Monday, August 28, 2017

Choosing The Right Path: Online or Classroom Learning? by Tess Wilkinson

Which is the best way to study: online (also known as distance learning) or classroom? It’s not easy selecting the ideal option as there are many factors to consider; flexibility, travel arrangements, cost etc.

The first factor to consider is Time. Do you have the time to fit a classroom qualification into your schedule? Working full time myself, I know and understand the struggles of having the time to fit everyday life into the short few hours you get to yourself after the working day is done.

Some of you may have families to tend to which makes timing even trickier. Some of you may be full time interpreters, meaning your schedule is busy and unpredictable. Keep in mind that if you choose a classroom qualification, you will need to commit to attending on a regular basis, at a certain time each week and it’s not just the time spent at class that you have to plan for, you also need to consider your travel time and time to complete homework assignments.

If the answer to my first question is ‘No’, then I would strongly advise looking into an online qualification. Our online Interpreter qualifications are very flexible and accessible.

You have the freedom to log in and out of your studies whenever and wherever you like; from your smartphone or your everyday life into the short few hours you get to yourself after the working day is done.

Another factor to consider is your learning preference. How do you like to learn? Are you a visual learner? Do you learn better by being surrounded with peers? Or do you like to get stuck in and learn as you go? Every individual learns and processes information in a different way, so we always try to cater for this.

If you find that your motivation to study is low, a classroom learning option might be best here. In a classroom, a teacher or tutor will be present as well as a classroom full of other students, and there is a set schedule for attending these classroom sessions and for completing work. This is a great motivator as you have to attend these sessions, and if you don’t, you will not gain the full qualification. For distance learning, one way around this is to agree deadlines with your assessor and make sure you stick to them.

Do you have the facilities to travel to a physical location? This is an important question to ask, as this alone can be a deciding factor for if a classroom or online qualification is the best option for you.

If the classroom location of the qualification is a fair distance from your home, this is off putting and demotivating for many reasons. It could be costly, it could be time consuming, and you may not drive and have to take public transport (which is unreliable at the best of times!). With a distance learning option, all of the time you put aside for your qualification can be spent studying so if travel is an issue, the online option is best for you.

The next factor I would consider is support. How do you like to be supported whilst studying? Do you like to be supported on a 1-2-1 basis, within a group of students or not at all? Many people assume an online qualification comes with no support from a tutor or assessor and, in a lot of cases, this is true.

If you prefer not to have any support and be left to your own devices, this is also an option. You can go through the content of the course by yourself and then discuss your progress with your assessor at the end of each module.

If you prefer to work in groups or with a class of students and a teacher, then the classroom learning option should be considered here but remember, you will still be required to work on your own to complete the majority of your assignments.

Finally, a key consideration for the majority of people is cost. Have you considered the full cost of the qualification such as price of attending, travel costs, childcare costs etc.? For a classroom qualification, you have to consider every single cost you may incur. You may have to take time off work to attend the class, which may mean that you do not get paid. If you have children, you may need to arrange childcare, which is costly.

You need to consider the price of transport getting to and from the classroom e.g.: petrol costs or bus/train fare and finally, you need to look at the overall enrolment cost. The total cost for a classroom qualification is more than likely higher than that of a distance learning qualification because you do not have to consider add on costs for a distance learning qualification.

At ISL, the cost of our qualifications cover all learning material, assessment fees and the support from your assessor and language specialist. There is no travel or childcare costs as you can study from the comfort of your own home.

Online or distance learning is becoming increasingly popular and will eventually be the leading and preferred learning method. According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, students undertaking online qualifications or training courses actually perform better than those attending a classroom course.

We hope this information will help you to choose your ideal learning method. If you have a question, get in touch with us at ISL and we will be more than happy to help!

This blog is brought to you by Tess Wilkinson from the International School of Linguists.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Benefits of Second Language Acquisition by Clinton Loomis

Learning a second language is very important and healthy. Scientific research indicates that it cognitive development.

