Online Learning Brings Difficulties for Learning Foreign Languages

Learning foreign languages has its difficulties and challenges. But when it comes to learning a foreign language online, how are students impacted by it?


Learning online and over Zoom can be difficult for most people, especially when you’re learning a foreign language online. 

“For me so far learning online has been really hard. I’m learning Japanese, which is very different from English and it’s super difficult to learn things online and even more so to retain them,” sophomore Aran Denis said.

Online learning is very different from in-person learning, so it’s not surprising that students find it difficult to learn online.

“Well it’s agonizing honestly. Obviously it’s difficult to get into the right headspace at home to learn anything virtually” freshman Kelin Llamas said, “And it’s even more difficult with foreign languages because you’re learning something so complicated in a way that you aren’t accustomed to.”

Learning languages online can be difficult due to lack of motivation, having a short attention span, and overall not being able to process the information given. With these factors, It’s important to think about how students are managing their grades.

“I’ve been having to work harder to keep it steady,” Denis said. 

Students usually have to put more effort into doing their work online, and the lack of motivation doesn’t help this either. 

“My grade in Spanish has dropped by 3 percent because of online school,” Llamas said.

Every language comes with its own difficulties when learning it, especially online. Every kid will experience something different when it comes to what language they’re taking.

“There’s so much to focus on with the writing systems, vocab, and grammar. Between the three, grammar has been the hardest,” Denis said.

With online learning, learning languages gets more difficult. Whether it’s with processing the information or just not being able to understand virtually. 

“When you’re really immersed in the class and having fun, it’s a lot easier to memorize vocab through daily practice. But you can’t really achieve that via virtual learning,” Llamas said.

Students aren’t the only ones being affected by doing languages online, teachers also have their fair share of challenges with online learning.

Online school has both good and bad sides to it, which is why there will always be pros and cons with doing online learning.

“I’ve learned more about what can be done effectively online, and what can’t be,” Chinese teacher, Jason Loose said.

Teaching a language online will almost always have more difficulty than teaching a language in-person. 

“I think the single most important factor in language learning is community. You need to feel invested in the community of people you’re learning the language with” Mr. Loose said, “And when you’re online, you can still build that sense of community, but it won’t match what it’s like to be in person.”

Some teachers may be getting used to online learning, but there will always be inconveniences, whether they’re big or small. 

“Some aspects of language teaching are easier online. Reviewing vocabulary, providing feedback on written work, and helping students engage with authentic media can all be done more effectively than in person,” Mr. Loose said.

Although online learning seems unbearable and difficult, there are some good things about it.

Many teachers teach differently in-person than how they teach online because of the restrictions you have with online school. This can cause teaching a language online to be less effective for students compared to when they’re in-person.

“It’s overall less effective, for now. I’ve found that I need to scale back the expectations for learning outcomes, and that’s not the students’ fault– it’s just part of the way things are right now,” Mr. Loose said.

Online learning has impacted language learners and language teachers in different ways. Many peoples’ learning processes are different thanks to online learning. As time goes on, we all hope that learning online will become easier until we’re able to return back to school.