language learning gone global

Picture this: you’re at a Spanish restaurant and you decide that this would be a good time to practice speaking. You order from the menu in that specific language and as you wait for your food to arrive, you make small talk with waiters who occasionally come to refill your drinks. But then you realize that you’re starting to stumble over your words because you can’t quite catch what the waiter is saying and your brain can’t process the information quickly enough. Instead of seeming like an intelligent and smooth speaker, you come off sounding confused.

Learning a new language is always exciting and challenging, but most of the learning takes place in a classroom setting with other students. Students often don’t get enough time to actually practice with their fellow classmates, which results in lackluster conversational skills. With the help of Livemocha, people have the opportunity to practice speaking the language to their heart’s content.

Livemocha is an online community for people around the world to come together and practice speaking a foreign language. The website offers free and paid online courses in 35 languages to more than 8.5 million members.

In order to create an account, put down languages you speak natively, languages you speak fluently, languages you’re currently learning and your proficiency level in those languages. When I created my account, for example, I put down Spanish as the language I’m learning and put myself at an intermediate level because I’ve taken Spanish for four years.

The site includes four different options for practice: phase arcade, writing practice, speaking practice and flashcards. I decided to do a writing exercise first where the topic was to introduce myself.

You receive points called mochapoints for completing lessons in your courses and completing writing and speaking submissions. There is also a teacher score where you’re awarded points if you leave helpful submission reviews, help with translations, create flashcard sets and earn positive ratings.

The second writing exercise after introducing yourself is to describe six different people using positive and negative descriptive words. There’s a specific topic for each speaking exercise and a short passage is given for you to record and repeat word for word.

One example is El niño se cortó el pulgar al preparar la cena. Me gustaría hacer más ejercicio para tener más músculos. (The boy cut his thumb while preparing dinner. I would like to do more exercise for more muscles).

While reviewing submissions, people can correct mistakes and give helpful suggestions, tips and comments. For writing exercises, there is a five-star rating system for spelling, proficiency and grammar. For speaking exercises, there are pronunciation and proficiency.

Besides these activities, you can also enroll in four-leveled courses with a free three-day trial first. The courses are about $29 for each month or $149 for a year.

The website also allows you to chat with people and has a built-in translator to make practicing your language easier. There is a section called “Help Others” where you can review people’s submissions and choose what language you want the submissions to be in. You can also choose which exercise type you would like to review.

Creating an account and using Livemocha is definitely a worthwhile experience because it allows you to practice a language more efficiently. With online language learning and practice with native speakers, Livemocha beats just the usual exercises and tests at school. It also solves the problem of trying to find a place where you can practice speaking the language with native speakers.

Unless you plan on traveling abroad frequently, the opportunity to talk with native speakers is hard to come by. Instead, just go to to create an account and get your practice there easily and conveniently.