Shockingly, just 3.6% of the foreign language market is digital - the rest is paper and classroom, so naturally the future holds a lot of digitalization in language learning.

The Future of FLS -the Future of Learning

The truth is that foreign language learning is not going anywhere in the foreseeable future - in fact it’s growing. Currently, more than a billion people study English alone and the number is expected to get to 2 billion by 2030. The questions we ask are the following:

  • Will recent trends diminish the role of foreign language schools?
  • Can digital tools replace the language teacher?

By Anastasia Spyropoulou - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shockingly, just 3.6% of the foreign language market is digital - the rest is paper and classroom, so naturally the future holds a lot of digitalization in language learning. Apart from many new digital curricula (like DuoLingo, Babbel), here are a few directions in which language education will change in the coming decades:

  • A lot of classrooms will get online. Teachers are invaluable for learning languages - but they don’t need to be physically in the same room. Rosetta Stone is already doing this, quite successfully.
  • Virtual contact with native speakers - that’s also becoming a standard practice; Live Mocha and Busuu have 40 million users.
  • Artificial conversation partners - a proficient speaker that’s always available, fine-tuned to be knowledgeable in your areas of interest. That’s a little bit further into the future.
  • More gamified and adaptive techniques, which will rely on the usual combination of deductive (focus on form) and inductive (focus on meaning) modes of language learning. Methodologies are already pretty set and well developed.


Distance Learning

While there may be a move to do more distance and remote learning, this has limits based on reasons for learning a language, motivation and application in real life.  Distance learning for a language when you’re already in an immersion environment is not likely to be desirable. If you’re not going to use the language immediately and readily and often, then it may be desirable to have this option but nothing will improve conversational language skills like daily practice with different speakers and in person.

Internet Resources

Many learners say they learn more from Internet sources than in classrooms. They learn not with traditional methods but by watching foreign movies, listening to foreign music, etc. If this practice spreads, there will be limited demand for textbook-based language classes. There will also be limited demand for textbook-based content. There will be demand for tailor-made content that comes to your smartphone in a form of a fancy application. There is just too much of a commercial interest behind it.

Yes, there will still be «innovative» online language schools that just aim at charging customers as much as they can in the first purchase in exchange for a bunch of «lessons». They know that the customers won’t come back, so they have only one chance to charge them. There will still be e-books on sale with «10 secrets of language learning you did not know yet». There will be more software that teaches to speak the language by showing you vocabulary flashcards.

In other words, if most customers become results-oriented, the language learning environment will have to change quite a bit in the future. If it continues to be a quest for a magic technique, then there will be not much of a change. Even with the advancement of technology.

Even if Internet and virtual classrooms spread, there would always be people who learn better with a screen and some others who learn better with books.


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