Livemocha merges with Rosetta Stone to change how we learn languages

Rosetta Stone is one of the most popular pieces of software for learning languages at home, with a huge variety of languages available at a cost. There are a bundle of alternatives as well, including some online linguistic communities; today one of those online alternatives is gone, with Rosetta Stone having taken over.

For those unaware, Livemocha existed as an online community of linguists, and people were encouraged to learn through it. The email sent by Livemocha CEO Michael Schutzler indicates that the service isn't disappearing, but is rather combining forces with Rosetta Stone for everyone's sake.

At present the Livemocha website seems to be online and fully functional, and this will not change. However, the email makes reference to a "new product experience" that has been in the works for more than two years. The new takeover doesn't seem to make a difference to this, for the email makes no mention of any changes to their future.

The email makes mention of more announcements for the future, so it would appear the two companies are joining with some kind of hope for the work they will do. The complete email follows below:

Dear Livemocha community member,

Over the past five years, Livemocha has grown into a supportive, global community of over 16 million members, working together to learn, teach, and practice a new language. The learning experience that each of you creates makes Livemocha effective, meaningful, and fun.

We are passionate about building a world in which every person is fluent in multiple languages, and today, I am thrilled to announce that we have taken the next step towards that goal.

After months of hard work and preparation, Livemocha has agreed to merge with Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone has built one of the most durable and well-known education brands in the world. They have created powerful technology-based language learning solutions that are the envy of the industry. By combining our strengths, our technologies, and our dedicated focus to serve you well, we will transform the world of learning.

Please rest assured that Livemocha will continue to be the learning experience, product, and community you know and love.

Indeed, Livemocha – in partnership with Rosetta Stone - will now offer more languages, add powerful new tools, and become available on more devices than ever before. And, thanks to your feedback and the participation and the support of the talented team at Rosetta Stone, we will continue to roll out the brand new product experience that we have been building and testing over the past two years. Stay tuned for more announcements soon!

We are and always will be committed to building a world without barriers.

Michael Schutzler
CEO Livemocha Inc.

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Unfortunately both are pretty bad. The amount of time you have to invest in a software solution (online or offline) is enormous. Taking a simple class teaches you the basics much, much faster (and in the case of Rosetta Stone much cheaper too).

There is no single best way to learn a language. The most effective method varies, especially from age to age. For adult language learners, it's still a developing science.

Classrooms themselves can be ineffective in the long term, as anyone who studied a language in high school might tell you. Learning at intervals (an hour or two here and there, a few times a week) is sluggish and discouraging if the language doesn't follow you past the classroom--that's why immersion is so highly regarded and students learning through exchange programs overwhelmingly out-perform students learning at home.

The nice thing about these computer systems (Rosetta Stone, Livemocha) is that they abandon the confines of a class schedule and give a disciplined student a chance to study as often as they want. Still, that requires discipline, which is another speed bump for many people.

There's just no clear best way, and when it comes down to it, the person who learns a language best is the person who focuses the most on the effort, whatever the means.

Well of course, but I was mostly targeting specific intensive language courses. I did one year of Danish in an evening class, starting from no knowledge. After this course (at four hours per week) I find myself able to understand the majority of clearly spoken Danish (like a news broadcast) and can easily have a conversation in Danish. Those classes were much better than the French, English and German I learned in high school though. After a total of 8 years of at least four hours of French I still feel quite limited when actually speaking it because it was all just read/write and a bit of listening, with very little actual speaking.

Immersion still is the best way to learn a language, but these systems like Rosetta Stone and LiveMocha just aren't very efficient.

That doesn't apply to everyone, there are simply too many factors, including cultural background and how much does a language resembles another, for example chinese people have a lot of trouble trying to express themselves on english due the fact their language has not a lot of particles that join sentences like in english. I learned English alone (no courses taken) by playing videogames and with that I can understand even very obscure sentences, I'm also repeating the same with german but german is by far a vast language (but for some reason spanish has more proximity to it than english... at least I feel it that way)

I learned english by playing games and "surfing" the web.

I'm by no means perfectly bilingual as i'm still doing lot of spelling mistakes and i still sort of need subtitles to watch TV in english if it's not news or shows like Kimmel (where the english level is simple enough to understand without training wheels). I'm still learning new things on a regular basis just by coming here and watching TV shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

Learning this way is a long process though. I started at around 8 playing Sierra games with an english to french dictionary. I remember i learned the word "wall" while playing Space Quest 2. You are also bound to do some of the usual mistakes native non educated speakers do (which is not really a bad thing actually). You also don't learn how to speak the language. My english accent is atrocious.