Livemocha: tool for learning

 Livemocha web as a tool for CoP ( http://learn.livemocha.com)

The Livemocha community is made up of language enthusiasts: teachers, language experts, other language learners, and native speakers proud of their language and heritage.  Community members help each other learn in a myriad of ways: they leave comments in response to practice exercises, build mini-lessons within exercise feedback, have practice conversations via text, video or audio chat, provide language practice and culture tips, and give much-needed encouragement.

It is universally agreed that conversational proficiency in a language is most effectively acquired and retained through immersion. The Livemocha community provides learners with a convenient and safe environment for language immersion and is an essential component of the Whole-Part-Whole methodology that makes Livemocha’s language courses effective.  After a learner has observed how the conversation is performed and learned the vocabulary and grammar components, they can then engage in a series of exercises with the native speakers in the Livemocha community. They practice, learn, and actually communicate.

Beginners or learners who like a bit more structure can connect with native speakers in the community to practice conversations using a set transcript. Practicing speech production in real time with a native speaker and receiving immediate feedback on your skills is a fun and effective way to develop comfort and confidence with synthesizing the components of a language for use in a conversation.

Language is not just an academic subject but also a performing art – something that must be actively practiced in order to master. A learner can watch people speak a new language, memorize all of the grammar rules, and talk about the language ad nauseam. But to truly speak a language, a learner must actually try it out with a partner. Real conversational fluency takes good instruction, a dose of courage, and a lot of real-life practice.

Whole-Part-Whole is a proven structure that allows learners to observe, learn, and then practice new language concepts. Consistently used in skills training, Whole-Part-Whole breaks down learning situations into three parts:

  • Demonstration: The learner watches and/or listens to native speakers engage in a conversation. The situation includes new language skills and is presented to learners in a complete real-life setting that helps with the construction of a mental model. For example, the learner may watch a video of people ordering coffee at a café and then complete a short exercise to gauge their own comprehension.
  • Deconstruction: The situation represented in the conversation is broken down into its vocabulary and grammar parts. This allows learners to fully understand the components of the new situation and to learn how those components can be applied to other situations as well.
  • Practice: Finally, the components are reassembled and the learner is given the opportunity to practice via a series of interactive activities.  These activities focus on written and spoken production and all involve interaction with and feedback from real native speakers of the language.

Livemocha’s learning materials are all made up of Activity Sets.  The building blocks of each course framework, one Activity Set represents a single Whole-Part-Whole deconstruction of a concept or scenario.  Activity Sets can be combined into Sequences that, when completed, allow the learner to do a specific task. Sequences are then combined into Courses, which deliver a specific learning outcome tied to the proficiency level a learner will achieve upon completion – for example, English Mastery for Business. Each Course is created to meet the needs of a particular Persona – the target learner for the Course, who has an assumed set of competencies including knowledge, age, skills, etc.

There is a chance to learn 35 languages, in a free online learning way, and with a worldwide community of native-speaking language learners. Hailing from every country in the world and speaking over 260 languages, the Livemocha community represents a rich blend of languages, cultures, and nationalities. Learners, teachers, and content creators—all equal members of the community—come together to learn, share, and connect, building each other’s language skills and expanding each other’s worldview.

Livemocha’s blog is very useful and is divided into entries from teachers and students. Submission exercises—in which a learner writes a passage or records him or herself speaking and then submits that exercise to the community for feedback—are found in all Livemocha courses and are also available as standalone activities.  In a lesson, they provide learners with the opportunity to practice writing and speaking, which synthesizes the vocabulary and grammar components of a conversation.  Learners who complete practice exercises are encouraged to submit them to the community for review and get the full benefit of the whole-part-whole structure of Livemocha’s courses.  Repeated practice and feedback from the community helps a learner develop the skills and confidence to eventually participate in a conversation in the new language.

The submission exercises are submitted to native-speaking members of the community at large for review.  Learners can also request feedback from specific members of the community to whom they are connected. As soon as their exercises are reviewed, learners receive notification and are able to view the feedback for their work.  All exercises and the associated feedback are saved for the learner to review as much as he/she wants.

Learners who submit their exercises to the community for review receive a rating for their work, a written comment and frequently, an audio comment as well.  The Livemocha community is made up of language enthusiasts who are teachers, language experts, native speakers proud of their language and heritage, and other language learners so getting comments specific to practice exercises is just the start. Learners can get feedback that includes detailed mini-lessons that extend beyond the subject of the exercise, language practice tips, culture tips and much-needed encouragement (after all, learning a new language is not easy!).

When you login for the first time, you get 50000 points and you get more if you help other users. Each advanced lesson in English is 7000 points, so you have enough points for 7 advanced lessons if you don’t help. Of course, you can buy more points, if you like it.

If you need special features for learning, Livemocha’s resources are related to Rosetta Stone (http://www.rosettastone.es/), a very interesting and complete learning method.

This content has been extracted taking into account public data from the Livemocha’s web published general information.

Javier Rebollo

Aplicaciones de las TIC

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4 thoughts on “Livemocha: tool for learning

  1. Like all your posts this has been really informative and eagering, it makes a non technological woman like me to wish going deeper in this world.
    thanks I think I will try with this tool

  2. Thank you Javier. I read an interesting article written by John Fotheringham. He underlined that Livemocha is the world´s largest language learning community with over five million registered users. I created an account and I selected American English (there was not British English). I checked L7 and L8 levels but there were not English lessons. In L5 level I selected and listened a short video “What language is spoken there?”
    I searched around “my lessons” and “help others” sections and the good thing was that I could find free content of listening, speaking and reading activities. Corrections were provided by native speakers and I could correct some activities of people learning Spanish. But my doubt is if the corrections are done by trained teachers. I did not find the answer in this CoP.
    I found something that I really did not like: there was a considerable informal language in this learning community (at least in American English).
    David

  3. Thank you Javier,
    I liked your entry a lot. I agree with you about the idea of Livemocha’s users being enthusiasts of language learning… I am one of those! Particularly I loved the idea of playing the role of a teacher of Spanish for people so eager to learn it, whether for fun, travel or professional purposes. Besides, the idea of a social network with members so focused in the same interest of loving and learning language makes it a tool for meeting new people with many things in common… best way to begin a friendship!
    Regards,
    David.

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