Livemocha (www.livemocha.com) is a community-driven foreign language website. Its tools are similar to Rosetta Stone, but it has one feature that makes it far superior in my opinion. Native speakers of the language you are leaning review and grade your writing and speaking. And in turn, you review and grade those who are learning your native language. A perfect give-and-take scenario.
Below is a screen shot of the homepage showing my “Mochapoints”, which is based on the lessons, writings and speeches I submitted; and my “Teacherscore”, which is based on my reviews of other users’ writing and speech submissions.
Livemocha also seems to cover a lot more languages than some other language websites, which only cover the four basic languages (you know what they are; no point in documenting them here). Basically, it’s a really turn off when you go to a site that is only offering the languages you learned in either high school or college (yawn).
Livemocha also has plenty of material to study. A language usually consists of four courses (101, 102, 201 and 202). Each course consists typically of three units. Within each unit there typically consists of five lessons. To complete a lesson can take anywhere from 3-5 hours (based on my own experience). Basically, its up the user how much time they want to stay in a lesson before moving on.
Each lesson consists of a Rosetta Stone type study guide (see below) followed by review. Then it’s on to the speech. This is where you record a short reading based on the lesson. Then you submit the lesson and wait for other users (native speakers of the language you are learning) to review your recording. Some users will leave a recording of the same reading, which is really helpful since you are getting a chance to hear a native speaker with their own particular dialect. But most just leave written comments.
The last part of a lesson is the writing. Here you write a short one paragraph essay (or as long as you want) on the topic at hand. Again, you submit this and wait for native speakers to review your writing.
There are also other tools I have yet to use, such as, their live chat with native speakers.
A social network is also integrated into the website, which is a great support system when learning a foreign language. After all, who else to ask a question when it comes to learning a foreign language than someone who speaks that language. You can also provide valuable information to those who are learning your language. You’ve been studying that language all your life. You don’t need a degree or a teacher title to help someone say from Brazil who is trying to learn English (incidentally, there are a lot of Brazilians that are learning English).
Overall, Livemocha is a great community-driven website. I’d even go as far as saying it’s a killer app. If only this was around when I was bogged down in endless grammatically lessons of Spanish in college, which I really can’t say I can speak, even though I took three semesters! Personally I think you just have to start using the language as soon as possible once you learn the very basics. From there you are going to learn from your mistakes and by native speakers.