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May 2014

Education Review: Livemocha

When Livemocha was first launched on September 24, 2007, it was touted as the “Rosetta Stone killer”, a free online service offering lessons and critiques from native speakers around the world. Initial users could go through a series of introductory lessons, each one corrected by someone fluent in the target language. In turn, learners critique other lessons in their own language to gain points and access to more lessons. It’s a phenomenal model, and it comes as little surprise that Rosetta Stone acquired the Seattle startup in 2013.

Since then, it seems both Rosetta Stone and Livemocha have benefitted from their marriage. Rosetta Stone has since implemented a social element to its program, while a huge company now backs Livemocha, meaning it can offer more premium, better looking content.

Livemocha provides lessons for over 35 languages via virtual group classrooms or instructor-led training for organizations. Online lessons are still a major part of Livemocha. Users can purchase new lessons with the points they've earned or "beans" that they've accumulated. Users correct lessons to earn more points, then spend the points on new lessons for themselves. It’s a structure that promotes community involvement and participation. Users can also cultivate a list of language partners on the site as well.

Is Livemocha better than Rosetta Stone?

Livemocha is partially free and Rosetta Stone is quite expensive, making Livemocha initially more appealing. Still, Rosetta Stone is a more powerful system that has its own methodology of instruction (images, phrases and sounds only -- one learns like a child learns). Livemocha’s lessons can sometimes seem a bit basic, though there is more grammar and handholding in the lessons than Rosetta Stone will ever provide. Rosetta Stone, on the other hand, focuses on intuition and gradual learning to help a learner progress. Additionally, as one dives deeper into Livemocha, some monetary investment is most likely required.

Which system works best depends on which style a learner prefers. Thankfully, it’s easy to try Livemocha, and a free trial of Rosetta Stone is also available at their website. Because Rosetta Stone is so expensive, it’s worth trying it for a few minutes to see if it’s really compatible with your learning style. After all, language learning is more about persistence and dedication, and getting at it a little bit every day; even the most low-tech solutions like flashcards and textbooks can be a better choice if that is your preferred learning style.

Have you tried Livemocha or Rosetta Stone? Let us know on ourFacebook page and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles about language learning tips and tools!

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