Language education is the process of learning a language, as well as the teaching process of said language. It may refer to either learning a native language for the first time, or learning a second language. The term "language education" more commonly refers to learning a second or additional language beyond one's native language; for this reason, it is commonly used as an academic term. Language learning computer software is another type of language education that allows users to learn the language independently, on their own time.
The process of language education and language acquisition can differ greatly depending on the teaching style used, the age of the students learning the language, and whether the students are developing more in-depth skills with their first language or are attempting to learn a second language. It is common for language educators to begin with vocabulary words and verb conjugation principles, because these form the basis of most second language education practices. Some teachers will use an immersion style of teaching a language, where students are encouraged to speak the new language as much as possible; this can be quite challenging for introductory students, but for more advanced learners, it is a very effective method of language acquisition.
There are other methods used for language education, which is considered to be a form of applied linguistics. The most effective methods are generally considered to be those that use a combination of memorization and grammar studies with natural conversation and exploration of the language. Memorization may help one to learn a number of new words, or even develop the ability to read in the language, but it will generally not give students the ability to actually speak the language. A language "exchange" program, where two people who each speak a different language, but want to learn the other's language will communicate and practice with each other, is another method that is much simpler now with voice and video communication over the Internet.
Though classroom learning was once the most common form of language education, this is changing to some extent. There are now a number of different software programs available in virtually any language imaginable, and often these can provide a thorough language education up to near fluency in the chosen language. Some will even allow users to practice their pronunciation through the microphone on a computer, or through simulated conversations. Language programs that promise fluency tend to be fairly expensive, and not all deliver fully, but may still represent a bargain compared with the cost of a traditional university language program.