Why Microlearning And Nanolearning Are The Perfect Way To Learn A Language

European Day of Languages 2019

Find out the difference between the Nanolearning and Microlearning, and why both make absolute sense when it comes to learning a language, with all of its grammar, vocab, idioms and odd little rules.

First things first.

What is the difference between Microlearning and Nanolearning?



Microlearning is a way of teaching and delivering content to learners in short, very specific bursts through a variety of mediums.

It is about small quantities of information that leave a lasting impression.

As such, the “bite-sized” techniques should give the learner the opportunity to absorb information quickly and efficiently, and be able to recall that information for future use and apply to daily life.



At learningonline.xyz, we use the term Nanolearning for what sits underneath Microlearning, building the bites or micros.

According to most dictionaries and online tech .orgs, Nanotechnology is the branch of technology that deals with dimensions and tolerances of less than 100 nanometres, especially the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.

That’s exactly how we see online learning: atoms or tiny particles of info coming together to create something of relevance.

Nanolearning goes one step further, to ensure that the tiny parts that make up the “bite” make it tasty and easy to swallow.

So why are Microlearning and Nanolearning perfect for learning a language?


Reason #1 They have the Pareto Principle in common (20% of effort that results in 80% of results).

Microlearning is about getting maximum benefits through minimal input. It’s the vital 20% of micro content that is responsible for 80% of your positive learning outcomes.

It’s a well known fact that 80% of daily conversation is based on 20% of the language.


Reason #2 The Natural Human Attention Span and Memory

The underlying success factor of Microlearning is that content is offered in short durations of 1-3 minutes at the most to mirror the human attention span.

According to his George Miller’s Information Process Theory, a learner’s attention span and short-term memory is limited to processing information in chunks. Chunking content into small, manageable sections makes learning more manageable and easier to integrate into long-term memory. Once it’s in long-term memory, learners can remember it and transfer the knowledge to their everyday life. 

ML and NL take minimum information at a time and build it up in memorable chunks.

Language teachers are very familiar with scenario based teaching with linked topics and scaffolding i.e. breaking it down and building it back up. For example, teach numbers 1-10 before you teach how to ask someone for their telephone number.


Reason #3 Sociability

Microlearning uses multi-media tools at the heart of its platform, with compelling visual graphics. Its Nanos of information work just as well on mobile downloads as well as web based devices, through videos, slideshows, gamification etc. Microlearning encourages sharing and languages encourage communication – it and languages with its strong visual learning techniques were made for each other. 




Reason #4 Holistic Learning

Key for languages is the ability to learn and practice all 4 skills i.e. the Receptive Skills of listening and reading, and the Productive Skills of writing and speaking. Multi-media tools are designed to present the same learning point is a variety of ways, and are an excellent match for the language learning process.


Reason #5 Repetition

As an adjective, repetitive doesn’t always have positive connotations. However, for languages, it’s a must. Language learning is all about building blocks. You can’t talk about what job you do if you can’t remember how the verb to be works. Going around pointing at yourself saying “lawyer” or “developer” doesn’t cut it. Each Microlearning lesson is made up of nanolearning or tiny nanos, so:

A) You get to really dot every “i” and cross every “t” before moving on
B) You can go back to that bit if you can’t remember and repeat it. When you learn a language, you don’t want to have to repeat the whole thing, just rework on the bits and pieces to make you more fluent.

Reason #6 Accessibility and Mobility

People use languages on the go, whether travelling for personal or professional reasons or while socializing with multi-nationals.

More than 1 billion smartphones were sold last year and worldwide tablet sales grew 68% in 2013.


  • YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month – that’s more than any other channel, apart from Facebook.
  • According to Cisco, video will account for 69% of consumer internet traffic by 2017.


On average, Gen Y will have 9 jobs throughout their career and expect flexibility of location and working hours as part of their contract. Microlearning works for mobility, due to being able to access the right micro at the right time quickly for that scenario. Languages work for mobility, due to the requirement for multi-national workforces to understand each other and build teams.


Reason #7 Immediate Feedback

“Micro” defines not only the size of the content, but also refers to the interaction, i.e. very short learning units with the most rapid feedback possible. Any language learner knows immediate feedback and correction is key to building accuracy. Microlearning allows checks after each Nano of learning, enabling accuracy and therefore building confidence and competency.


Reason #8 Changing Lifestyle Habits

By 2025, Millennials or Gen Y alone will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. The Pew Research Center, an American think tan organization, defined Millennials as being born between 1981 and 1997.

Millennials have adopted mobile devices, mobile Internet connectivity and social networking more than any other group. Real-time interactivity with hundreds of friends on Facebook or Twitter means they can rely more on crowd sourced and shared input through their almost symbiotic relationship with devices. They expect the same connectivity from businesses when purchasing.


  • 70 percent of Millennials visit YouTube monthly. They simply prefer video to any other medium.
  • Millennials alone make up over 50% of US Facebook and Twitter users


They learn the same way. Microlearning and Languages are perfectly placed to complement mobility with their learning, shareable treats.


So Why Do Languages  through Microlearning and Nanolearning Make Sense?

To summarize, Μicrolearning and Nanolearning break down training, deconstructing longer traditional programs into tasty bite-sized treats.

The learners are in control of what and when they learn.

This technique mirrors perfectly the natural way people learn a language in the modern world, through a combination of informal and formal learning, but moreover, socially, through brief, relevant communication.


About the author

Moaz Khan
Moaz Khan

Moaz is an expert Marketeer with over 12 years experience in Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy, and Management Planning, within the Education and edTech space, with a strong aptitude for Problem Solving and developing an engaging User Experience.

Moaz Khan By Moaz Khan

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

Join our subscribers list to receive latest news, updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox!

Email Address:

First Name:

Thank you for subscribing!