While online learning was once considered supplemental or a last resort for people who didn’t have direct access to a classroom situation, technology and techniques have progressed so much that an online education has not only become a viable alternative to traditional schooling but, in many cases, the preferred one.

Still, everyone learns in different ways. For some, the flexibility of an online class is exactly what they need to push themselves to their limits or to slow down and really master a certain aspect of a second language.

Others relish the social setting of a classroom where everyone is working toward a common goal and sharing stories about their own experiences. They need the set structure to make sure that they constantly progress and meet their goals.

So, in other words, when you’re learning a second language, there are benefits and drawbacks to both online and classroom learning.

Deciding which is the right option for you will depend highly on your own learning style and what you want to accomplish.

Online Learning Pros

Modern methodologies can actually help online learning emulate the in-person experience. More importantly, there are several distinct benefits associated with choosing to learn Arabic online.

  1. Flexibility in coursework – This is particularly important for people who are trying to get some education around a full or part time job or trying to balance work, family life, and school. You can fit your coursework into your schedule when you have time.
  2. Flexibility in communication opportunities – 1-on-1 interactions with instructors create new opportunities to get immediate feedback on your speaking abilities. These interactions can also be set up to fit your busy schedule.
  3. Work at your own pace – You can choose to really focus on those areas that give you the most trouble so you can master every part of the language and not feel like you’re being left behind.
  4. Cost effective – Since there are no overhead costs for things like room and board, parking, books, and other attendance fees, students often find online learning to be more affordable.
  5. Not limited to location – You may not be in commuting distance from a school. That’s not a problem when your lessons are delivered anywhere you have an internet connection.

Online Learning Drawbacks

While there are a wide range of great benefits to learning a language online, the simple fact is that this isn’t necessarily the best option for every student. Everyone learns differently, and that means there are some drawbacks that you should consider.

  1. Staying motivated – Much of the motivation to stick with the language will be up to you. (Unless you’re learning Arabic as a family.) No one else is going to make sure your get everything done. No one else is going to remind you about your assignments. It’s all on you.
  2. Staying focused – If you do not have a dedicated learning space in your home, or if you’re not accustomed to carefully managing your time, you may discover a lot of distractions while you’re trying to study.
  3. Interacting with others – Studying as a group in an online setting means you never know when you will get responses from the others. This means it may not have the same social feeling as learning in a classroom.

Of course, learning in a traditional setting also has its own list of pros and cons.

Classroom Learning Pros

  1. Learning with others – Some students are more interested in learning when they’re surrounded by fellow learners. They feel more motivated and get the chance to practice their language with the person sitting next to them.
  2. Direct, face-to-face learning – Your instructor is right there, available to answer questions and provide direct feedback, which can seem more personal than over a video chat.
  3. Structured learning – The routine of attending classes every week can help students stay on track and meet their goals.
  4. No tech breakdowns – You don’t have to worry about technology or internet hiccups getting in the way of your education.

Classroom Learning Drawbacks

  1. Not much flexibility – You will be required to meet on the school’s schedules because the classes will be taught at certain times.
  2. Strict curriculum – The classes will continue according to the curriculum, whether you’re understanding all the new information or not.
  3. Divided attention – If someone else in class is more needy and constantly demands the instructor’s attention, it will be more difficult for them to make sure every student gets the same amount of help.

Specialized Classroom Learning

Let’s also make one other alternative and its potential benefits: classroom learning set in special locations. This option can really boost your Arabic language abilities.

At Arab Academy we offer a classroom-based program right in Cairo.

This is an opportunity to surround yourself day in and day out (as in, not just in the classroom) with the language. Cairo is an amazing place to practice your Arabic, and it’s the kind of thing that can really kick your language skills up a notch or two.

Learning the language in school is great. Learning it over the internet is also very effective when you are working with the highly developed Arabic coursework. However, there really is no other experience quite like learning the language in the country where it is spoken.