Blog of Sara Jakša

Pros and Cons of Group Language Learning

Trying to learn the new language? Most common way for people to do that, is to find a group in college or language schools and enroll in the group learning.

But learning a language in the group have the positive and the negative sides as well. It is not suitable for everyone, but for some people, the pros will far outweigh the cons. But for the others, the cons will be the ones that prevail.

The strongest positive effect of the group learning, in my opinion, is the motivation. Since it is a whole group learning together, they can encourage each other. Or I see that student, that is better than me, and start competing with him (but never telling him). Also, it gives me accountability. If I miss the lesson, the next time somebody was going to ask me, where I was. Also, others will have covered parts of the languages, that I will have no clue about.

The second positive effect is creating habits. In order to get better in language, language has to become a habit. This is one way, how to achieve that. By being the part of the group, I have to use the language, when I show up. It doesn't require any additional investments, but time.

The third positive effect is the breath of the language used. If I am learning in the group, then at least all the basic structures of the language will be covered by the teacher. In comparison of learning alone, where I might miss some.

The fourth positive effect is only for us, introverted ones. It is the easiest way, to find somebody to practice speaking with. Otherwise, even normal energy expanding activity as talking to a person becomes harder, when doing it in a non-fluent language.

But learning in the groups also have some negative effect.

The first one is, that the groups goals might not be the same as that of the individual learner. Maybe I want to learn, how to read that book in the original language, but most of the members want to learn small talk in the foreign language. Or the teacher thinks, that the grammar is the most important part of the language. In that case, the language will most improve in the areas, that are of lesser importance to me.

The second one is the irrelevance of the material. I have experienced, in school and out of school material, that it usually didn't suit my needs. The articles about the environmental change or the conversation about the weather are just not interesting to me (or relevant).

The third one is the pace. The group usually moves as quick as the slowest member. That can mean, that the group will still be repeating stuff, that I had already mastered. Or, if the group does not comply to this dynamics, than the slower members will get frustrated with the speed and give up.

There are a lot of reasons to study in the group settings and to not. To summarise, I would suggest the people, that need guidance or motivation, to study in groups, and independent people, to study on their own.