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Language Learning Reviews: Livemocha and Duolingo

Language Learning Reviews: Livemocha and Duolingo

Language Learning Program Reviews

A match made in polyglot heaven?

Today, I want to draw attention to two language learning programs that I have used and think highly of.  One of the greatest things about these sites, is that they are free.  That’s right, FREE.  In light of Rosetta Stone, and the thousands of other sites who claim to be the best, DuoLingo and LiveMocha are two of the best language learning programs in my opinion. This article is my DuoLingo and LiveMocha review.

In taking a closer look at the two, it would be easy to just do an overall comparison rate one as the best and leave it at that.  However, I don’t think there is one solution to language learning.  In addition, I also believe that people can benefit from using multiple methods to learn a new language.  By now, you should have plenty enough reason to learn a second language.

Both LiveMocha and DuoLingo are free and accessible online you just need a valid email address to sign up.  These two programs use different methods to language learning, which is great.  This language learning review is intended to show you the pros and cons of the 2 programs and show you where using both can benefit you in the language learning process.  These are just two of the programs that I know about, if you know any other good programs, please share below!

LiveMocha Review

LiveMocha user interface.  Learn Farsi 101

To be totally honest, my history with LiveMocha runs far deeper than DuoLingo.  I only recently discovered DuoLingo thanks to a friend.  I started using LiveMocha after returning from my first European adventure.  Like most monoglot travelers, I was frustrated that I couldn’t communicate in another language outside of my own so I picked up Spanish.  Spanish was the first logical choice for me because I took a class in it in high school and had been exposed to the Latin culture living in the Southern US.  After 6 months of consistent use, I can honestly say that LiveMocha was a large contributor to my development in Spanish.  I became conversational, on an intermediate level, during that time.  Here is my take on LiveMocha’s pros and cons:

LiveMocha Pros

  • Extensive network of language speakers.  This is quite helpful depending on which language you are learning.  You can exchange lessons with these people for a mutual benefit.
  • Very social.  From the comment bars to the other various features, LiveMocha is like a Facebook for languages.
  • many languages
  • Goal oriented. LiveMocha is very goal-oriented meaning that it shows your accomplishments and rewards you with points for completions.
  • Strong sense of community. In conjunction with the social aspect of LiveMocha, you get the chance to build up friends and community.  I took a few random lessons in other languages and received messages from people who had graded my previous assignments asking me how my progress was and why I hadn’t made any recent submissions.  They cared about my development.
  • LiveMocha is very dynamic. You can push yourself as far as you want to go with the writing exercises.  For example, you can use new verbs and vocabulary from the lessons, or you can look up new words to complete the exercises.
  • LiveMocha is user-friendly. From the start, LiveMocha is easy to use.  It takes a little effort to create a profile and sign up for a course.  Once you do, you can easily find your language lessons.
  • Lots of Languages. The last time that I checked, LiveMocha had around 35 languages, many more than other sites. This gives you a lot of options.One of the major pros of LiveMocha is that they have a large list of languages to choose from.  Pictured here is just part of the list.

LiveMocha cons

  • You need a base for some languages. If you have a base for the language that you want to learn, then you will be in good shape. LiveMocha doesn’t provide any alphabets or pronunciation guides for some languages.  If you don’t know the alphabet, LiveMocha can be extremely challenging.
  • Limited vocabulary.  I think that LiveMocha falls short in some vocabulary.  It doesn’t provide any more practice words, only what is in the given lesson.  Therefore, you will likely need to use a dictionary in conjunction with the site.
  • Not all tenses are present. LiveMocha doesn’t do a great job of outlining the tenses.  Several of the major tenses are present on the site in different lessons, but there isn’t an in-depth description or overview of them.
  • Lessons stop at course 202. LiveMocha has 4 courses for each language.  101, 102, 201, 202, after that, you need to move on to other sources.  There are some more activities for practice on the site, but little further learning potential most just for maintenance and practice.
  • Seller attitude.  A small downside, but one worth mentioning is that LiveMocha tries to sell people on their products.  I don’t personally have a problem with this, after all it is a business.  I just found it noteworthy because I wanted to let you know that I think their basic courses are sufficient for learning.LiveMocha has flashcards to practice vocabulary that you are weak in.

