Written by David Fisco
27 September 2016
Word count: 297

In the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, author Stephen Covey entitled his 6th habit “Synergy”. Covey described Synergy:

Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together, the roots comingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. […] The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Here’s a way to synergize foreign language learning with your online studies.

Massive Open Online Courses (or “MOOCs”) are a great way to enhance your skill-set. Institutions offer thousands of courses, many free to audit. What is less known about the MOOCs is that many offered in English also provide transcripts of their videos in other languages.

Here’s where the synergy comes in: If a course you’re interested in offers transcripts in a language you are trying to learn, those foreign language transcripts can become a lesson for your foreign language. Copying the transcripts, or even just reading them (silently or aloud), becomes a synergistic exercise between the MOOC and the foreign language you are trying to master.

Case Study

Having no experience with the programming language Scala, I signed up for Coursera’s Functional Programming Principles in Scala course. Viewing the first lecture, I learned that the transcripts were available in several languages, including French.

I make a habit of dedicating 20 minutes each day to learning French, using a variety of online sources. But, for now, those online sources are on hold as I spend my daily 20-minute sessions reading and copying the Scala lectures in French. Not only am I learning Scala, but also I’m meeting my autodidactic commitment to French.

Ç’est très utile.


Covey, Stephen R. (2015) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Interactive Edition. Retrieved from Amazon.com.