Language Learning Program Reviews
A match made in polyglot heaven?
UPDATE: This article was written several years ago before Rosetta Stone purchased LiveMocha. My opinions of LiveMocha are no longer good. I’d recommend only using DuoLingo, which is a great free language learning software for several European languages. LiveMocha used to be a great tool and resource, but has been overly complicated and changed for the worse by Rosetta Stone.
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 in the comments section below!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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**Tags: live mocha review, duolingo review**