Classroom vs. Independent Learning

02 Apr 2015 04:26 53
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Hi there. Steve Kaufmann here again.

I have been asked to do a video comparing classroom study to independent or online study of languages. The simple answer is that I think the difference is that online study or rather independent study is much more effective and much less expensive than classroom study and I am going to explain why, but then I am going to explain – sort of a condition, alright.

The reason that I think that is that in my own experience classroom study is very ineffective. Now obviously if you have a one on one relationship with a tutor – classroom study of that kind can be very effective, but if you are in a classroom with 5, 10, 15 or in some cases in Asia 70 in a classroom. I don’t think you’ll learn much in that scenario. And the reason is that a lot of the time you will listen to your classmates who speak poorly. I see the same result with my grandchildren who are in French immersion. They have had everything in school in French since they started school. They have had chemistry, their social studies, everything in French and yet they have a very poor accent, because mostly they listen to each other.

If and I have mentioned before that the majority of kids in Canada who are in the regular French stream even after 10 or 12 years can’t speak. If the same amount of time had been spent listening to and reading content of interest occasional review of basic patterns of the language – I believe they would be better off. Even if you are in a classroom I think the learning takes place outside the classroom. Again, unless you are in a one on one situation, but if you’re in a class with 5 or 10 people to me that’s not an environment conducive to learning, so the classroom may inspire you and may set goals, and of course the classroom is a tremendous social environment where you meet your friends, but ultimately if you want to learn in a classroom environment, you have to after the classroom; listen, read, write, speak to people and you can do all the kinds of things that you can do without the classroom.

Now the condition is that, probably today the majority of people aren’t motivated enough or don’t have enough confidence or don’t know how to learn languages so that they need the classroom because without the classroom they would not do much, so to that extent the classroom has the effect of putting the subject in front of people by giving them some objectives, giving them some tests to prepare for and forcing them to do things. But if you are motivated enough to learn on your own then I think the classroom is quite unnecessary.

Now, learning on your own though – people have to learn how to do that and I have posted a new post on my blog and I’ll leave a link, a description where I talk about learning on your own and I think you need to have a mix between exploring the language and exploring different subjects via the language sort of grazing, on the one hand which is maybe 70 or 80% of the time and some more disciplined approach to reviewing in a very basic rote way the main structures and patterns of the language, recognizing that you will forget them and relearning and forget them and relearn them, but some degree of discipline and some effort to knock of sort of basic simple tasks that gives you the sense of satisfaction that you did something needs to be mixed in with the more general listening and reading.

So if you proceed in that way there is no question in my mind that learning on your own is more effective and much less expensive than learning in a classroom, however maybe it is only a minority of people who are capable of doing that. I hope the number of people who will learn independently will increase and you might also with reference to that thought look at my blog post ( on the subject of Independent learning.

Thank you for listening – Bye for now

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