When it comes to learning or becoming fluent in a new language, it isn't always easy. It becomes even more difficult if you don't live in a country where that language is the native tongue.
However, thanks to the Internet, there are ways for you to practice what you've learned in your study of a new language. Conversational practice is the most effective means to improve and enhance your ability to write and speak another language. Internet technologies lend themselves to this sort of practice. With instant messaging (chatting), writing to forums and other tools, the Internet provides you with the perfect "practice area" for polishing up your language education.
There are new sites appearing online every now and then to fill the niche of language education, and one of those is an active and growing community of language enthusiasts called Livemocha
. With Livemocha, you can learn new vocabulary in a foreign language, take part in helpful conversations, and even help other people across the world learn your native language.
Signing Up for Livemocha
You can sign up for a Livemocha account right from the main page of the site. It's apparent right from the sign-up process that Livemocha is more than just about learning a new language. It's also about helping others become fluent in the language they would like to learn as well. Once you choose your native language, and the language you would like to learn, just enter your preferred password and you're done.
Setting up Your Profile
Setting up your profile is a quick two-step process. After adding your profile picture and typing your name and location, you can choose the primary reason you're using Livemocha. If you're interested more in learning a new language, just select your reason for wanting to learn that new skill. If you're more interested in educating other members in how to speak your native language better, that's an option as well. There is also a third option where you can just opt to use Livemocha as a social network to meet other people that are as interested in languages as you are.
Your Main Profile Page
Once you've confirmed your account via email and you log back into your profile, you'll find that your main profile page is a dashboard of sorts. You'll see your total point score (which you can increase by taking flashcard tests or helping others improve their language skills), a list of your recent activities, as well as the main links at the top to check messages and visit the other main areas of the site, such as the learning area. However, the fastest way to navigate Livemocha is scrolling down the page slighting and using the navigational buttons.
Navigating the Website
Halfway down your profile page are the quick links to the sections of the website that you'll use most often. These include the area where you can learn new languages. There's also a chat area where you can talk to anyone at all that's online at the moment and is fluent in your chosen language. You can also go directly to the speaking practice page where you can make a recording and have member feedback about how well you did, and of course you can enter the "Help Others" area where you
can offer your native language fluency to assist others in learning that language.
The Livemocha account that you get for free doesn't generally cover the detailed courses offered on the website. If you want to use the premium courses to enhance your language education, you can purchase those or upgrade your account. However, there are
free flash card lessons that members create, which are free for you to take whenever you wish. Just browse through the list of posted flash card lessons and choose the one under the topic that you prefer.
Flash Card Lessons
These flash card lessons consist of a series of vocabulary, usually following a specific theme or topic. You have a set amount of time to try and translate the word into your native language. Every time you get it right, you earn the number of points that card is worth. This may not be very useful to you if you're just starting to learn a language and don't know any of the vocabulary at all, but if you're even just a moderate speaker, these flash cards help you advance your vocabulary through repetition and memorization. It may not be as good as the paid courses, but it is free.
In the practice sections of Livemocha, you have the ability to practice either writing or speaking the language you're trying to learn. The writing section has a series of topic lists for you to focus you writing on. All you have to do is write a few sentences or a paragraph on the question or topic, and then click submit. Other members of the Livemocha community will critique the accuracy and clarity of your use of their native language, and they will also give you some tips and feedback on how you can improve.
While taking classes and studying a language is an important part of becoming multi-lingual, there is no more valuable resource than getting feedback and insight from the people that speak that language fluently every day.
The speaking practice area is even more valuable than the writing practice area. Here, you can record yourself stating a paragraph that's written in the language you're trying to learn. Doing this allows you to show other members not only that you understand the language, but also how well you reproduce the correct tones and accents that make up the spoken language as well. When you submit your audio recording, native speakers will give you feedback on how well you did, and ways that you can improve how you speak the language. This is an excellent resource, because it stretches your understanding of the language beyond just the written word, and into an area where you can really improve your conversational use of the new language.
Help Others Learn
The nice thing about the free part of Livemocha is that it's a two way exchange of information. You can improve your own understanding of a foreign language by interacting with native speakers of that language. However, an important aspect of the community is that you give back to it by volunteering some of your time to help other members gain a better appreciation of your native tongue.
Being a native speaker of a language that somebody else wants to learn is an important position to hold, because you have the opportunity to help someone better their lives by improving their speaking and writing skills in another language. So, while you may take advantage of what the community can offer you, don't forget to give a little bit back as well.
Meet Other People
Finally, keep in mind that Livemocha is a social network just like any other. So, when you're not busy either learning your new language or teaching someone else how to speak or write in your native language, you can meet new friends from all around the world. Just click on the "chat" link on your profile page, and choose from a list of members that are online, and who speak the language you're trying to learn. Not only do you get practice using your new language, but you also get to meet and learn about lives and cultures that you probably never imagined.
The Internet is a powerful way that the world is quickly connecting. It transcends international borders and beliefs, and now with language learning websites like Livemocha, it connects the people of the world together in a collaborative space where we are all part of one world community, helping one another advance and grow together.
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