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Online or Offline: How to Choose the Best Format for Learning English?

Online or Offline: How to Choose the Best Format for Learning English?

Examining the pros and cons of both learning methods in today's world.

The popularity of English continues to grow worldwide. As an international language, it opens up a sea of opportunities and prospects in various fields, including career advancement, education abroad, immigration, and travel.

If you're serious about mastering English, you've probably considered enrolling in language courses. But which ones should you choose? Today, the range of English courses has expanded: traditional classroom teaching is now complemented by online classes.

Distance learning gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were forced into quarantine and had to move all their activities online. Of course, online classes and courses had been available before, but they weren't as widespread and common. During the pandemic, almost everyone got to experience remote study or work. Moreover, after the pandemic, many people continued to take advantage of technology and the ability to study and work from home.

Now, when choosing courses, we consider not only the quality of teaching, materials, and knowledge offered but also which format is more preferable and effective — online or offline? There are ardent supporters of both formats. Some resist new technologies and possibilities, insisting that everything should remain as it was before, while others protest against returning to the old format, which seems outdated and old-fashioned to them.

The truth is, both online and offline learning have their pros and cons. It's essential to familiarize yourself with these to decide which weighs more in your case. After all, everyone is unique and has different goals.

Online learning: advantages

The development of modern technology has inevitably led to changes in teaching systems and methods. Online classes have brought more flexibility and convenience to people's lives. Online courses are no longer surprising as they've become the "new norm". But what makes distance learning so attractive?

  • The ability to learn from anywhere. The main and most obvious advantage of online learning is the ability to gain knowledge regardless of location. New technologies allow learning from anywhere in the world. If previously students had to interrupt their studies during travel or business trips, now learning can be continuous regardless of circumstances. Students can take lessons right from home or a hotel, without being tied to a specific address.
  • Flexible schedule and learning pace. Online learning offers much more freedom in choosing class schedules. It's now possible to adjust your class schedule according to your needs. Moreover, students can more effectively manage their learning pace, which is one of the key aspects of learning English. Distance learning allows revising previously studied materials, delving deeper into specific aspects, and studying topics more consistently.
  • Access the best schools and teachers. Since students are not tied to a specific place and time for classes, they have more options. Now, the search for the best English language school and suitable courses is not limited to your city — learners have access to the whole world. Unique courses, top teachers, native speakers, and authentic materials become available to everyone.
  • New learning tools. Online learning actively uses the most modern and diverse educational tools. In addition to traditional textbooks, notebooks, and blackboards, teachers use videos, podcasts, interactive boards, and many other electronic resources that can be downloaded, stored on your device, and always kept at hand.
  • Saving money. Online learning helps reduce unnecessary expenses for students. There's no need to pay for commuting from home to the classroom or purchasing expensive textbooks. Also, online teaching can affect the cost of courses, as the school providing the services doesn't have to spend extra money on renting premises.

Online learning: disadvantages

Despite the obvious advantages, distance learning has its pitfalls, which should also be taken into account before deciding if this format suits you.

  • Lack of personal interaction. The main drawback of online learning is considered to be the lack of personal contact with the teacher and classmates. Due to the lack of communication, including informal interactions before or after classes, and insufficient sense of community, online students may feel isolated. However, many schools strive to support social interaction between students through informal discussions or by creating common groups in messengers.
  • Time management issues. If a student lacks good time management skills and self-discipline, this can create certain problems when learning a foreign language remotely. For some, the absence of attachment to a specific place and schedule can lead to a less responsible approach to lessons, class skipping, and failure to regularly do homework.
  • Loss of motivation. This problem stems from the two mentioned above. Since online learning largely takes place independently and in solitude, it can result in a quicker loss of motivation. This can also be contributed to blurred learning boundaries and the absence of clear temporal and spatial frames. In this aspect, the teacher's ability to push their students during remote interaction will play a big role, as well as the students' ability to maintain motivation when learning English.
  • Technical problems. Unfortunately, online learning is highly dependent on technical capabilities. First of all, students must have a good internet connection for uninterrupted access to online classes and materials. This can be a problem for some remote regions where the internet connection is neither stable nor fast. In addition, software incompatibility or sudden computer laptop breakdowns can be an obstacle.
  • Screen time and sedentary lifestyle. Online classes can be an additional burden for those who already spend a lot of time in front of their device screens. Prolonged sitting at a computer can negatively affect health and well-being, making it unsuitable for some people. The solution to this problem can be strict regulation of work and study time at the computer and breaks for physical activity.

