One of the first places that people turn to when they want to learn a foreign language is to foreign language courses taught in colleges and universities, even though there are many other methods for learning a language. These types of classes are designed to build students’ vocabularies and grammar competence, and often involve a combination of exercises requiring speaking, reading, and writing in the target language.
There are many advantages to learning a foreign language in this environment, particularly if the class is starting at the basic level. The students can learn the basics of the language, including greetings and common sayings, colors, and numbers, which can be a lot of fun. Often the students in the classes act as support systems to one another and can help each other out if any of them have difficulty. It is also a good format for receiving immediate feedback on pronunciation and grammar correctness from the instructor.
However, there are disadvantages to taking traditional foreign language classes. When the courses begin to delve into covering grammatical topics, much of the class time is often spent repeating conjugations or other grammatical concepts, with the focus being on memorizing structures through rote, which many students find to be tedious. It can also be said that many of the dialogues in the foreign language textbooks used in these courses are not realistic and do not represent the types of conversations the students would actually have with native speakers of the language. It is also unlikely that students will gain proper foreign language fluency if they don’t speak or practice the language outside of class.
Even though there are advantages to this method of learning a foreign language, it is probably best for foreign language learners in these traditional classes to supplement their learning with other methods.