How to achieve your new year resolution: learn a foreign language

So you’ve decided your New Year resolution in 2011 is to learn a new language. You’re not alone. So what do you do next? There are myriad options available for intending language learners, and we’ll outline a few here. I know first and foremost you’re interested in knowing the cost, time and

effort involved in learning a language.

Cost: This can range from FREE (lesson downloads/youtube) to thousands of dollars. How much you spend would depend on your budget and how committed you are to learning a language. Generally there are 3 options (also check out the detailed comparison between Euroasia and other providers/options).

1) Going to a school: You may choose to go down the academic route and enrol at university, especially if you want to dedicate yourself to mastering the language. Some even decide to spend some time at a language school overseas in full-immersion ($5000+). There are also private providers like Euroasia who offer part-time courses (cost: $368).

2) Private tutor: Proceed at your own pace. Supply of private tutors is plentiful. You can even hire a teacher off the supermarket notice board. Quality is highly variable, and so are costs ($20-$60 per hour). You can also hire a teacher from a recognised language school. You will definitely pay more, but at least you have some assurance of the quality of the teacher and the backing of the school.

3) Online/Independent learning: There are plenty of CD or online packages available as a search on google would confirm. This option gives you some flexibility. And is not that expensive (FREE to a few hundred dollars, depending on package you choose). In fact you can get started right away. But do you have the discipline to do everything by yourself? What if you need to ask a native speaker how to pronounce certain words? Or if you get stuck with a certain problem with grammar?

Time/Effort: What do you mean by “learn a language”? To get by in everyday situations, to speak it like a native, or to reach one of many different stages in between? There’s a huge range of possible levels of competence, and a huge range in the amount of time needed. Which one do you hope to achieve? People are also different; some pick up a language faster than others. The ads which say you will be speaking your target language by studying ten minutes a day, watching a video clip or simply listening to your Ipod while you exercise overlook this fact.

In my experience, most Kiwis want to learn enough to “get by”, ie. to introduce yourself, ask for directions, engage in small talk, some bargaining, order food. This is why we’ve designed our course to be as practical as possible, so that you leave us with practical know-how you can immediately use in real life. Our basic beginners course involves 10 lessons delivered over 2, 5 or 10 weeks. Even in this short space of time you can make really significant progress. If you can find time in between lessons to go over material, expand your vocabulary, listen to CDs, then you will undoubtedly make faster progress.

New Year resolution: Learn a language

Language learning is an aspirational goal that ranks highly on many resolution lists. It’s an especially worthy endeavour for avid travellers wanting to maximise their travel experience. You’ve probably heard stories from Kiwis who have returned from their “Overseas Experience” lamenting the fact that they would’ve enjoyed themselves more if they could speak the local lingo.

These days travel is not the only driver of foreign language learning. Increasingly Kiwis realise that knowing a foreign language gives them a distinct edge in dealing with clients and suppliers from other cultures. Job seekers also realise that employers value people who speak more than one language. Language learners also demonstrate to potential employers that they are proactive enough to make the effort to learn

a foreign language.

Every January, we see a surge in interest from people wanting to learn a language, and I’m sure 2011 will be no different. It’s worth checking out my blog entry from last year, on how to make a SMART plan to ensure you meet your language learning goals.

For a zero-risk evaluation of whether language learning is for you, check out the Euroasia FREE language taster lesson that is taking place on Wednesday, 19 January 2011.

6pm-7pm: French,

German, Portuguese, Mandarin.

7.30pm-8.30pm: Spanish, Italian, Japanese.

Venue: Euroasia, 10 Titoki Street, Parnell (next to Birthcare) – plenty of parking at Auckland Domain or along Titoki Street.

Please register for the free class as we have a limited number of spaces.

Posted via email from Euroasia

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

3 Comments

  1. Mike Beagle says:

    Great post Ken,

    any idea of the success rates of each? I have tried to learn spanish twice with self study software and both times got bored or gave up thru lack of motivation.

    since then i have hooked up with friends (shamless plug coming) at uspeaklanguages , they do the private tutor thing, but over skype, do you have any thoughts on that?

    I think private tutors would have to be the highest success rate, but the fact that you have to meet up is a factor that would put many of today’s online kids off.

  2. Ken Leong says:

    @Mike Beagle Hi Mike. There are certainly pros and cons with all 3 options. Self-study can be very effective, and we’ve seen clients who have learnt a lot by themselves. Alas, this is far and few between. The biggest issue with self-study is the discipline required to stick to the programme. All of us benefit from being held to account.

    Private tutors are great, but most people prefer having others in class to practice with. After all, learning a language is very much a social experience.

    We’ve all heard that with the advent of online learning people will no longer attend language classes in bricks-and-mortar schools. Why bother with the hassle of traffic and carparking? The reality is bricks-and-mortar schools have thrived in times of recession, even with with the proliferation of online learning options and ever increasing broadband speeds.

  3. Mike Beagle says:

    interesting Ken,

    thanks for the reply.

    I wonder if anyone has actually put together any hard numbers as to the different methods of learning spanish in class, vs physical private tutor, and online tutoring, as well as possibly immersive teaching courses i see advertised a lot.

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