Role of online language training questioned by some experts

If you're considering filling out a college application for a foreign language course of study, would you rather learn from an experienced lecturer or a software program? That's the question being discussed at James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Last April, JMU became the first university in the country to partner with language software developer Rosetta Stone. Students enrolled in the school can take classes in Spanish using the software, and despite some academic leaders' concerns that the quality of the course won't be as good as classes taught by an experienced instructor, research suggests it might be.

According to a 2009 study by Queens College of the City University of New York available on Rosetta Stone's website, 70 hours of Rosetta Stone training is roughly equivalent to the material covered by an introductory Spanish course. Officials from the software company say that learning languages online isn't that unusual in today's information age.

"For [many college students], learning with a computer is not that unusual," Cathy Quenzer, Rosetta Stone's executive director of education, told the news source. "We’re dealing with a population that wants to learn differently and might want to take the course further than they could before."

Would you rather learn Spanish face to face or through software programs like Rosetta Stone? What do you think of JMU's strategy? 

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