Livemocha Aims at Rosetta Stone – and Pulls the Trigger!

livemocha attack rosetta stone

We all knew it had to happen one day. And now the day has come: Livemocha finally pulled the trigger and sent a load of fresh roast mocha beans over to Rosetta Stone.

On their blog you will find three reasons why Livemocha is better than Rosetta Stone.

Reason 1: Livemocha offers hundreds of hours of free courses in over 30 languages.

Reason 2: Livemocha lessons include revision of speaking and writing exercises by native speakers.

Reason 3: Livemocha has a community of over 4 million members to connect, socialize and practice with.

You can find the complete comparision between Livemocha and Rosetta Stone on the Livemocha Blog.

So it looks like Rosetta Stone is becoming one of the favourite “targets” of online education. A couple of weeks ago my fellow YouTube teacher and Japanese Culture blogging Rockstar Koichi wrote a blog post and made a video about “Alternatives to Rosetta Stone Japanese”. You can watch the video below and read his blog post on Tofugu.com.

Rosetta Stone on the other hand is also on the go on the social webs. For example, they are making a very good use of Twitter, interacting with potential customers, giving support etc and posting links to success stories like this one, this one and many others on their own website promoting Rosetta Stone as the most effective and best language learning tool on the web.

So all of the above, Livemocha, Koichi and Rosetta Stone make some valid points and of course, I have my own take on this, too. But let me hear your thoughts first. Did you learn with Rosetta Stone, is it “too old”, too expensive, too …? What are your experiences with free tools on the net and the premium content of Livemocha, Babbel or busuu. Or maybe non of the above is the best and you got something else?

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  • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

    Don't forget about the price! My full thoughts are here.

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Infact the price plays a big role in the Rosetta Stone strategy. There is a whole list that adds on the bill. Like Koichi mentions in his blog post marketing takes a big chunck but there are also costs which are directly connected to the product itself like paying the tutors in TOTALe, the motivation team that keeps you on track, the guy who does the Twitter account etc.

      So as I said, I will jump in the ring soon and I will try to write up a neutral comparision between the two.

  • chinamike

    One nice thing I like about RS is that they talk some of this stuff in their yearly public stock reports. I'll bet Livemocha never gives us a chance to see theirs!

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      I had this talk with Clint Schmidt, VP Marketing & Product of Livemocha :), told him that I should change this blog and write about the NSA, CIA and FBI because it's easier to get information out of them ;).
      But generally all of them are quiet about numbers etc.

  • chinamike

    One nice thing I like about RS is that they talk some of this stuff in their yearly public stock reports. I'll bet Livemocha never gives us a chance to see theirs!

  • http://toastmasters.ph/ Zaldy Co

    “Rosetta Stone gives you CD-ROMs. Remember those? From the 1980s?”

    Clearly, distorted writing on the part of the LiveMocha blogger. CDs are from the mid-1990s and peaked in the 2000s. The RosettaStone CDs still has features that are not yet available on the web. With a microphone, you can record your dialogue and it graphs your tone and intonation which you can compare with that of the on-CD native speaker.

    RosettaStone also has a huge community of members with whom one can connect and practice with in SharedTalk. So a deliberate omission on the part of the LiveMocha blogger.

    Clearly, the LiveMocha blogger is not being honest.

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      I really need to do a comparison. No time right now, though :(

  • http://www.dosekir.com/ Mike Tao

    I have used both to study numerous languages at different levels and have consistently found RS to have a stronger andragogical basis. I frequently come across words or phrases in LM that are pulled directly from phrase books. And if a language has masculine/feminine/neuter forms? At LM you are supposed to inherently know them. Whereas RS will teach each word in enough context to discern the gender of the word in it's different forms.

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Good point.

  • lingosteve

    Kirsten,

    Long time no talk. Congratulations on the success of your blog.

    I think a lot depends on the goals and learning approach of the learner. I largely agree with Koichi that RS is not worth the price. I would go further and say that I would not want to learn the way RS wants you to learn, that is in a way that requires you to be engaged with a computer for long periods of time.

    I realize that I might be old school, but I am a fairly committed input based learner, although not as extreme as Krashen. I mostly listen and read, and then devote some time to reviewing the new words and phrases that I find in my input activities, using flash cards. Listening is my main activity, and is something that I can do while sitting in public transportation, driving, gardening, exercising, and washing the dishes. I would not have learned Russian and Portuguese over the last 4 years if I had not been able use these “dead hours' to learn. I am now embarked on Korean with the same purpose and method.

    I also believe that a lot of online talking or writing correction, as offered by LIvemocha, while fun for some, is not necessary, nor as efficient nor convenient a way of learning as exposing yourself to a lot of comprehensible and interesting content. If the brain gets enough comprehensible input, it will figure things out, and when you are ready to speak, you will surprised at how well you do.

    There is research that shows that even totally passive exposure, with a little bit of deliberate learning, is better than full time deliberate learning. And listening to, or reading, interesting content is not really just passive.

    So RS? No!

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  • Jennifer

    Interesting post! I’ve been playing with LiveMocha for a couple of months now. I think the reason LiveMocha is taking aim at RosettaStone (aside from the fact that RS is the market leader) is that the latter has moved heavily in the direction of profit over public service. For example, RS used to offer a product to public libraries via a site license. Anyone with a library card could learn another language for free. A few years ago, they pulled this product from the market, just before launching into a broad public marketing campaign and putting up sales kiosks everywhere. The message? If you want to use your computer to learn a language, you’re going to have to pay for it. LiveMocha is also looking for paying customers, of course, but the basic ethos of the system is peer-to-peer, and they offer a lot that is free. The concept of “freemium” is taking over Web commerce, and RosettaStone would be wise to find a way to play in that space, or they will be overtaken by another company that is already there. RosettaStone isn’t even close, and based on the job opening they’re currently listing for an International Web Manager – which appears to be all about eCommerce, and not at all about offering Web-based learning experiences – they don’t plan to be moving into that arena anytime soon. http://jobs.rosettastone.com/jobs/406457-International-Web-Manager.aspx