TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award winner Livemocha is truly a site for sore eyes to anyone who is trying to learn Spanish. And, since it is constantly changing because of the social media they are exploiting, it is probably being bettered as you are reading this review. As far as technology and social media usage, Livemocha’s site is a dream come true for the language learner. Students can converse any time they want with students from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Their embrace of technology was like no other we’ve seen before. The social media is being used as it was really meant to be. Students are out there sharing, conversing, and teaching each other all because Livemocha has made it so easy. And the forums are growing. In fact, the site has real potential to dominate the language teaching world.
Livemocha's website is exceptionally easy to use and the interfaces let the student know exactly where they are and how much further they need to go in the lesson. But if a student isn’t satisfied with their knowledge, there are additional practice sessions available at that level. They can also opt to use the tutors as teachers.
Unfortunately, Livemocha has not developed their site into a full reservoir of learning. We were unable to find any articles or stories. This is a shame because the students could use these materials to work with each other. Nor was there any kind of newsletter, so this leaves such a wonderful site somewhat passive, in that people aren’t regularly pulled in by good content.
These are some of the great learning materials in Livemocha:
Although there aren't any stories or articles available, it doesn't mean that members can't do them. The more talented people who join, the more they will have available. But we really wish there were more options available currently or that they were requesting this kind of information be submitted by members.
Livemocha is doing an outstanding job using their audio capabilities. Students can converse with each other via instant messenger and they can also make audio files and send to their fellow members. There's even a place where members can look at a queue of entries that other members have made. Those needing correction for English speakers simply submit their audio or written files and English speakers can choose the ones they are interested in. Many of them are Latin Americans or Spaniards. You can simply select one, give them feedback on their English and then you can submit your work to the queue and Spanish speakers can help you.
Livemocha gets an A+ for tutoring because they have figured out a way to keep the cost down and still give students access to native speakers. When a student gets an invitation to work with someone, the profile of that person pops up on the screen. The student can then determine if this is the person they indeed want to work with. You can pick your tutor based on country of origin, interests, age, looks (there’s a photograph), or any other criteria they prefer.
Although there were some options for learning alternative subject matters, Livemocha hasn’t done much to develop materials for those who need specific vocabulary for a job in the restaurant industry or in healthcare.
However, there is nothing keeping students from finding study partners that can help them in this particular endeavor, or whatever topic they are interested in.
Livemocha has many options available for lessons. In fact, it was the only one in the group that had options for further exercises on a particular grammar point. Their images were of good quality and they were used cleverly and what was being asked of the student was clear. Their reliance on translation was a little disappointing since translation is not the best way to acquire language.
Livemocha's range of levels is impressive, although the lack of rich supplemental materials will greatly affect those who really want to become fluent in the language.
All in all, Livemocha is a Spanish language website anyone who is studying Spanish should check out. The chance for interaction in Spanish can't be beat because there appears to be a plethora of Spanish speakers who want to learn English and English speakers who want to learn Spanish. The forum is full of opportunities to make friends and for rich Spanish interaction.
We really do have to applaud the Livemocha founders for implementing their audio component and we're sure this will only get richer as time goes on and more people have the hardware to participate.
We recommend that the Livemocha staff consider adding supplemental materials such as essays, articles, and other kinds of cultural material. We also recommend they start some kind of newsletter. They have so many speakers of so many languages to choose from it wouldn't be so difficult to implement.
That said, Livemocha is a great website to help you learn Spanish.