As an English major who has been a “netizen” for over a year, I find the internet an absolutely indispensable part of my life. Don’t worry. I am not an online game addict. If anything, I am fascinated by online English learning. I am convinced that the internet will have a huge impact on the teaching and learning of foreign languages in China.
In the past, when the internet had yet to be invented, the only access to the latest development in foreign languages came from foreign newspapers and magazines, which were expensive and hard to come by in China. Whereas college students might find them in the reading rooms of their libraries, those who learn English by themselves had little access to them. Today, with the internet, anybody who has access to it could read online foreign newspapers and magazines and visit foreign websites. In this way they will learn how contemporary foreign languages are used by native speakers. Generally speaking, the language used in online resources is up-to-date, idiomatic and covers a wide range of registers. By visiting websites specializing in one’s interest, say computer science, sports or music, one may find language learning is made so much easier because interest serves as the best teacher.
The internet also enables one to exchange emails with foreign friends or chat with them. This greatly boosts one’s interest in language learning because language is used for real-life communication. Whereas most language learners can seldom have face-to-face conversation with foreigners, online chatting may prove to be a good way to learn how now a language is used in daily, informal speech.
Downloading foreign movies and TV programs from the internet is yet another effective aid to language learning. The internet provides a great variety of both the latest blockbusters and classic movie. With special software, netizens can download them at high speed and low cost.
It may be an exaggeration to say that the internet would bring about a revolution in language learning, for it is unlikely to fundamentally change the established approaches, nor could it replace learners’ individual effort. Nevertheless, the internet has greatly changed, and will continue to change, the way to obtain information related to language learning.