Online study vs Offline study

Classroom learning: advantages

In turn, traditional offline classes offer a number of advantages that are not available in remote sessions.

  • Fewer distractions. Unfortunately, during online classes, students tend to get distracted much more than in an offline classroom. The classroom atmosphere is focused exclusively on learning, so students are less likely to be distracted by work messages or apps always available in neighboring tabs during online lessons.
  • Support from the teacher and classmates. With personal interaction, students can clarify controversial points on the spot, get clearer and quicker feedback from the teacher, and ask direct questions to their classmates.
  • Competitive spirit. This aspect also becomes more pronounced in offline group learning, as students observe the success and progress of their classmates firsthand. Using other students as a benchmark can significantly increase motivation for achieving personal success in language learning.
  • Interaction with other students. Personal communication helps strengthen connections and develop new skills in interaction. Offline English learning can apply methods of pair work, role-playing games, and group projects. At the same time, live communication not only contributes to gaining knowledge but also helps develop communication skills.
  • Extracurricular activities. For many, a plus of taking courses in the classroom is not only learning the language but also communicating with like-minded people, including outside of classes. In addition, attending offline classes helps change the environment, switch attention, and make new useful connections.

Classroom learning: disadvantages

Despite all the advantages, the downside of classroom lessons can serve as a strong argument in favor of online lessons.

  • Time and money costs. If the courses attended are not within walking distance, classroom lessons can become too resource-intensive. In addition to transportation costs, snacks, and stationery, students face a loss of time, which may be a too valuable resource for some.
  • Dependence on the teacher. When enrolling in offline courses, students rely on the teacher who will conduct classes in the chosen group. But if the teacher doesn't suit the student, it may be more difficult to change them offline than in online classes.
  • Lack of individual learning mode. Each student has their own pace of mastering the material, but in a group, they have to adhere to the general progress. This can cause difficulties in mastering a specific topic or skill, for which the program allocates the same time for everyone.
  • Inability to revisit material. A missed class in the classroom can greatly affect overall progress, as it's more difficult to return to the studied material than when studying online, where all sources and guides are stored electronically. Thus, missing a class equals missed knowledge.
  • Traditional teaching methods. Unfortunately, many classroom lessons rely more on traditional teaching methods than online lessons. Additionally, not all classrooms may be equipped with the most modern equipment allowing the use of a variety of learning tools.

How not to make a mistake in choosing?

So, it's obvious that both online and offline classes have their advantages and disadvantages. In the end, it all comes down to the student's choice, their interests, capabilities, and individual preferences.

Of course, many of the listed disadvantages are only potential risks. Qualified English language schools and experienced teachers are well aware of them and improve their programs and methods to avoid all negative effects. Therefore, special attention should be paid to which language school you choose.

We highly recommend the Canadian English language school ILAC. This is a world-renowned educational institution that offers a huge variety of various English courses both online and offline — in the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver.

ILAC is distinguished by a high level of teaching and adherence to all the most modern educational methodologies. ILAC courses are suitable for students with various language levels and prepare for general English programs, preparation for international language tests, admission to foreign universities, and business communication.
We are partners with ILAC, and by enrolling through us, you will get the most favorable learning conditions. Studying at ILAC guarantees you the development of all necessary language skills in the shortest possible time and success in the most ambitious goals of learning English.

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