Interactive Classes as the Future of Language Learning

by Amanda Neatley

If you think about it even a moment then you’ll realize how important seeing is to language learning. You see, we don’t just hear with our ears. Our eyes form a big part of it. In fact, we can hear sounds differently based on the lip movement we see. Even if you disregard (admittedly cool) effects like that, then visual elements still form an incredibly important part of learning. After all, body language and gestures can often serve to boost our understanding of what somebody is saying significantly.

For this reason, the video is the obvious tool in language learning. But why stop there? Why not take the next step and go from video to interactivity? This will boost another aspect of our learning and that is engagement. This isn’t that strange, for engagement is hard to provoke when we simply have to sit there passively, while it becomes a lot easier when we feel like we have an impact on the flow of events.

This isn’t the only advantage.

Interactivity allows for experimentation

The problem with a lot of language learning programs is that though you have to choose the right option, the right options are almost always the same. In effect, programs like Duolingo are still rote memorization, but then with gamification and pretty colors thrown in. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Rote memorization is a big part of language learning.

But it is only a part. If you don’t then use that language to actually transmit ideas across to another person, you will never actually learn to speak the language. You’ll have the bits and pieces, but your brain won’t have learned how to sort through them to bring across ideas. All you’ll have it the ability to offer by rote. And that’s not how you write a language or, as I learned from Myessaylab, write an essay.

Interactivity – and with that, I mean true interactivity – forces the user to constantly find new ways to use the language at their disposal. And in the process, they’re pushing the envelope of their own understanding, as well as realizing where they don’t yet have enough capacity to express themselves. From there, it is much easier to engage in directed learning to fill in that shortfall.

This creates both the possibility for directed learning and directed practice.

Can interactive videos do this?

The short answer at this current time is obviously ‘no’. At present, there is no way to follow all the possible paths or deal with all the possible combinations that people will try and use in pre-recorded videos.

The only obvious exception would be that users have a teacher assigned to them. Naturally, this would mean you’re back in the realm of true interactivity. The only problem, of course, is that really you’re back in the realm of standard teaching, with there just happening to be a screen between student and teacher.

Of course, there are other alternatives. The most obvious one being a Wikipedia-style learning app. HiNative has done something like this already, while Memrise offers the chance for users to create their own learning programs as well.

Nobody, to my knowledge, has yet created something like this for video, however. Of course, it would be difficult to guarantee quality and accuracy. If you could find a workaround for that, however, then it would suddenly become possible to crowd source all the different parts of the video.

From there the hard part would be to slot them all together into an understandable whole, with the resulting branching points from the different conversational possibilities logically following from each other.

If that could be pulled off, however, then you could create a truly interactive learning video which would allow users to have conversations that flow almost like a real conversation. And that would allow people to be more engaged and to also naturally come across new ways to say things that they haven’t heard before.

About the writer

Amanda Neatley is a blogger enthusiast. She is a freelance writer who is open to research about new topics and gain new experiences to share with her readers. You can find her on Twitter @amandaneatley and Facebook.

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