Advantages and disadvantages of each of the six types of beginner courses:
1) Text, audio, or video explanations:
+ Plenty of variety, usually free, and easy to use. – Quality is variable. Remembering what is taught is usually left to the learner. Videos and podcasts can be slower.
2) Teach-yourself books:
+ Courses are usually complete and good quality – Sometimes rely on ineﬀective grammar exercises. Not very interactive.
3) Online courses:
+ Often the highest quality, interactive, and can provide the full set of resources a learner needs. – Can be pricey, but generally worth investing in, if you are feeling committed
4) Listen-and-repeat courses:
+ Very good at helping you start to speak, get a feel for the language, and remember and use lots of useful words and constructions – Not well-rounded. Use as a supplement only.
+ Help students stay motivated. Teachers can provide correction and language feedback. – Costly. Can be a slow way of learning the language if lessons are not frequent.
+ Very powerful method. Can provide correction and language feedback. – Multiple lessons are very costly. Often only used as a supplement for this reason.
The beneﬁts of listen-and-repeat courses
Listen-and-repeat courses are perfect for people who are travelling soon and need tourist phrases as well as anyone that doesn’t have a lot of time to study at their desk. They’re also great at building conﬁdence speaking early-on in a low-pressure environment—an important aspect often missing in traditional courses.
If your focus is on communicating, listen-and-repeat courses are recommended. Because they are so specialised, I advise using them as a supplement only. If you are less interested in communicating, consider these optional.
The beneﬁts of using tutors
Tutors are one of the best supplementary resources as they can structure learning to your preference.
Tutors are expensive, so using one simply to explain the basics to you is not the best use of your money. Any information they give you will also be freely available on YouTube or another website. Remember: learning is a fundamentally internal process—you still need to put in hard work regardless of the source.
Using tutors as a source of input and to identify errors and provide correction is generally a much more productive use of your money.
You can ﬁnd tutors in real life, through your local community, library, or university. Expert tutors are also available 24/7 online in our app.