One of my best students, Douglas Corr, has recently sent me this email about Livemocha. His email was so thorough and the information so well explained that I thought it deserved to be reproduced "verbatim":
I read about Livemocha in the buisiness pages of the Independent about 10 days ago, it was in an article about a business venture with Harper Collins.
It's roughly a sort of Facebook for language learning ( I think there are 35 languages!).
It has free functionality as well as stuff that you have to pay for. I have been investigating the free functions for Italian and German. It seems to me to be suitable for beginers up to around the level of our class, but I think there is possibly unlimited potential for conversation.
Basically there are:
* Written exercises
* Spoken exercises
* Flip cards
The written and spoken exercises are marked by native speakers who are other learners and who select which ones they mark; this means you are not guaranteed to get your work marked (but see friends below).
You improve your status on the site by doing exercises and by marking exercises - you get a score and various awards.
To make progress you need to find others learning English so that they can help you and you can help them in return - these people become your friends. This helps you to get your things marked. So I tried to find Italians and Germans learning English, and I now have 12 friends! I marked so much stuff last week I became English Tutor of the Week! This will help to ensure that my requests to be a friend don't get rejected. I have had some very kind encouraging comments from people...
I haven't tried the Chat yet (with microphone); this seems to me to be potentially the most useful -although a bit daunting to start... My objective is to try this out before the end of March.
There seems to be a vast number of people from all countries learning English, especially from China, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Roumania and Russia. There is a much smaller number learning German and less still learning Italian.
I'm sure you will find this an exciting learning tool for students.