Online resources for language learning: Don’t rely on only ONE

Online language learning materials have revolutionized learning. They have managed to generate democratization of knowledge, as well as inclusion. 20 years ago or so, it would have been impossible for me to learn the languages I am learning right now or meeting people from almost all over the World.

In fact, many of those language learning materials found online are well thought to suit any learners’ needs: people with not much spare time available, people who prefer a more interactive approach, books, audios, among others. You can look up words on online dictionaries or pronounciation guides. Even Google Translate can help in some instances for isolated pronounciation 😮

However, to be honest, I am wary of several methods, especially the ones in which people tend to get so enthusiast for and exclusively rely on them, without considering that you need to spice up your learning (i.e. use different resources to practice different aspects, ask for feedback from educated native speakers, getting in touch with local media and culture, etc.). Maybe the problem isn’t the method, to be honest… it is the attitude people partake with them. Learning a language is a hard job. Even if you choose to learn it with free sources. Those free, self-studying sources, in my opinion, require probably 3-4x the effort, time, dedication and discipline than people who decided who go with a more classroom-like instruction in languages. Lacking one of them would probably make your learning not effective. In this particular issue, I will consider DEDICATION.

Dedication is, besides your own will to learn a language, the time you spend gathering materials and informing yourself about them. Their strengths, weaknesses and what you can achieve by using them; if they are useful for your goal (whether it is being hold to hold small conversations, learning about the grammar, learning to communicate or read, or have a working competence in it) or so. Maybe, if you want to hold small conversations back and forth, having a tandem friend is probably the best thing you can have along with a small book that explains phrasal constructions and a dictionary to look for vocabulary, as well as informing yourself about the cultural expressions (music, films, et al). Those different resources can make my knowledge boost and learn different things that aren’t covered in X, Y or Z method-

Now, you may wonder, what was my inspiration for this post?

I have been practicing Hungarian phonology lately, especially vowel distinction. Hungarian has a more complex set of vowels, and many foreigners do get them confused, including myself. In order to work with it, I tend to look for videos on YouTube with the explanation and repeating common expressions with it.

One of the apparently most complicated words for Hungarian learners is egészségedre, the informal expression for cheers!, to your health! or bless you! Anyone may get scared with the amount of vowels and consonants.

If you ever type that into Google, you may get this as a first result

Captura

A video with pronounciation, interesting! This is the actual video

My Hungarian friends and fellow Hungarian learners would probably want to smash their heads to the keyboard right now. I guess someone used Google Translator’s voice generated software the wrong way or forgot to set it in Hungarian. Yet, this was the first result of it.

So, don’t be afraid of spending a lot of time researching for the right material. Look at comments, experiences from other learners, ask for advice, among other things. Maybe it’ll spare you one or two headaches while actually learning your language.

By the way, the right pronounciation for egészségedre is [ɛɡeːʃːeːɡɛdrɛ], that is to say: