In a post dated April 30, I created an action plan for one of my bucket list items. I was sincerely interested in getting it done, and even purchased a book to help me out, but time got away from me. And besides, my preferred learning style is more interactive. I needed a web program to help me in my efforts. As of that date, I hadn’t found anything else. Below, I talk about this experience.
Back in 2008, after leaving a career that was ready to leave me, I was ready to do something new….anything to take my mind off the disappointment. My something new was learning a new language. I had already learned Spanish and French in high school and college, and I was not willing to re-tread that path. Instead, I chose Portuguese, a close cousin of Spanish. I chose it because I was interested in it (having received spam-like emails in Portuguese-or what I was able to recognize as Portuguese-compelled me to at least become familiar with it) and because no one else was doing it….always a good enough reason for me to try anything new. The new language learning effort lasted all of two months….mainly because I got a new job and started classes toward a master’s degree. But last May, I resumed studying Portuguese. Instead of using a book and audio CDs like I did last time, I went online.
The first resource I used was Mango Languages Online, available through my public library. Mango languages has over 29 languages available to learn and contains great interactive pieces to get users excited about language learning. While Mango was a great starting point for me, I needed a more social experience. For that, I found LiveMocha. LiveMocha offers the ultimate experience in language learning. In addition to basic and intermediate grammar and vocabulary instruction, the site also offers writing and speaking practice, constant feedback among users, and the opportunity to help others master YOUR native language. Users can friend other people and chat online in the target language. And another great bonus: you can earn virtual coins for helping others out and mastering your learning modules, that can be used to purchase various items on the site. If you choose, you can share your learning experience to Facebook and/or Twitter. As a result of using this site, I have improved my written and spoken Portuguese..but I wanted to do more. I still feel that I need more practice in intermediate Portuguese.
I recently met someone in my workplace who is a native Brazilian. We were assigned to another work area for the rest of the Friday afternoon, and we started talking. I noticed her accent and asked where she was from. Heck, I thought she was from India or the Middle East. When she said Brazil, I immediately smiled and said, “voce fala portugues.” She was happy that someone was trying to learn her language, and we started conversing using bits and pieces of Portuguese. While she was helping me with my Portuguese, I was helping her with English. She asked me how I was learning Portuguese. I told her about LiveMocha. Although she had heard of it through her own set of friends, she suggested another site….Busuu.
Yesterday, I signed up for Busuu. Busuu is another language learning community on the par of LiveMocha, but this particular site offers ADVANCED lessons, in addition to basic and intermediate. If one wants to upgrade to premium, there are some other great features to enhance the learning experience. I cannot speak to how effective Busuu is at the moment, but if the comments of my co-worker and her friend are anything to go by, it should be good. More later.