Web site provides opportunity to learn foreign languages from native speakers

Issue date: 3/7/08 Section: News
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To learn a foreign language can be a time consuming commitment involving years of classes. But not everyone interested in learning a new language has the time or resources to dedicate themselves to such an arduous task.

LiveMocha, an online language program, takes the meaning of the word classroom to a whole new level.

Created in September 2007, LiveMocha.com is a free Web site which provides users with the flexibility to learn a language based on their own schedules.

Bryan Hurren, the director of product marketing for LiveMocha, said students have the option of completing more than 160 hours of lesson plans covering topics like conversational language and vocabulary. The site also provides exercises in reading, listening, writing and speaking. Users can take beginning or intermediate classes in six languages - French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Hindi and English.

Hurren said users also have the ability to converse with native speakers.

"The best way to learn a language is through native interaction and conversation," he said.

Through social networking, users from around the world teach and learn from other LiveMocha members, Hurren said. With the addition of a webcam or a microphone, users can also practice real-time audio, video or text conversations or submit writing or audio samples to their tutors for grading.

Paul Aoki, director of the language learning center at the University of Washington Seattle, said the LiveMocha program is available for students to utilize and modify.

"It's kind of along the lines as a Wikipedia, as people tend to be self-regulating," Aoki said.

He said users also have free rein to correct other members' assignments and to add their own tips in vocabulary and grammar to the LiveMocha site.

Aoki said he believes there is no screening on the site to determine credible material.

Curtis Bonk, a professor of education at Indiana University and a specialist in integrating online technologies into teaching, said social networking can be beneficial because it provides users with an audience outside of a traditional classroom setting and increases learning material.
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    Jon Bischke

    posted 3/09/08 @ 6:47 PM EST

    LiveMocha is great when you are first starting out with a language and building vocabulary. It's also nice for basic conversation practice.

    What we've been building at eduFire is a service for when you're ready to move to the next level through private tutoring with a native speaker. (Continued…)

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