The Online Transformation of Learning Languages

Jan 6, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

While study abroad is widely considered one of the best ways to learn language, millions of students around the world lack the opportunity—and the finances.  What do students do instead?  The next best thing; they learn language online.  With a plethora of apps for both iOs and Android users, language schools abroad are angling for a corner of the online market—and they’re succeeding. 

Brick-and-mortar language schools across the globe are making themselves marketable online by offering online courses, hybrid courses, and apps of their own.  Consider the UK’s online learning consortium Epigeum; they offer and English for Academic Studies program, designed in collaboration with 25 institutions of higher education from the UK, Australia, and seven other countries. 

Peru’s popular El Sol Escuela de Español offers traditional courses at its base in Lima, and also its innovative Web Spanish program.  Fast becoming the industry standard for language schools around the world, Web Spanish, founded in 2005, has its own distinct curriculum, teaching staff, and clientele. 

Vancouver’s Canadian College of English Language offers another example of traditional language school with a powerful online presence.  They developed a program called Smrt English, a paperless, English-learning program licensed to partner institutions in Mexico, Brazil, China, and Saudi Arabia.  Smrt English currently has 90,000 students at 170 institutions—and preparing for wider global reach.  

Exciting times for online language!  As students embrace online studies for language learning, professional and educational opportunities for multi-lingual students will increase—and the field of online language learning will evolve, deepen, and expand to accommodate the growing demand for world language.  


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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