Online English Course

Distance learning used to be limited to correspondence courses that you completed at home and submitted for a certificate. Today, however, you can take an English course, earn a college degree, attend graduate school, and even complete a doctoral program all from the comfort of your own home, with just a computer and an Internet connection.

There are countless subjects now offered via online college; interior design, creative writing, and even engineering courses can be studied via the Internet. One of the easiest courses to take online is an English course.

Most classroom English courses follow a formula—you read a piece of literature, discuss the work in class, and then write a paper analyzing the work. This system is easily duplicated with an online English course. The instructor sets up a web page outlining the course. She assigns works of literature, which the students read and then discuss in an online forum. Submitting a paper is as easy as uploading a document or e-mailing it to the instructor.

The advantages of taking an online English course are obvious. You can do the work for the course at any time, which is especially convenient if you are working or raising a family. Because these courses usually have an online community to facilitate discussion of the literature, you can contribute to the discussion night or day—in your pajamas, if necessary!

With an online English course, you will save not only time, but also money. You will not have to alter your work schedule or hire childcare if you are a working adult. You will not need to drive to a university to take the class. Online courses also usually rely on texts that can be checked out from the library, whereas a college course is more likely to require a textbook.

One of the best parts about taking an online English course is “meeting” fellow students from all over the world. It can be fascinating to chat with someone from Korea or Australia about a book. International students often bring a unique cultural perspective to the literature that can enrich the discussion enormously.

Online English Course

Some argue that online English courses are actually more challenging than ones taught in a classroom. For one, you cannot “fudge” it if you have not read the book, since part of your grade will almost certainly be for your participation in the online discussions. In a classroom discussion, you can offer your thoughts but the instructor probably does not write them down. In an online English course, however, the teacher has a written record of your discussion points to refer to when she is computing your grade. The quality of your participation, as well as the frequency of your communication, must be considerably better with an online course to earn a good grade.

One disadvantage of taking an online English course is that you will not get to enjoy the personal dynamic of the classroom or meet your fellow students or teacher face to face. People who are not especially technologically savvy also may struggle with the computer skills required to learn in an online environment.

If you struggle with writing, you also may find an online English course especially challenging because of its heavy emphasis on the written word. Online English courses will almost always require you to submit a paper as evidence that you have read and analyzed the literature. Rarely will you find an online class that requires you to complete a test in a multiple-choice format.

Online English courses are offered by both “brick-and-mortar” colleges, as well as by web-based universities that exist only in the virtual world. You can also find numerous English courses offered through various organizations and online groups that are not affiliated with a college. The college-based courses tend to be the most expensive option, and many online courses are free.

Most of us have taken an English course, but there is no longer a need to step into a classroom to complete a degree or to enrich your knowledge of literature. In the words of writer Robert Brault, “Learning is a lifetime process, but there comes a time when we must stop adding and start updating.” With an online English course, you can do both.


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