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Language Learning with an App or a Real Teacher - Comparison 2020

12/10/2020
objavil Patrick Breitenstein
Jezik: EN

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The number of language apps on the european and international market has exploded. In which case an adult should learn a language via an app and in which case with a real person, this question is going to be further analyzed in this post so that you can give a professional recommendation

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Different language learning methods

A quick introduction to the different language learning methods.

Generally, there are two ways of learning a language

  1. Learn it by yourself 
  2. Learn it from another person 

Learning it by yourself can vary from learning via an application on the smartphone to reading a grammar book in the library. 

When adults choose to learn it from another person the methods can also vary from a single tutoring lesson on their coach to a language course in a professional facility.

In this article, we are going to compare the learning method with an application on the phone against learning with a real person, while it doesn’t matter if the lesson takes place in a facility, on the sofa, or even via video chat. 

Benefits of the autodidactic learning style via App

One of the main reasons why apps are doing so well is the infinite amount of availability. You can access it from everywhere and whenever you like to. Another beneficial point about learning via an app is pricing. Sure enough, not everybody is willing to pay hundreds of euros for a professional teacher ar language course. Pricing is in all apps pretty similar in this niche which costs around 10€ per month

Depending on the app the functions vary pretty much. Applications like Rosetta Stone for example offer a language recognition system. While they completely let away the actual translations into the mother language, which should help the learner to understand the language in a very natural process, similar to the learning process of children. Other applications like Mondly show you the translations but lack a voice recognition system (Information form Oktober 2020). 

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Benefits of the taught learning style of a real person

The main difference between an application and a real person is the individuality and the ability to focus on problem fields. A real person unlike any app can teach the language with a personal note and own experiences. This makes the lesson usually more interesting and engaging for adults. 

The communicative part of a real person can’t be ignored either. With a professional or even a private teacher, you will be able to have real conversations which is of course one of the main reasons why a person would learn a language in the first place. A teacher can analyze the weaknesses of the learner still far better than any app on the market. Therefore the learning progress in an actual one-to-one lesson is significantly higher. 

With new platforms like Preply or italki the actual price of a private language teacher has dropped significantly due to the new technology and the saving of driving costs.

When to recommend which style

Due to the higher costs of a professional teacher or course, many people tend to start learning with an app and get frustrated if they don’t actually see the progress which they want. That’s why money should not be the only thing that needs to be considered. In some cases, it is worth it to save those 10-15€ per month and buy at the end of the year a group course for 100-200€

A far more important matter is the actual reason to learn a language. Apps are a great tool to start with some basic vocabulary in any language. But the expectations need to be right from the start. While buying an app and learning half an hour per day one can not hope to speak fluently in 6 months. 

For adults with huge time pressure, an app is not recommended. These adults should look into intensive language courses or one-to-one lessons with an experienced language teacher. 

For adults who want to learn a language as a hobby, a learning app can be a good starting point to build up some basics and if the interest is still high after a few months a switch to an actual person is still recommended to become fluent and secure in the particular language. 


About the author

Portrait of Patrick Breitenstein

After many years of experience in professional tutoring for children, students, and adults. Patrick Breitenstein BSc. has decided to found an online learning platform (Tutor Boost). This online tutoring platform provides education in various subjects and languages for all ages manly for the german speaking market but not only. Since then he also started to write an online magazine about learning, how to learn better, and similar topics to further pursue his passion. He is also a learning coach himself who can be booked for single coaching sessions to increase the learning performance in all areas of life. Through EPALE he is looking forward to contributing knowledge and research to a professional learning community. His expertise ranges from learning to learning online or learn motivation and all topics related to those.
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