In the first two sections I suggested that students need to first clarify their objectives and then considered the advantages of disadvantages of conventional schools. I will now consider self-study by computer or over the net.
Self-study by computer. Advantages.
In self-study students work alone, usually with a computer, in order to learn the language. This is a great advantage for people who don’t have a regular schedule and want to study when it’s convenient for them. It is very good for doing grammar exercises and tests and also for practising vocabulary.
If you are studying for an exam which requires you to memorize certain facts then it can be a good way of memorizing them. If your program has audio it can be a good way of practising listening.
Self-study by computer. Disadvantages.
Self-study by itself does little to help you with your writing skills as you really need a human being to tell you how to improve and to give you explicit advice, criticism and direction.
Another problem with computerized learning is that the lack of the social contact which schools or private teachers provide means that it’s very easy to drop a course. In fact, It has been suggested that the majority of students give up unsupported self-study programs after a couple of weeks.
Finally, by itself, self-study is even worse than traditional schools for learning conversational skills. If you want to learn how to talk to real people then you must talk to real people.
That is not to say that self-study of languages is worthless - far from it. When combined with other forms of learning it can be is immensely powerful; it's the use of self-study in isolation which can be difficult.