Electronic Distance Learning
In online language courses, students receive their lectures and assignments via the internet, and turn in their work the same way. Professors can make use of multi-media lecture materials such as video and audio, and often students can communicate with their professors and each other using voice chat software. Audio discussions and presentations are vital components of online language learning, as students strive to attain conversational competence including spoken fluency and aural comprehension skills.
Electronic distance learning boasts the significant advantage of convenience. Students can learn and review much of the coursework at their own pace and whenever they have time available. Through class message boards and e-mail, professors and students can maintain ongoing discussions of the work without having to be present for real-time interactions. This is very beneficial for many aspiring language learners, who often have busy schedules full of work and family responsibilities, and would find it prohibitively time-consuming to attend a traditional classroom course.
Of course, the responsibility rests with the student to ensure that he or she has the technological capability to access the online materials and discussions. Older computers and feeble internet connections may make participation in today's multi-media classes frustrating or impossible, and even if the appropriate hardware and software are in place, the student must know how to use them.
Online education does not suit every student's learning style. Some people find that they do not learn as effectively without face-to-face contact and a set classroom schedule to keep them motivated and focused on the work. But for many self-motivated students, it is the perfect way to incorporate language learning into a busy lifestyle.