Keep language in the classroom

Online language courses should not be offered at the University.

Meghan O'Connor

The Internet has changed the way that we learn, including the way we learn languages. Universities across the country have added online options to their course catalogues, including the University of Minnesota. While I appreciate an occasional online course to supplement a tirelessly heavy workload, language classes should not be offered online at the University.

Learning a language, as I’m sure we can all relate to, is a tricky business. It requires mastering a new accent, learning how to conduct conversation and being exposed to other speakers. All of which need human contact to achieve.

While most, if not all, language courses at the University have Moodle sites that offer online material, these are usually flashcards or helpful quizzes to work in conjunction with one’s in-classroom time.

Online classes do offer a wide sense of flexibility that other classes do not. However, learning a language isn’t like a math course, where you can watch a lecture and then go home to work on sample problems.

With this said, language-learning software has a time and place. Say, after you finish your four semesters of language for the CLA requirement, you want to keep learning. This may be the time to download some software to stay familiar with vocabulary or simple sentence structure.

But the University should not offer language courses online to fulfill any kind of requirement.

If we could all fly off to the land of our chosen language to be immersed in the language and culture, we would. But since that isn’t available to all of us, we need to experience the language and the culture in the second- best environment: the classroom.

Being a part of a language class is like being a part of a family. Currently, I’m in my second semester of Swedish, and my peers are all supportive and enthusiastic about the course. Simulating the kind of environment that I have experienced in my Swedish class online would be infeasible.

Learning a language is not an independent activity; it is an interactive one.