Studying through accredited online college-level foreign language courses may seem like the choice if you're too busy to attend on-campus classes or you aren't located near a large university. However, learning a foreign language online can be tougher in some cases than learning in person. You aren't likely to have as much exposure to a native-speaking instructor and you may not be able to get as much conversation practice if you decide to take an online class.
There are some special considerations to keep in mind as you search for language courses online.
- Availability: If you're looking for classes in Spanish, French, or German, you'll likely have a healthy selection online. But if you're trying to learn a language that's a bit less common, such as Kiswahili or a Slavic language, you may not have as large of a catalog of choices or even any choice at all.
- Quality: Just because a program is accredited does not mean it fulfills your personal criteria or meets the standards you're seeking. Before you enroll for any accredited online college-level foreign language course, do your research. Talk with past students, read the literature for the program, and chat with instructors to gauge whether the class is right for you.
- Work: A distance learning foreign language class is likely to be just as demanding as an on-site class would be, so prepare to set aside significant time in your schedule to do the work. Learning another language requires constant practice. You'll have to put in plenty of effort if you expect to do well.
- Supplementing: In many cases, you'll learn a new language better if you have more resources at your disposal. If your program doesn't hook you up with a language partner with whom you can practice conversing, consider finding your own. You can rely on friends who know your target language and have time to help you, or you can search for a partner online or in a classified ad in your local newspaper.
Powerspeak, previously known as Power-Glide, has a number of foreign language programs that are accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities. Although the company doesn't make any courses that are exclusively for college students, its high-school-level programs are suitable for college study and can often be used for credit in universities. Powerspeak offers beginner- and intermediate-level language courses in German, Latin, and Chinese for older students and beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses in French and Spanish. Recognizing the difficulty that students have in picking up foreign language skills without an attentive instructor, powerspeak offers the option of one-on-one certified instructor support for students who pay an additional fee. Program prices vary.
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University's online German program is accredited by the Higher Learning Comissions (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The program offers courses from German I through AP German, targeted to high school students but also available to current college students who may be able to receive credit for the courses. Each course includes weekly phone conversations with a tutor. The courses use streaming audio and video, computer exercises, and animated content as educational resources.
Unfortunately, there are very few accredited options available in foreign language courses for college students or college-level learners. If you're seeking a class that may not be available, try talking with local university faculty to see if you could attend some language classes on-site and do other work from home or participate in any pilot online classes that they may be offering. It's also an option to take a foreign language course that is not accredited to pick up basic skills and prepare yourself for a time when you may be able to enroll in an on-site class.