Spanish con Leche – Livemocha ACTIVE SPANISH

Spanish con Leche
Livemocha ACTIVE SPANISH
Online Subscription (plus 4 handy books)
Merriam Webster, HarperCollins, 2011

Merriam-Webster, America’s leading dictionary publisher,
has teamed up with Livemocha — the world’s largest online language
penpal community — and HarperCollins, the UK-based dictionary
and language learning publisher, to launch a new type of language
learning program.
Livemocha Active Courses incorporate a social dimension to the
language learning process with a six-month membership to a
Livemocha course online, connecting the user with a network of over
nine million native speakers and instructors. The online element provides
a fun, interactive environment for users to practice their new
language and share cultural tips with language partners worldwide-24
hours a day. Each course, available in Spanish, French, German, and
Italian, includes four full-color companion books -beginner to intermediate
- for those times when you can’t get to a computer.
Livemocha ActiveSpanish must be one of the most user-friendly
language learning programs around — within 10 minutes of opening
the box, I was already receiving feedback from native Spanish speakers
all around the world on my first completed unit. Their response
was pretty complimentary so I decided to up my level, expecting that
it might be easier said than done. I was wrong — it was as easy as
clicking on a tab or two and I was off again. Learning in a vacuum
has never been my forte even though I love to read and write.
LiveMocha quickly gives you the opportunity to have your recorded
roleplays reviewed by an “expert” for the cost of a few “tokens”
(about a dollar or you can earn tokens by helping out learners of your
mother tongue) or you can opt for review by native speakers (eager
to earn tokens). The system works surprisingly well and feedback is
almost instantaneous.
In each unit, you receive multiple exposures to target vocabulary
and grammatical structures, which some learners may find a bit
repetitive but you can move on to the next example with just one
click if you’re that way inclined. The video quality is professional with
attractive and personable actors that wouldn’t look out of place in a
telenovela. There’s a good mix of listening and reading comprehension
with simple “drag & drop” answering which relieves the drag of
typing. Actually, the program requires remarkable little typing which is
a big bonus.
At the end of each unit, you are asked to roleplay in creating a
conversation after a short example which may seem daunting for
some learners but you can have as many tries as you like, and all
practice helps.
The Spanish program reviewed was Latin American Spanish but
no mention was made of this on any of the materials (even though it
was obvious by the subject matter of the units) so check to make
sure that you are choosing the right program for your circumstances.
Livemocha Active Spanish offers a simple, effective means of
improving grammar, vocabulary and fluency with the killer dimension
of interactivity with native speakers that adds the spark of motivation
so often missing in self-study programs. It is highly recommended as
a supplemental learning program. — Daniel Ward

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