But is that really the only way to reach your goals?
The answer is simple: definitely not! Luckily, technological advances have given us the opportunity to learn through great software that offers students time, flexibility, and an endless amount of information.
Language learning software is a great innovation, but as with any other product, it's a good idea to do some research before making a purchase. By considering everything that is needed to learn a language quickly and effectively, it's possible to develop a list of the top characteristics needed for the ideal language learning software.
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Let's take a look at some characteristics of the best language learning software.
No great achievement ever happens overnight, and learning Japanese is no different. In order to learn Japanese fast, you first need to make smart, realistic goals to help yourself organize your time and plan your studies.
Your Japanese language learning software should help you do this by allowing you to set measurable daily goals and track your progress.
It should provide an easy-to-use structure that helps you to achieve SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals.
The more motivated you are to learn Japanese, the easier, more fun and faster it will be to learn it. Your language learning software should help you to stay motivated.
The best language learning software should be interactive, fun, engaging, and maybe even a little competitive to help keep you motivated. Ideally, it should include a way to connect with other learners (like a forum) to share in your language learning adventure.
Connecting and communicating with others is a great way to keep you motivated and accountable for your language learning progress. It's also very important that your software tracks your progress so you can see how much you've improved, which will help to keep you motivated, dedicated, and on the right track.
Learning Japanese is a never-ending task. It’s essential to set goals from the very beginning so you can better measure your achievements and avoid any possible frustrations.
The ideal software should break down the process of studying Japanese into different levels so you always know where you're at.
One of the greatest contributions of computer-based learning is that you no longer need be in a classroom to interact with and listen to others speaking Japanese. The ideal Japanese learning software should provide you with a variety of engaging, interactive activities that help you improve your listening and speaking skills.
A language-oriented forum or chat is also a great idea when it comes to encouraging you to interact and put what you’ve learned into practice.
Every student is different. Learning Japanese is not the same for a native Chinese speaker with a foreign language background as it is for a native English speaker who's new to the language learning scene.
Similarly, a student whose goal is to travel to Japan with her family won’t need to study in the same way as a student whose goal it is to work in a Japanese company.
Language learning software should be adaptable to any situation and allow learners to manage their own learning process according their needs and learning styles. It should provide a wide variety of activities and have flexibility to suit student's goals, mood, and energy level as they study.
The best Japanese learning software should help you to learn vocabulary, grammar, and culture while listening, speaking, reading and writing. None of these elements should be neglected, and there should be a balanced amount of each.
Ideally, there should be voice recognition technology to help you practice speaking, as well as interactive listening, reading, and writing lessons.
Vocabulary should be presented in context and you should be able to study it with tools that allow for its repetition, such as flash cards or your own personalized online notebook.
It's amazing how many language learning programs avoid explaining grammar topics and neglect teaching culture, and I can't emphasize the importance of these two topics enough.
The majority of language learners don't just want to memorize words and sentences, but want (and need) to know the grammatical rules to be able to form their own sentences. Language and culture go hand-in-hand, and understanding a country's culture can help you to better understand and appreciate the language.
Make sure that your language learning software explains grammar and teaches culture.
Quality is not an option when it comes to learning Japanese. Studying a language is a time-consuming and tricky process, and you should be able to take advantage of the best possible tools.
That's why language learning software isn’t something you want to buy at the dollar store during your lunch break. Make sure the program you choose is filled with audiovisual and written content and gives you all the necessary tools to succeed.
When it comes to learning languages, it's worth investing a little extra to have high-quality materials that you can use for every aspect of the learning process.
Who wants to learn how to say “My tailor is rich” in Japanese? If you hardly ever say that in your native language, why should those be your first words in Japanese? Unfortunately, a lot of language learning software don't take into account the practicality of the vocabulary you're learning.
The best language learning software should teach the most practical words and structures first. Many studies have proven that we only need about 5% of the words present in a language to be able to interact in 95% of all situations. The ideal language learning software would take advantage of this by helping you to reach fluency the practical way: learning the most practical and frequently used words, phrases, and grammar first.
You won't be a Japanese beginner forever, and the ideal language learning software should include all levels according to a measurable scale, from beginner to advanced.
It should also keep in mind that we all learn differently, and should cater to as many different learning styles as possible. That means that lessons in all topics should include a variety of visual, audio, verbal, logical, and even physical activities to help everyone to learn.
The biggest advantage of Japanese learning software is that it's flexible. **The best language learning software should be accessable online from any computer, without the inconvenience of having to carry around those heavy old textbooks!.
If the software has an app, even better! This will allow you to study anytime, anywhere.
There are 2 common pricing structures with software:
a recurring monthly subscription, whereby you get access until you stop paying (this is known as SaaS, "Software as a Service"); or,
a one-off lump sum.
If you do purchase something at a one-off price, make sure that future upgrades are included. If you get a new device then you want to make sure that your software will work on it!
Now that you have a checklist for what to look for in a Japanese learning software, all that's left to do is search online for a software that best fits you. But before spending time browsing through Google, don’t forget to take a look at the Rocket Languages Courses!
Sayaka Matsuura: Rocket Japanese