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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Education > New program uses cyber community to help people learn new languages

New program uses cyber community to help people learn new languages

LatinaLista — It’s often been said that the best way to learn a new language is total immersion. Usually that means traveling to a foreign country or living in a place where only the language you want to learn is spoken.

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With the Internet, learning a new language can take a whole new direction. It’s no longer enough to just provide online lessons with audio and video components, while the Internet allows for people from different countries to actually connect with one another.

At least, that’s what the creators of the social media language learning site Livemocha thought.

Realizing that the world is getting smaller and smaller with billions of people traveling and emigrating between countries, the creators of Livemocha recognized that learning a new language is quickly becoming a necessity.

But the problem was: How do you get people proficient in speaking a new language before they actually have to use it?

Taking a page from social network sites that link people from all over the world, Livemocha created an online international community where people learning a new language actually go online to practice, via webcam, with a native speaker.

But perhaps the coolest thing about the Livemocha method is how they keep people motivated to stay with the lessons –

For most people with little free time, learning a language can take a back seat to their busy lives. Through competitions, a language buddy system and community encouragement, Livemocha provides the tools to keep learners motivated and making steady progress.

Livemocha has free classes, along with, premium services that cost. There are written exercises as part of the lessons, and another cool feature of the site is that they provide a virtual keyboard with the characters from that country’s alphabet so as to type the lessons correctly – that means accent marks!

The site offers classes in 30 different languages. Among them are: English, Spanish, French, Hindi, German, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese.

As a testament to the effectiveness of Livemocha, the creators just got back from London, England where their “Active English” program was awarded the 2009 English-Speaking Union’s President’s Award.

While not everybody can enjoy the benefits of growing up biculturally, there’s no reason to go through life anymore not being bilingual or trilingual, etc.

The art of the future is communication — in the language that best does that.

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Comment(1)

  • Steve Kaufmann
    December 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Livemocha places too much emphasis on mutual correction. Check out LingQ.com which places more emphasis on learning from interesting content.

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