The current growth in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) sector, has paved the way for many things, most importantly, distance education. With increased computer power, availability of internet and faster data transfers rates, e-learning has been made easier and more accessible. In sub-Sahara Africa, higher education students are adapting to online learning. It is no surprise as e-learning is one of the most practical and economical methods of expanding linguistic knowledge. However, the main question among potential e-students is; how perfect is Africa for language learning online?
The Major Challenge
Although internet accessibility is a huge obstacle to language learning online in Sub-Saharan region, there is even a more complicated problem of 'many languages.' Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of diversified languages in the world, with over 1,000 different languages spoken.
The mother tongue influence might pose a challenge to online learning in this region, but it is not enough to cripple the whole sector. By improving ICT infrastructure and campaigning for the benefits of m-learning, Sub-Saharan Africa could be perfect for online language learning.
The leap frog effect
Encouraging and practicing online language learning creates a necessity for leapfrogging in the education sector. Leapfrogging is the act of skipping the small, less significant generations of innovations and inventions, straight into the advanced.
Leapfrogging accelerates development in e-learning by passing the less efficient technologies and moving directly to more advanced and accessible modes of online education.
When it comes to the leapfrog effect in sub-Saharan Africa, there is no better example than the mobile phone. The adaptation of the cell has enabled most of the developing countries to skip things like the fixed line generation and the era of big, humped computer.
There are more than half a billion mobile subscribers in Africa. With the youth dominating the statistics and being the largest group of active mobile phone users. What this means is, with more sensitization on the importance and benefits of online language learning, the number of e-students will make a significant increase.
What is better, is the fact that the target audience (youth) for edtech is already conversant with mobile apps. Therefore, making a few improvements in the quality of internet networks and creating awareness is enough for practical delivering of linguistic education to the youth in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Online Language Learning
So, what do we mean when we say that online language learning is perfect in the Sub-Saharan Africa? What does it mean to study languages via the worldwide web?
Online language learning is the mode of acquiring knowledge of and fluency in a certain language, via web tools. It is the process of combining the different available materials on the internet, for the sake of educating oneself, the language of their choice.
Online language learning is the modern, most convenient way of getting to learn any language. For many people, m-learning may be their only chance of ever learning any diversified language. Some will argue that e-learning is not as effective as the traditional methods. However, there are many authentic platforms on the web that offer quality training of different aspects of language, from grammar to spelling and making conversations.
Apps and software that can even be used offline
Online language learning is possible, even if you want to study either for free or offline. Once you download such an app, you can use it at the location of your liking, without necessarily connecting to the internet. Some apps that offer online courses are:
- Duolingo - It is completely free and offers lessons in French, Spanish and other languages.
- Busuu - Offers a variety of languages including Polish, Turkish, Portuguese etc.
- Babbel - It is a quick way to fluently speaking in any new language like Spanish, French, etc.
The main advantage of language learning apps is the fact that you can study and perfect your communication in a new language anywhere and anytime. From the house to a queue, through a bus ride or at a picnic!
In conclusion, online language learning is an ideal way of understanding and achieving fluency in any language, in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is convenient, practical and there is a variety of online courses from which someone can learn and practice.
Jens Ischebeck, African edtech specialist: Website publisher www.apps-for-learning.com.
The website presents and compares e-learning and mobile learning providers with a special focus on the African market. Tags are e-learning, m-learning, online courses (MOOC), medical exam preparations (MCAT & USMLE).
Photo Credits: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine ; Ed Owles, Worldview