Learning About Culture

Acquiring a second language helps you learn about different beliefs and cultures by giving you a pool of knowledge and ideas in common with other speakers of your new language.

You then start to understand the origins of certain cultures and how they came to be. When you learn a foreign language, you tend to gain a positive attitude towards other people’s culture and beliefs since.

Associating with other communities also helps children develop a broader view of the world. Children who understand the differences between different communities are also great at coming up with solutions when tensions arise between communities.

Better Problem Solving

If you have a second language, you can use the language to think differently and approach problems differently. This is hugely beneficial when it comes to problem solving. According to research, children who are exposed to a second language at a younger age tend to have a higher IQ than those exposed later on in life.

Bilingual children also tend to exhibit better levels of concentration meaning they tend to learn more quickly as they're paying attention. This extends beyond just language classes, too. Thanks to their improved concentration, bilingual children have an advantage when ti comes to other subjects like math.

Being bilingual is also shown to increase the size of your brain. Bilinguals tend to be more rational and logical when it comes to subjects like science and math. Their rational and logical approach when combined with higher levels of concentration means that they are better at making decisions.

Employment Opportunities

Learning a foreign language can also help when it comes to finding work, especially when it comes to international companies. In fact, some people have even studied a second language solely to improve their careers.

Then there are jobs that come with foreign languages. Foreign language graduates can work in teaching, translation, interpreting, etc. Language graduates can even be found working at immigration services.

Bilingual graduates have also contributed to bringing the world together using language as a bridge. They've also been to communicate with online communities that they wouldn't usually due to the language barrier.

Improving Your First Language

Anyone who mastered a second language is usually fairly well versed in their own language. Additionally, learning vocabulary, grammar, idioms, structures, and conjugations can teach you more about your own language. You start to see the similarities and differences between the two. Learning a foreign language in a specific context, at work, for example, can help you learn more about your own language in contexts you may not be familiar.

Learning a foreign language can also improve your confidence in all your languages and improve your mood. A happy learner is an effective learner and you'll find that, when paired with your improved concentration, you'll learn more quickly than ever. This will help when it comes to multitasking, remembering names and figures, and spatial memory.

Clinton Loomis is an educational specialist who has helped clients write for more than four years. He likes to use his skills to help his students. He can be found on Google+.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Self-Studying Foreign Languages: Dos and Don’ts by Richard Nolan

Most people find learning a new language a bit of an impossible task. While it’s true that being able to grasp a foreign language may pose a challenge, it's not necessarily an impossible task. You can do it all by yourself. With the right resources, self-study may actually be just what you need to learn a foreign language.

So, what can you do to learn a new language? Here's a list of a few do's and don’ts.


1. Remember that Learning Is an Ongoing Process

Students have always had a problem recognizing that learning is an ongoing process since classes are usually finite. Self-study can help avoid such a scenario. When we decide to learn all by ourselves, there is no start date and end date. This means you have to be alert at all times!

There are many ways to learn apart from just reading books. You can listen to audio lessons, watch a movie in the foreign language or just interact with fluent speakers of the language!

You could be at a local restaurant, taking the bus, watching a movie or going to concerts or sporting events and still learn a thing or two. Carry a small note book around, where you can be writing down new vocabulary learned or challenges experienced.

2. Use Native Speakers

Native speakers are one of the most important resources when self-studying. They can be better than getting lessons from a teacher in a classroom. Native speakers are often more at ease with the language and they know the vocabulary and grammar better.

You can even be able to get the proper pronunciations and intonation of words and phrases. Talking and listening to native speakers broadens your understanding of the foreign language you are trying to master.

3. Exposure

When it comes to learning anything new, including a new language, exposing yourself is of great significance. While learning a foreign dialect, exposure comes in a number of ways, you just have to find what works for you. Here are some of the ways you can get more exposure to a language:

  • Watching movies and soap operas.
  • Listening to music and live radio.
  • Reading novels, newspapers, magazines or journals.
  • Going to concerts or sports events like a soccer game.
  • Restaurants are a great learning experience, too. In addition to all the good food you get to eat, you can learn through listening to people talk and ordering in the language that you’re trying to learn.
  • Podcasts and internet videos.

4. Practice

"Practice makes perfect" may sound like a bit of a clichΓ©. However, we've all come across it and for a good reason. Perfection and success, in general, don't come easy in life. We need to put the effort in terms of practice in whatever we desire to achieve. Self-study makes practice obligatory.

Understanding a foreign language takes hours of practice through reading and writing. You can write dialogues, read or write essays with a focus on persuasive essay topics. The list of things that you can do for practice is limitless. It’s up to you to fully immerse yourself into your learning and find what practice avenue works in your favor. 

5. Have Fun

Whenever I decide to undertake any venture, one of the things I look at is the happiness factor, and I must say it has done a great deal for me. Have fun while learning, it makes the learning process easier and can make you successful. Nothing is worth doing if you’re not enjoying yourself. When something doesn't give you joy, what's the point in doing it? Enjoy your self-study - it makes all the effort you are putting in worth it!

6. Use Online Resources

The internet provides a number of platforms where you can learn a new language. You can find a native speaker from the country where the language you're trying to learn is spoken and communicate with them regularly. Learning a bit of their culture makes you better understand the language. Take advantage of YouTube videos and podcasts.


1. Get Comfortable

Once we’ve mastered a foreign language, most of us tend to get comfortable. The problem with this is that there's  a likelihood we may forget things. Self-study is a great way to avoid getting into that trap. Refresh your skills from time to time through reading, speaking, and writing.

2. Think Listening To a Native Speaker Isn’t Entirely the Solution

Native speakers are great but don't assume that just by listening to them automatically makes you fluent in a language. A lot of people fail because they thought having a native speaker guide them is all they needed.

3. Get Stressed Out

From my personal experience, working under favorable conditions makes us more efficient. Don't study if you're feeling tired or stressed out. The chances are you may not learn as much as you intended. It can also make the whole process too complicated. Write down your schedule and find a time of the day when you’re rested and are most likely to be efficient.


Learning a foreign language was previously a bit of a challenge since resources were limited. However, this has changed tremendously over the years. Right now, self-study is a great way to master a new language.

All it takes is finding the right resources to use, though there are things that one must be careful not do in the process as they may hinder the learning process. With self-study, you go at your own pace and can get more involved. Don't forget to have fun!

Richard Nolan is a writer and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of  writing, blogging, entrepreneurship and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers and students. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Languages Online: The Best of July 2017

As it's the start of a new month, we're back with some of the internet's best stories and content from last month. Let's have a look:

The Oxford Blog brought us some fascinating terms on Australian political speak in this article. Do you know your barbecue stopper from your wombat's tail? Don't worry if you don't! Find out about these interesting English terms in this article.

Anyone learning a language will appreciate this one. While making mistakes in a foreign language can be embarrassing, you should own those mistakes and use them to improve your foreign language skills. This article tells you how!

You ever had a feeling you can't put into words? This article explaining words for weird sensations and feelings might help!

Whether you're having a baby, trying to raise one bilingual, or just interested in child language acquisition, this is an article you should be reading!


This article discusses the languages spoken in Hong Kong and how the linguistic landscape has changed since the UK handed it back over to China in 1997.

If you're American, this won't bother you. However, if you're a speaker of British English, you may feel a little annoyed. It turns out that English is becoming more and more American but that doesn't mean that there's anything to worry about.

We just love the comics on Itchy Feet. Especially this one! (You should also check out their Kickstarter for their travel card game here.

Here's another article on child language acquisition. However, the article's focus is on making your baby bilingual. If you're interested in raising your child in a multilingual environment, here's how!

According to a recent study, babies can distinguish languages before they can even speak them. Check out this intriguing article about the study carried out by the University of Kansas.

This month's most popular piece is an article on what would seem like a non-story. It turns out we don't know why there are so many languages in the world! If you'd like to know more about why we don't know stuff, you should check out this article.

Were there any other articles or content online this month that we should have featured? Tell us about them in the comments below.