Having the ability to speak another language is a skill with immeasurable benefits. Not only does it open up financial opportunities but travel and leisure possibilities as well. Clear communication is critical when pursuing anything. Being one of the most spoken languages in the world, learning English is a pursuit worth working for. Approximately 50 countries speak English, so it’s no question how this would benefit you. You can connect with people from all over the world!
Knowing this, you have decided to learn English today and join the mass amounts of people who speak it as a first or second language. Or perhaps you need more convincing. Either way, you have begun wondering how learning English would impact your life. Together we will delve into exactly how extensive English is as a language and how large of an impact it has on the world.
You might be surprised. And once you’ve committed to the decision to learn the language, we can look into different methods and what would be best. There is an option for every student, no matter their schedule, budget, or level of learning. By the time your lessons are done, you will be fluent enough to reach out with your new language skills and see how they benefit you. You will soon see that having access to such a widely known language will change your life for the better.
English is one of the most widely used and widely spoken in the world, coming in third to Chinese (first) and Spanish (second). Approximately 1.5 billion people speak English—that’s 20% of the world’s population! Out of these 1.5 billion, about 360 million speak the language as their first language. It is the most studied language in the world. With these statistics, it comes as no surprise that three-quarters of the world’s mail is in English.
About 80% of information stored in the world wide web is in English as well. The language accounts for over half of the world’s technical and scientific periodicals, and five of the largest broadcasting companies transmit in it. English is so widely spoken that schools around the world mandate that it be taught as a second language at a basic level.
With all this information, you might be thinking you’ll start to learn English today and be able to communicate with nearly everyone you meet.
However, it is not that easy. The Oxford Dictionary lists about 500,000 words, and that’s not including the technical and scientific words that are not catalogued. Plus, new slang is being invented on what seems like a daily basis. Where would you begin? There is always the option of immersion, but that can be overwhelming and unstructured.
Not to mention it is hard to learn meanings to words that are completely foreign to you. Classes would be more beneficial. They would provide grammar lessons, sentence structure, and help you learn how to make the language flow in a natural way. Now you need to decide if a traditional classroom is right for you, or if online would suit you better.
Online vs. Classroom
Each method of teaching has its pros and cons. When making your decision, there are a few main things to think about: convenience, affordability, class size, and mentor availability. Take stock of how far you are able to travel, your available budget, and time constraints before anything. After that, it is more personal preference on what class size you prefer.
Traditional classrooms or universities are the common method of taking English classes. Most are in a fairly accessible area that can be reached via walking, public transit, or personal transportation. Depending on how the class is run, it can either be a large lecture hall or smaller groups of 15-30 students. This is beneficial because you can meet with the same people every day and learn from them.
Study groups are extremely beneficial to learning a new language. That way you are working with peers at the same level that you are. However, classes in a traditional setting can be quite costly. Most people cannot afford a university tuition out of pocket. Mentors are also usually less available due to class sizes. They might have office hours that you can schedule a visit, but they generally refer you to tutors or other students if you need assistance.
The third downside is convenience. Classes are at specific times, and usually in the middle of the day. For someone who works a regular job, taking these classes can be impossible. If you don’t work a regular job, you’ll have to haggle with one or more part-time jobs to work around the class schedule. This can be enough of a hassle to make an already stretched student give in before even trying.
Online classes offer convenience that traditional doesn’t even get close to. These classes are taken at the student’s leisure. They can be early morning, midnight, or right around lunch. When you have the time, the class is there ready to go. Online classes also have the ability to be taken wherever you go, so if you decide one day to work on a course in the coffee shop, you can sip and practice verb tenses.
If you want to study in a library, work on your reading comprehension surrounded by books. If it’s a beautiful, sunny day and you want to take classes outside, go sit under that tree and spin some sentences!
Cost is another large benefit. Most online classes are significantly cheaper than traditional universities, making them more accessible to those who can spare very little. Some sites even offer classes for free. A benefit and drawback is the class size. In terms of active learning, you will be the only one taking the course. It is up to you to complete the lesson and assignments. You must have discipline to go every day or however often is necessary to complete the course.
However, unlike traditional classes, you have access to a virtual community of peers that span the entire globe. So online classes are both the largest and smallest classes that you will ever take. Lastly, mentor availability is significantly higher. Namely, because online classes are one-on-one sessions. You will have a mentor all to yourself for any questions or trouble spots you may have.
What the Site Offers
While there are many language learning sites, italki.com is one of the best. This site is completely catered around the student and what they want to gain from their lessons. If they want fluency, that is available. If they want the basics, that is an option as well. Payments are paid per lesson and at a price that can be worked into your budget. The site offers many resources to the prospective student. One-on-one lessons via Skype or other video messaging app is the main one. This is how lessons are conducted. Once you choose a teacher that you feel matches your needs and a time that works for you, all that needs to be done is making sure you have an ample connection to meet with your mentor and begin learning.
Students also have access to articles written by teacher and tutors in the language that they are studying. This can give them tips on how to make learning the language easier. In addition to mentor resources, there are also peer resources. There is a notebook section where you can correct others who are trying to learn your native language and where others can correct you in the language that you are trying to learn.
Language Exchange enables you to find a study partner in the language that you are learning. You would teach that partner your native language while they would teach you theirs. Finally, there are group discussions where you can engage with the online community about language topics. This connects you to peers all over the world.
How You Can Benefit
Learning English has many benefits. The largest is the ability to communicate with a vast amount of people all across the world. International travel to a country that has a large number of English speakers becomes significantly easier and more enjoyable due to clear communication. Jobs based in English speaking countries are now open to you.
Perhaps a promotion that requires correspondences across the ocean was unattainable until you became fluent in English. Surfing the internet will become easier due to the vast amount of web pages that are in English. Maybe your reason is as simple as you have an English speaking penpal and you want to be able to communicate more clearly. Whatever your reason, start to learn English today and see the opportunities that present themselves to you. You will not regret having this language in your skillset.