EnBooo Blog

Which Is Better? A Teacher Or An App?

Let’s face it. No matter what we’re trying to achieve, we’ll need some type of tools. Do you think Michaelangelo could have painted the Sixteenth Chapel without a paintbrush? Do you think Jimmy Hendrix would have become one of the best guitar players without his electric guitar? Nah, I don’t think so.

So, you probably agree with me when I say that tools are necessary. But, choosing the correct tools is also crucial. Sure, you could still carve a wonderful table out of a wood block using a crappy chisel, but chances are it will require a lot more time and definitely a lot more frustration.

Whenever we have to decide if something is worth purchasing, we take three different things into consideration, they’re what I like to call the three E’s — effectiveness, efficiency and expense.

  • Effectiveness = Will it actually deliver? Will I get the results I expect?
  • Efficiency = Can it get me the results I want as fast as possible?
  • Expense = Can I afford it? And is the price reasonable?

Once a product or service meets these three requirements, you know it’s worth the investment. When it comes to choosing the right tools to learn English, these are exactly the same questions you should ask yourself.

Which is better to become fluent in English? An app, a teacher or… something else?

Normally when we decide to rely on a tool to help us improve our fluency, we end up choosing either an app or a teacher (or sometimes a combination of these two). Each of these two options has its advantages and disadvantages. We’ll now explore these two popular options and then we’ll see how EnBooo’s method compares to that. Ready? Let’s go.

Relying on apps

Image: www.languagethrone.com

Language apps have become the craze of the decade. Not a day goes by that I don’t come across yet another language app that promises you fast results, but not all that glitters is gold, is it?

Apps are fun. They are. I can’t deny that. They make everything feel like it’s a game, but how much can we really learn from an app?

The pros of learning English using an app

  • It gives you flexibility — you can use it whenever you want, anywhere you want. That’s pretty darn convenient.
  • You can learn a lot in little time — these apps are designed to keep you engaged and bombard you with new content, which may mean you might learn lots of new words/expressions in a very short time.
  • It doesn’t feel like you’re studying — Your answer is correct! +250 points. Try again! You’ve won two gold stars. I get it. Using these apps is actually fun and sometimes even quite addictive.
  • They’re cheap — Not only are many of these apps incredibly cheap, some of them like Duolingo can even be used for free. It’s hard to beat that kind of price, isn’t it?

The dark side of language apps

  • You don’t make any emotional connections — What did you like best when you were a child? Having your favorite story read to you by your parents or listening to a recording of it? Mom and dad’s voices are irreplaceable. There’s something about having a human connection that makes learning a lot more enjoyable and a lot more effective and while many apps do their best to mimic a human voice, their robotic voice doesn’t fool us.
  • You can’t use the language creatively — No matter how advanced an app could be, there will still be limits as to how you can use the language you just learned. Fill in the gap, translate the sentence, maybe try to pronounce it and then move on to the next one. Creativity = zero.
  • They provide no context — I remember the first time I tried to use Duolingo to learn Spanish. The first sentence I was asked to translate was ‘Jorge come una manzana’ (Jorge is eating an apple). Who is Jorge? Why is he eating an apple? And, most importantly, why would I care? Context is crucial. If we are not emotionally invested in what we are reading or listening to, we are less likely to retain the information.
  • Apps don’t give you a clear schedule — Consistency is one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, when it comes to learning a language and yet, most apps don’t provide you with a plan. They are just there for you to use whenever you want. You can spend two hours on it one day, then forget about them for a week and nothing will happen and that can be detrimental to your progress.

Relying on an Teacher

Teachers, sorry, good teachers can be a very precious tool and can definitely help you speed up your progress and help you achieve English fluency, however, even this option has its drawbacks. I am a teacher, I should know.

The pros of relying on an English teacher:

  • You make emotional connections — A teacher is a human being and that alone is an invaluable resource. The learning process is much more enjoyable and meaningful if you connect with someone.
  • You can use the language creatively — There are no limits when it comes to expressing yourself with a teacher, you can use the new language in ways that are meaningful to you, experiment with it and have fun with it.
  • A teacher almost always provides context — Whether they’re telling you a story or recommending you read an article, there will always be some form of context that surrounds the new language. Without that, it would be as if you were learning from the dictionary and that doesn’t work. Trust me. I’ve tried it.
  • It gives you a clear schedule — Normally having a teacher means picking a day and a time and committing to it. This makes sure that you remain consistent in your learning journey.

The disadvantages of relying on an English teacher

  • You have no flexibility — Sure, you might reschedule a lesson once but having a teacher means you’ll normally have to show up on the day you had agreed, even if something comes up at the last minute.
  • It might not be super efficient — Long conversations with someone are great, we get to make a connection and learn more about a topic, however, if you spend one hour conversing with a teacher, how many new expressions do you actually learn by the end of the lesson? Everything is a bit watered down.
  • There is no game component — I have yet to meet a teacher who teaches adult students and rewards them with gold stars every time they get an answer right. The conversations might be fun but they’re missing that dopamine action that apps are so good at creating.
  • They can be quite expensive — The truth is if a lesson with a teacher is costing you less than $30 an hour, it’s because they’re either not doing their job well or you’re underpaying them and doing them a great disservice. But, on the other hand, I also understand that $30 an hour, multiplied by however many 1:1 lessons you would need a month, can be a lot of money for many people.

Is There a Better Solution?

So, are there any alternatives to these two options? As a matter of fact, yes.

Back when I was still teaching full time, I realized many of my students wanted the exact same thing — they wanted to improve their vocabulary and their fluency, they wanted to make progress fast but at the same they didn’t want to spend a fortune on 1:1 lessons.

So I got an idea. What if instead of teaching the same thing over and over to my students, I could help all of them get the results they wanted, teach them to be independent in their learning journey while still being next to them every step of the way?

So I asked myself three big questions.

  1. What type of resources would I have liked to have when I was learning English?
  2. How could I make the learning process faster and more effective?
  3. How could I be by their side while at the same time giving them the liberty to learn and make progress on their own?

And that’s why I created EnBooo — to give my students the flexibility they need while still making sure they get the quality teaching they deserve.

Here’s how EnBooo compares to studying with an app or working with a teacher:

  • With EnBooo you have total flexibility. You can access its resources whenever you want and wherever you want.
  • EnBooo’s content is packed with useful language, so every time you read, watch or listen to something you are learning something new. That means no more wasted time.
  • You get to make emotional connections — there is a real teacher behind all of that, I often talk about my life and experiences so it’ll be like we’re connecting despite the distance.
  • EnBooo always provides a context — every time you come across a new expression, it will be inserted seamlessly into a story, an article or a video so everything will be a lot more interesting and it will make a lot more sense.
  • EnBooo is also fun — the quizzes are a great way to learn and memorize new language without even realizing it.
  • I know how important consistency is when learning a language, that’s why EnBooo has a clear posting schedule

Here’s a nice little table to sum it all up for you.

EnBooo is a series of resources created by an English teacher/learner for English learners so they no longer have to make the compromise between price, efficiency and effectiveness because now you can have it all in one place. 

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