February 01, 2010

Web-based language tools

The Web Way to Learn a Language

By Eric A. TaubWith the growth of broadband connectivity and social networks, companies have introduced a wide range of Internet-based language learning products, both free and fee-based, that allow students to interact in real time with instructors in other countries, gain access to their lesson plans wherever they are in the world, and communicate with like-minded virtual pen pals who are also trying to remember if bambino means baby.

Learning a language sometimes seems as difficult as dieting. The solution is to figure out how to stay interested after the novelty wears off.

To counter boredom, online language programs have introduced crossword puzzles, interactive videos and other games to reward users for making progress.

Online courses are either fee-based, free or a combination. Starter kits of fee-based programs may cost just a few hundred dollars, but the cost to reach higher levels of comprehension and speaking can easily be $1,000.

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