In this section, Peter Weise shares his insights about the importance of authentic communication in language-learning.
It’s hard to learn a language online. Anything that is communication-based depends on authentic interactions, and you can’t really do that online. People ask me all the time if purchasing language software will improve their German. Software packages are good for acquiring vocabulary and grammar, but they’re not good for learning a language. You can’t learn a language by just learning vocabulary and grammar. Language needs to be actualized. It needs to be done. You need to practice. You need to make mistakes. You need to get feedback.
That’s why people say that in order to learn a language you have to go to the country where the language is spoken. In that context, you’re forced to use the language 24 hours a day, 7 days week. People give you authentic practice and feedback—and it all hinges on real communication. Online, it’s hard to simulate authentic communication.
For learners finding my course content on MIT OpenCourseWare, I suggest finding native German speakers you can talk to while you use the materials. Make use of complementary technology that allows you to connect with real people, and start communicating!