My thoughts on LiveMocha

LiveMocha is a great resource.  It gets mega thumbs up for its sense of community, variety of languages, and user-friendly interface.  LiveMocha lacks in some departments, but is overall a great resource for language learners.

Duo LingoThe homepage of Duolingo.  Notice the signature owl, and the languages offered for the site.

I am new to DuoLingo, but I think that we still have some time to spend together yet.  DuoLingo is a simple, yet effective, concept to language learning. Here is my take on DuoLingo in pros and cons form:

DuoLingo Pros

  • Complex vocabulary and tests.  DuoLingo does one thing well, there are multiple lessons for each language.  The list is quite extensive by different subjects, categories, and verb tenses.  A great way to improve your vocabulary.
  • It is challenging. The lessons aren’t just there like other programs: they challenge you.  If you make to many mistakes you have to start over.  LiveMocha does grade you also, but you can always pass even if your percentage is low.  Once you finish a lesson on DuoLingo it will tell you your weaknesses and areas needing improvement.
  • Gamer-style. Gamers would love DuoLingo, it is set up just like one.  You can level up, and if you try to test out of a level, you only have 3 hearts (lives) before it is game over.  Then, you have to start again, too many failures and you have to take all the lessons.
  • It pesters you.  Like a good teacher, DuoLingo makes sure you are still studying.  If you have been consistently logging on to the site, it will send you emails if you skip a day, letting you know that the owl is sad because you didn’t do your daily lesson.  It is a good little reminder, even if you don’t have time.
  • It is very simple to use.  There are no distractions in DuoLingo.  It is straightforward and easy to use.DuoLingo's interface is very simple with complex vocabulary lessons.

DuoLingo Cons

  • Only a few languages. DuoLingo only has Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian.  Thus, it is very Euro-centric and heavy on the Romantic languages.  It won’t be much use to someone who wishes to learn an eastern language.
  • There isn’t much community.  DuoLingo is really a personal use site.  There is a “Discussion”section, but it isn’t one-on-one learning.  More just for posting questions.  This isn’t all bad because it keeps the website clutter free, but don’t expect to make ‘friends’ like on LiveMocha.

My thoughts on DuoLingo

I think DuoLingo is a really strong vocabulary and verb builder for the basic Western European languages listed.  I will definitely continue to use it in the future and will recommend it to others as well.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, both websites are great resources for language learners and aspiring linguists.  I think that the best way to learn a language is to utilize as many sources as possible and/or available to you.  Thereby, a learner gets a well-rounded picture not just one method or set of words.  I think that both LiveMocha and DuoLingo can be used in conjunction for fantastic results, in the common languages of course.

A listing of a few language learning links.Here are a few more articles that you might enjoy reading: How to practice a language; which language should I learn? And last, but not least, words and phrases that you should know in every language.

 

Thanks for stopping by, I’m glad to have you as a reader!

 

Tell us what you think!

Which of these language learning reviews helped you most? Let us know what you think below!

 

Hey there amigo! Did you enjoy my article? If you did and think that others will too, please take a moment to connect with me on social media. I’d appreciate it! Have a good day :) 

**Tags: live mocha review, duolingo review**

 


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12 comments

  1. Andy, I teach ESL to adults, and I agree with you wholeheartedly that there’s no one best approach. Just as life comes at us from many different angles, so do our needs to respond. Another free program that is accessible online through various libraries is Mango Languages. Thanks for the good info.

    Carroll Devine

    • I have used Mango Languages also, I think that Mango is a great free program, but it is only available through libraries. I am not sure if you can access it from home? Thanks for stopping by Carroll, hope all is well!

