One thing that often kills motivation in learning a new language, let’s say, English, is the doubt about the usefulness of the language. And, whether it’s worth it to invest so much time and money in the process.
“What if I never find a chance to use English? What if I never need to speak the language in real life?” Many times, I have seen how these sorts of thoughts have pulled the language learning process to a full stop. Of course, those negative thoughts are not true, and learning a widely-spoken language like English will definitely be useful in your everyday life. But, how can we prevent those sorts of thoughts?
My best advice: use English to learn something else. This way you invest your time and efforts into two different projects, and the chance that one of them will be fruitful at least doubles.
What else should I learn by learning English?
The sky is the limit. With millions of web pages, videos and interactive tutorials out there, you can learn almost anything that you want by following the tutorials. So, learn something related to computers and programming.
First, there’s a great chance that you will need computers in your everyday life and career. Second, because the original language in computer science is English, you will always see the highest-quality learning materials available in English.
Have you tried this yourself?
Yes. I started to learn programming in high school, and at the time I knew some basic English. I had a love for programming but the books were in English, and the translations into my mother tongue were not readable. So, I started to learn programming by English books, and then watching English video tutorials. And now, I’m both a programmer and a language teacher.
What should my English level be?
I say A2 is high enough for this purpose. If you can read the English alphabet, and use a dictionary, that's usually enough to get going. Of course, it gets easier with higher levels of English, but it's doable at any level. It just might require investing more time.
How to get started?
First, decide what you want to learn. My suggestion? Go for web design and web programming-related topics. Not only might they come very handy, as web design is in great demand. But, it’s generally easy to get started in this area.
OK, let’s get started!
Now that you have decided to improve your English language skills by learning about web technologies, we can move to see what’s offered online. I only focus on courses that are available for free. Here comes the list of web courses that you can both learn to create websites and improve your English.
Codecademy is the best place to get started. It offers free coding classes in six different programming languages. All the courses are interactive online courses. Until January, 2014, about 24 million users have used Codecademy. If you are new to computer programming, start with their HTML Fundamentals course. It teaches how to make simple web pages.
From there, navigation is easy; simply visit their website and start learning. There’s no software installation required, as everything happens in the browser. How can it help you learn English? Codecademy courses are good for improving your reading and comprehension skills because, basically, you read and follow instructions, which are all written in English. You can also practice your writing skills by joining the discussions in the forums.
Also, subscribe to their free email newsletter where you will read about people who have done something notable using what they have learned from Codecademy courses.
Udacity offers many great courses, with university standards. Although it charges students if they need certain features, you can enjoy all their courses for free if you don’t need those features. The good thing about Udacity is that all the courses come with video lectures. So you can improve not only your reading and writing, but also your listening skills.
If you are new to computer sciences, take their Introduction to Computer Sciences course. It gives you a good introduction to computer sciences. You can go through the videos, do the exercises, ask your questions on the forum.
Udemy also offers lots of useful courses. The good thing about Udemy is the variety of courses that you can find there. It’s not all about computer sciences, and many of the courses are user-created. Not all the courses are available for free, but there are plenty of free ones to pick from. So just go there and take a look.
Hero Image by Matthew (WMF) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons