Friday, November 19, 2010
Live Mocha Is Awesome !
I am proud to be from Washington State. I love our mountains, beaches, forests and orchards. I love the down to earth people. I love the unique sounds and smells of our famous Pike Place Market. Washingtonians are know not only for being earthy, kind people. They are also known for being leading innovators whom make breakthroughs in science and technology. In Forbes 2008 Fortune 500 list of the United States largest companies based on total revenue, six are located in Seattle. These include Boeing, Microsoft, Safeco, Starbucks, Nordstrom and Amazon.com. But this blog is about polyglots, so where am I going with this.
I recently posted a video on YouTube about a language learning social network called LiveMocha. I linked the actual video below so that you can also watch it here.
I liked the name. It evokes the image of a relaxed Seattle coffee shop / bookstore atmosphere. Being a Seattle girl, I love coffee and the atmosphere. LiveMocha introduced its Web site in late September 2007. It is a social network of language learners who use their own language proficiency to help others. Since then, he said, about 200,000 users from more than 200 countries have joined. Just a few minutes ago I learned that LiveMocha is a Seattle company!
I love using LiveMocha! I have been using it every day for the last three days to practice the two languages I am actively working on, Spanish and Swedish. I do not need too much help with Spanish, after all I do live in Mexico. However, LiveMocha has helped me tremendously in learning Swedish.
It works something like this. You study a core lesson with about 40 objectives. This lesson can be about nouns, adjectives or whatever. It depends on what level you are starting at. Then you submit coursework for peer review. First, you submit a written assignment. Second, you submit an oral assignment. The oral assignment means that you record yourself speaking in your target language. They will always have something for you to read. Almost immediately, native speakers have corrected your coursework, both oral and written. Instant feedback from native speakers. How does it get better than that? (Well - living abroad is better than that.) But it is a pretty close second, wouldn't you agree? Native speakers also record messages for you. They give you tips on how to pronounce certain words properly.
Lessons are provided in thirty languages. With 200,000 users, there will always be plenty of people who speak the language you are studying. These people are usually on LiveMocha to learn English. You contribute by correcting their written assignments and reviewing their oral presentations. After a while, you will see that the more you help others the more help they give you. I think it is a fantastic idea! This is a great website. I am only sorry I did not find it sooner. You can also chat with these people live. According to John Cook's Venture Blog, Livemocha was easily Seattle's biggest moving start-up company in Autumn 2007.
Websites like this reminds me that language learning is very different today than it was when I was in high school. It is that unique element of being a social network that makes LiveMocha so useful. Students are motivated to continue their language learning. They are motivated to engage with others. They are motivated every time a native speaker posts an audio reply. Below is a sample of some of my Swedish writing and instant feedback I received from a Swede.
As you can see from the images above, other members correct my grammar and spelling. They also record audio messages to help me pronounce those three letters in the Swedish alphabet that do not exist in English: ö ä å. They have even linked me up to other websites where I can listen to the Swedish language online. One of those Swedish websites is Startsida/svt.se. I have been listening to interviews on their news websites already. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go before I can really understand what is being said on Starsida.
In short, I will end this blog saying that there is no time better than the present. Learning another language is fun, personally enriching and will give you a whole new perspective on the world. When you are able to communicate with others in another language, you will feel a tremendous amount of pride.