Services & Software

The social network where you can't understand anyone: LiveMocha

A new language learning system combines a strong education program with a social network for feedback.

Plenty of language learning tools leverage technology. Recently I've taken to listening to the Coffee Break Spanish courses on my iPod during my commute, and last week Jessica Dolcourt covered the new online language learning system Mango. There's yet another system being released at DemoFall tomorrow that also looks very compelling: LiveMocha.

You can chat (using text or audio) with other language learners.

Like other language learning tools, LiveMocha has online lessons you can take at your own pace. Compared with Mango, I found LiveMocha easier to get into. My test case was beginning Spanish, and lessons flew by as my vocabulary and comprehension grew quickly. But what really sets LiveMocha apart from other systems is its social system: after you take a lesson, you can practice your knowledge by either writing or recording your answer to a question aimed at other learners of your level.

Other LiveMocha users who know the language you're learning are the ones who critique your response. If you're learning Spanish, then a native Spanish speaker will give you feedback. Likewise, you'll be asked to give feedback for people learning the language you speak. You can also connect in real time with other users (either already speaking your language or learning it) and talk with them using guidelines for conversation that pop up when you connect. Eventually, you might set up a network of fellow learners.

Language is a social tool, so it makes sense to learn one in a social setting. If you can't get yourself into a classroom or immerse yourself in a new culture, this system--free during beta test--is worth a try.