On Wednesday I was kindly invited by Clint Schmidt, VP of Marketing and Product to have a first private sneak peak preview of the new Pearson powered Livemocha Active English course.
Livemocha and Pearson announced a partnership back in March 2009 to build an online English course based on Pearson content. The release was previewed for August but as always in the IT industry, you have to add some extra months :).
So, first of all, thank you Clint for giving me this opportunity and now let me share my experience with you
The course is currently still in beta. It’s been tested by around 70 members on Livemocha but will be released to the public very soon.
The Livemocha Active English Course will consist of 12 courses from level A1 to C2 of the Common European Framework for Languages. The course will be launched in two steps containing 6 courses each.
An Active English course consists of 5 different units all building up on each other. The first unit is always a video dialogue in a real life situation. There is a transcript next to the video.
The second unit is the grammar part, containing images and audio related to the video of unit one. The grammar part is finished by some exercises the student has to take, getting a feedback about how well he / she scored.
The third unit is a straight forward vocabulary part, covering the topics of the previous two steps. The vocabulary is available in pictures and sound.
The fourth unit is a roleplay. The student can choose one of two characters that had been introduced in the unit. The dialogue has to be recorded and can then be submitted for correction to the Livemocha community, either to one of your friends or two a Livemocha recommended language partner.
Later this year students will also have the possibility to submit the exercise to a Livemocha language tutor.
The fifth and last part is a quizz recapitulating the complete course.
Livemocha sees the Active English course either as a supplement or a full course in itself, covering all the student’s needs. They target anyone learning English. The classic Pearson course structure is clearly visible especially when you compare the Livemocha Active English course with the Eleutian SpeakENG course which is sold at the italki marketplace and is also based on Pearson material.
Talking about the pricing, Livemocha decided for different options. There will be a three or six months subscription but students will also be able to pay on a monthly basis.
As the Active English course is structured on the Common European Framework for Languages, the student should be able to take the standard tests available on the market.
Enough of the facts. Here is my personal impression.
The whole course looks very decent. As a language teacher, it did not change my life as I have seen the concept before but it is a perfect match for the Livemocha community and the approach Livemocha is taking in language learning.
During the presentation the whole course loaded very fast. The videos streamed smoothly, as well as the audio. This might be because of the beta and the course is not taken by many people at a time, but even with some delays in the public use it would still be very convinient to work with.
The people in the videos looked like people today, so no material from the late ninetees like the Eleutian course seems to contain which I think is quality wise important. Makes it more attractive to potential buyers.
The interface matches the Livemocha website. The navigation is clear and easy to use.
For me the most impressive thing is the translation of the course instructions in all the languages Livemocha is offering on their website right now. Therefore, their aim to target everyone who wants to learn English is quite realistic, at least for all the members of the Livemocha community.
Without the final price tag it is hard to talk about value for money but as I said, this is a really decent product, based on the material of one of the biggest ELT publishers on the globe. And if you have a look on the price structure of the paid courses Livemocha is offering right now it will be a good one.