule your first free session now? This is what you’ll see when you visit Skill Silo now to book your first session:
If you’re ready to experience live sessions with language teachers in the comfort of your own home, then then I know you’re going to love learning your dream language with the help of Skill Silo. Just click the image above, select your desired language and you can easily get started right away.