“Language Learning from Home” by Chris Hope

“Language Learning from Home” by Chris Hope

Because of quarantine, many of us have more time at home to do things. It’s up to you how you spend your time, and whatever you choose to do should be what you want, whether it be getting ahead in work, picking up a hobby, or just relaxing. Languages are a big interest of mine (my majors are Linguistics and Three Languages, after all), and keeping up with language classes can be difficult when not in a classroom environment. I’m in the Honors section of my Italian class this semester, a class which has a large focus on conversation. Both my Italian and German classes thankfully have weekly Zoom meetings, but not everyone has that guarantee. There are all kinds of resources online for learning a language, and each resource offers its own pros and cons.

Duolingo is one popular app and website for language learning, offering over 35 courses in languages of all different varieties. Every language major under UD’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (DLLC) is offered on the site save for Ancient Greek, though one can always branch out if they want to, including with constructed languages such as Esperanto and Klingon. Duolingo is good for first getting into a language; however, it starts to falter once more complicated grammar concepts get thrown into the mix. Alongside that, the quality of courses differs by language, with some languages being constantly updated and others not being touched for years.

More official resources also exist for learning languages, such as from governments and other larger organizations and institutions. While not totally available at the moment, the University’s DLLC offers the Language Proficiency Center, Language Resource Center, and Tutoring Services to students through the DLLC website at https://www.dllc.udel.edu/undergrad-study/student-resources. Some governments and international organizations also offer learning resources; the Foreign Service Institute offers about 70 free language courses at https://www.fsi-language-courses.net including Spanish, French, Arabic, and more. The European Commission, part of the European Union, offers resources in translation, has papers online translated into tons of languages, and has financially supported various websites that aim to teach specific languages.

Lastly, there are all sorts of forums and websites dedicated to communication between those learning languages. You can use some of these to communicate with other learners or even with native speakers, the latter being one way to better immerse yourself into your target language.

With all this in mind, it’s nearly impossible to become fluent by using one resource alone. Every resource has its own pros and cons, making them complementary to one another. If you have the time and want, this is a great time to brush up on the high school Spanish you forgot or to branch out and try something new. Many sources are just a search away. Ciao tutti, e spero che stiate bene durante la quarantena!

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