  2. I’ve been studying languages for many years and I realized that the best solution is practising with native people even if it is expensive :((

  3. I have been using it for a while now and find it really good. I’m interested to see how we can use it in schools. http://www.freetechforschools.com/2013/04/duolingo-excellent-language-learning.html

    • I find it to be really nice also Johny. I think schools will be able to use a lot of online media to develop language learning for students. It is also interesting to see the future of Duolingo-style websites. For example, did you know that LiveMocha just merged with Rosetta Stone? I’ll be interested to see where that goes.

  4. A key difference between LiveMocha and all the other learning sites like these is that LiveMocha offers Portuguese – EUROPEAN Portuguese; every other site I look at offers Brazilian Portuguese only. Living in Portugal, there are big differences in pronunciation and also meanings of some words between Brazilian & European Portuguese. So for anyone learning European Portuguese, LiveMocha appears to be the only free, online, option.

    • Agreed Marian. That is one of the problems that you run into with language learning websites such as LiveMocha and/or Duolingo, especially with expansive languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, French, and even English for that matter. In my time studying Spanish I have definitely noticed this problem with the lack of education towards international Spanish rather than a regional dialect. Everyone has their words and accents that makes it harder to follow. LiveMocha has changed some with the new design. It is still free, but not as free as it used to be. You have to get little credit points and things that end up being a pain (although you can win some for studying a language). I am not fond of the new layout yet either.

    • Hi Marian! I can understand your frustration, but different dialects do not make languages any less understandable. In fact, I think it makes language all the more interesting. Granted, it may take a little extra thought, but dialects are a part of every language in the world and that will be a teensy barrier eventually, no matter which one you learn.

      I grew up in Texas and I took Spanish in high school. I remember being bemused that I was living in Houston with a high Mexican population (at the time, my own boyfriend was Mexican and all these years later, we’re still friends… but I digress), yet I was learning Spain Spanish rather than Mexican Spanish. However, as my understanding of language grew, it occurred to me that it didn’t matter because it is still the same. Just like British English vs. Australian English vs. American English vs. Southern American English vs. Boston American English vs. Midwestern English vs. Scottish English vs. Irish English vs., … on and on. It’s still the same language: English. We all happily converse no matter where we’re from. :)

  5. Try both sites again, this year, and you may change your mind!

    Just my opinion, but duolingo keeps getting better, with its same pluses and new languages being added now every few weeks.

    livemocha is just the opposite. Maybe I am missing something, but it is now awful. The old lessons are gone. Although the new lessons seem pretty good, the interface is stifling. I just revisited it for the first time in several months, but I could not find any way to look for language partners, for instance. What has Rosetta Stone done? I’ll try it again after my frustration diminishes, as perhaps I’m missing some facet of the interface that will save things, but it does not look good.

    I’ll re-comment if it looks better as time goes by.

  6. Great write up and review. You’re very thorough. I have to say that I tried LiveMocha and was very interested in it, then suddenly they cut me off saying that for me to advance I had to switch to paid. They did the same to my daughter and my son. We felt stabbed in the back. From what I’m reading here, it sounds as though they lost a lot of us and backtracked on that paid thing. Moments ago, I tried logging back in to see what has changed and to my dismay, they say I’m not a member, but I still got those annoying spam emails!

    Though I’ve not played it long at all, I prefer Duolingo. To begin with its present business model is set up to remain free on all levels. That alone makes it worth it. Also, there was a study done which says that playing Duolingo for on average 34 hours is equal of that to a semester in college for language learning. It can be as short as 26 hours but as long as 49 hours. If you’re studying for travel, then you’re in luck because it also says those people learned faster than those for general interest (I’m a general interest user, that’s too bad).

    No. I don’t work for Duolingo nor have any business relationship with them whatsoever, outside of just being a plain ‘ol user. In fact, I’m a new Duolingo user (CindyLloyd1, if you look for me). It’s just that I did a lot of research on them before I started because I didn’t want to get burned like I did with LiveMocha.

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