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Can You Really Learn Russian from an App?

I love language learning apps. Language learning apps are very popular at the moment and you can find a wide range of them in the app stores such as Duolingo, Memrise, or Babbel. But can people really learn to speak, read and write the Russian language effectively from just an app?

It seems that the latest research shows that language learning apps are most effective when used to learn Russian alongside some formal Russian lessons at the same time. Most people’s motivation for using a language app is because of travel, career or they want to live abroad. Obviously these three examples require three different levels of language competency. Can these all be achieved by the use of a language learning app?

Research says that the average user uses their language learning app for about 15 minutes per day and about 3 times per week.  Russian is a Level 4 language and requires around 1100 hours of practise to develop a professional level of language competency. Using the app for 15 minutes per day, 3 times per week - it would take you 28 years to learn to speak, read and write Russian.  Obviously, this is not ideal if you plan to work or study in the Russian language any time soon.

The latest apps are great for helping you to memorise words, phrases and perhaps get you used to certain rules of grammar. However, what you miss is the human interaction part of any language learning experience. But the human aspect also has a downside, and apps help with this too.

One of the great benefits of learning from an app is that you are not ashamed of your mistakes. A lot of people really struggle learning when their failures are public. In a formal classroom setting, you have to struggle in front of other people, and you have to fail in front of other people. This leads to a level of performance anxiety for almost all language learners.

This means that Russian teachers should assign work with apps to their students to work on the things they are likely to struggle with - such as grammar! The stuff that needs people to repeatedly work on something until the way of thinking or language rules are memorised, the app works perfectly for this situation.

So, yes, you can learn words and phrases and you can learn and practise the rules of grammar by App. Apps will be particularly helpful for this kind of thing. But where you need a classroom or a russian language tutor is the human interaction element of language learning.

Apps are also a little more fun, easier to just pull out your phone and just do some practise. However, if you really want to learn a language, you need to be immersed into it, and that means more than just 15 minutes every now and again. It also means structured learning, with songs, films, poems, and Russian culture too.

Yes, please do use an app, but if you really want to learn the Russian language, try a 1-2-1 Skype session with me, we’ll even use an app too.

Until next time


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