Language apps are great to start and get passionate about a language that you always wanted to learn, but they will never give you that thrilling connection with a language that only interaction with native speakers can.
German language is infamous for being pretty hard. After all, there is a saying, Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache which literally translates into “German language, a difficult language”. People can easily be scared by the difficulty of a language or by the fact that learning a new language requires constant study, and they are tempted to download one of the many language learning apps that promise fast and fun learning. While there is nothing wrong about getting in touch with a language through an app, it is necessary to note that no app will never make you proficient in any language. And here there are 5 reasons why.
5. They always repeat the same sentences
Learning German with an app is fun and it feels easy, just like playing a game. That is because language apps challenge you through games and rewards, but they don’t really challenge much your brain. In each lesson you will learn 3 or 4 new words, the rest are old words being repeated again and again, in different combination. This method allows you to memorize words permanently without much effort, but it also gives you with very selective vocabulary which may not be enough to go through everyday life. How many apps teach you how to say “Do you accept credit cards?” in German?
4. You can’t go any further than a B1
Most language learning apps are for absolute beginners: they teach you numbers, colours, the names of the most commons animals. Going on with the lessons, you will learn the most common verbs at present tense, past and maybe future, but that is it. Even when you have finished all the classes that your app offers, you will not able to hold a conversation in German (or the language you want to learn). What you have learnt is enough to order food at the restaurant or to find the next train station, but if your dream is to start a new life abroad then you are just at the beginning.
3. There is not enough grammar
Unfortunately, grammar is the fundament of any language and you have to learn it. German has a pretty strict grammar and it is almost impossible to understand it if you are only relying on your phone. In fact, language apps usually offer you the most common grammar rules or charts which sum up entire concepts. Charts are useful to revise but useless when you’re facing for the first time a complicated topic as German adjective declension can be! Moreover, every language has exception to rules and language apps rearely provide answers to your grammar doubts.
2. You are not really independent
The most used language apps seem to offer a well-rounded set of exercises: matching of pictures and names, translating sentences, hearing and repeating or writing what the metallic voice says. Unfortunately all this exercises are passive, they are just being served to you. The learner needs to be involved in bi-directional relationship with a teacher or a class. Apps user are not actively stimulated, and they end up being good in theory but not in practice. Imagine being in Germany and you wanna say something to a native; you know the words you need but you are not able to structure a sentence because your brain never got trained to do it. To actively practise a language is crucial: after all, why are we learning a new language if not to communicate with people?
1. Lack of culture
The most exciting part about learning a new language is to share traditions, thoughts, cultural beliefs and maybe to debunk some stereotypes. The real reward is not collecting points or lingots but to be able to make new friends, to understand the radio or read the newspapers.
We can help
Language learning app are not all bad. They do work, and they are useful to build vocabulary, but If you are serious about learning German you need to invest in a language class. For example, you can come by Berlino Schule. We offer intensive or evening classes for all levels, from A2 to C1. Our classes are held by professional teacher, the participants are max 15 in order to offer the best learning experience. You will meet new people and you will learn and practice your German without any embarrassment. We are all here to learn.
You can find the Italian version of this article here.
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