Thursday, July 30, 2009

LiveMocha Update

I had previously blogged about LiveMocha, the international community of people studying languages and helping one another, and I'm really enjoying it!

I enrolled in the (free) beginning French class, after realizing just how rusty I had become - in spite of three years of High School study, a French-Canadian wife, and years of practice with my sainted (and très Française) grandmother-in-law who didn't speak English. Mrs. H. and I are trying to speak as much French as we can at home to help Garçon de Lion pick up his ancestral tongue with as much facility as possible.

So far, I am 55% done with French 101. It is a very helpful review, which I'm supplementing with another French text.

The really cool thing about LiveMocha is having native speakers (and also fellow students) critique your writing and speaking - as well as the ability to do live chat (which I have not done) and written messages with your "friends."

And some of my "friends" really are becoming friends - not to mention excellent language instructors.
  • Andréanne is a 15-year old Québecoise who is native in French, fluent in English, and intermediate in Spanish. She is a meticulous and thorough tutor, lavish with praise, and equally unflinching with criticism.
  • Eric is a 36-year old Swiss who is native in French and a beginner in English, German, Spanish, and Russian.
  • HoSeok is a North Korean who is (obviously) native in Korean, as well as being advanced in English. He is a beginner in Russian, Farsi, Esperanto, German, and Arabic!
  • Jean Marie is a real character, a 60-year old French musician and artist who lives in a small house near Bordeaux and is building a shed to use as a studio. He is a huge help with my French, and he is also an intermediate student of English.
  • Louis is a really helpful tutor. He is a native Québecois who has lived in British Columbia for more than 20 years. He is about my age, is a member of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), is native in French, fluent in English, and is himself a beginner in Spanish and Italian. He is always very encouraging and thorough.
  • Micrurus is a 30-year old Peruvian guy who is native in Spanish, fluent in Latin (!), English, and German, is intermediate in Sanskrit (!) and French, and is a beginner in Russian, Portuguese, and Italian.
  • Vladimir is a 31-year old Russian who is a beginner in English. He often submits his work to me for evaluation and review - and he works very hard to get the pronunciation and accent right. His dedication is quite an inspiration, especially given the difficulty and quirks of English - which of course uses a different alphabet than his native language.
I have other friends as well, some of whom are native and fluent in Scandinavian languages. LiveMocha does not currently have a Swedish course, but I am looking forward to when they do (they do have a lot of Scandinavian members) so I can brush up on it as well.

LiveMocha currently offers classes in Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Ukranian - with more courses on the way.

Each time you submit an exercise to be reviewed, you are expected to review the work of an English student - which generally takes only a couple minutes. It is all about give and take, about learning from, and with, a worldwide community, alongside people of every imaginable background and cultural circumstance.

I continue to be impressed, and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn, review, or practice languages - or if you just want to make international friends. LiveMocha is très cool!

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