A couple newspaper articles over the last six months have featured innovative online language learning websites and platforms. I thought I'd give you a round up of the seemingly best or most intriguing models out there. On the most basic end of services is , an online market for digital recordings. Individuals can post passages that they are interested in hearing spoken aloud and any interested respondent can post a recording of the passage read aloud.
A more formal language learning networking tool is MyLanguageExchange.com. There are other models for this service out there but this site seems to have gained the most traction, making it especially easy to connect with a diverse group of foreigners that speak the language that you would like to learn. The service is extremely straightforward---the site simply maintains a database of people who know certain languages but would like to learn others. The website claims that it has 1.5 million users that speak some 115 languages. Not too shabby.
Probably the most engaging website out there is livemocha.com, a website which facilitates language learning by connecting language learning buddies from around the world and then providing them with a platform to exchange messages, vide-chat and correct each other. A friend of mine has been using the platform to brush up on her russian---she took it for seven years in elementary school and secondary school but hasn't needed to speak it in years. Though her language learning buddy can be a bit hard on her at times, scowling or laughing when she makes a pretty big mistake, she's much preferred the online exercise to book learning or other interactive alternative like Rosetta Stone.
Though some of the services cost money for the gold-standard version of their platform, the price is arguably a bargain when compared to language classes taught in person or high-priced software packages.
I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for any new and innovative services that come my way.
I've found that language professors too are trying to incorporate these platforms into their curriculum.