Wanderlust Revelation: Livemocha

By Carey Reed Zamarriego

by jetheriot

(una versión en español está abajo)
There we were huddled on the train platform in the bitter cold, snowflakes falling and latching onto our eyelashes and making it harder to see by the second. We were waiting for instructions from the conductor and when they came, we were told we would board a second train, go one more stop, and board a third train to make it to our final destinations. 


It is no secret that New York (actually the entire US Northeast) has been pounded by one major snowstorm after another (and even some ice and windstorms to vary the mix) this winter. A lot of daily commuters into NYC (me being one of them) have had to endure train delays, mid-ride malfunctions and having to wait out in the harsh elements while the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) troubleshoots. And here we were waiting again. 
As we shuffled through the rising snow into the station’s sole warm room on the platform, many riders began to complain about the MTA, one rider outraged that this was happening in the US of all places. I chimed in saying that in my time living abroad, even in Barcelona (and that’s Spain!) I had never encountered the number of problems the clanky, outdated trains on MTA had brought this winter. 

This led to a discussion with my fellow commuter about living abroad (his daughter is currently in Holland) and language study (he’s learning Dutch for an upcoming visit). But what was most interesting, is the way he is learning, through Livemocha. It’s an online language learning social network that matches language learners with native speakers to brush up on their language skills or start fresh for FREE.

When I finally got home that wintry night and changed out of my damp clothes, I signed up to Livemocha and started to brush up on my French. I may have a BA in French, but my Francais, after years in Spain has morphed into a very unattractive and slightly unintelligible hybrid, aka Sprench. So, I started looking over FREE online flashcards, did a quiz and practiced writing with a short narrative about myself, which I shot out into the Livemocha atmosphere to get feedback from native speakers.

Livemocha, a small Seattle, WA startup also recently partnered with Pearson and Collins (leading education resource companies) to offer members formal language classes at a cost. But, it is possible to work on your foreign language writing, reading and conversation skills for free with the flashcards, quizzes and feedback via emails or live chat on Skype from native speakers. And anyone who has studied a language knows, the only way to master one is by speaking it over, and over, and over again–with native speakers, of course!

Free online language learning with native speakers.
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(la versión en español)
Fue una noche terrible, estaba nevando mucho y estabamos en el anden esperando instrucciones del revisor del tren. Todos nosotros acabamos de trabajar ocho horas y solo queriamos regresar a casa. Al final, el revisor nos aviso que ibamos a coger otro tren (porque habian problemas mecanicas con el tren que acabamos de bajar) irnos una parada mas donde ibamos a coger otro tren para llegar a nuestros destinaciones.

No es un secreto que Nueva York y el noreste de EEUU ha sufrido muchas tormentas durante el invierno este anyo. Mucha gente que coje el tren cada dia para irse a Manhattan (incluyendo yo misma) ya ha aguantado retrasos de los trenes, problemas mecanicas y tambien esperando en el fuerte frio invernal mientras el MTA (el autoridad de transporte de NYC) resuelven problemas. Y aqui estabamos de nuevo, esperando, en el frio y la nieve…

Mientras esperabamos ha surgido muchas quejas. La queja mas grande fue que todo el mundo no podia comprender como estaban pasando cosas asi en el EEUU, no somos el numero #1? (pues, no!) Cuando la gente comenzo a decir eso yo estaba de acuerdo y anyadi que vivi en Espanya y nunca habian problemas asi y que los trenes ahi eran mas modernos que los de EEUU.

Cuando mencione que vivi en Espanya un hombre empezo a hablar conmigo sobre vivir al extranjero y estudiar otro idioma. Su hija ahora esta viviendo en Holanda y el esta estudiando holandes porque se va a visitar a su hija mas adelante. Pero lo mas interesante es la manera que el esta estudiando. El utiliza Livemocha, un red social que junta nativos y gente que esta estudiando idiomas a traves de su pagina web y Skype. Se puede escoger de una lista de mas de 50 idiomas para practicar y tienen tarjetas de vocabulario online, se puede hacer pruebas online y tener conversaciones por Skype con nativos y todo es GRATIS!*

Y la manera de dominar un idioma es practicar con nativos!

*si quieres hacer cursos formales con Pearson o Collins se tiene que pagar y hay otros servicios adicionales que tienen un precio*

Aprende un idioma con la ayuda de nativos, GRATIS!
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