Livemocha and Pearson Announce Partnership for Online Language Learning

Livemocha.com and Pearson.com join forces to co-develop a number of conversational English language courses which will be accessible on Livemocha’s online platform in August 2009.

This partnership will further transform the language learning marketplace, empowering and engaging anyone across the globe who wants to learn English.

Shirish Nadkarni, CEO of Livemocha

This is an idea I already had a couple of month ago. It’s nice to see that two global leaders in language education came to the same results.

Connecting the decent and profund knowledge of a company like Pearson with the drive and the innovation of a start-up like Livemocha is really a milestone to me. Livemocha sets a new standard with this partnership for the entire online education market. That’s for sure.

By joining forces with an industry leader like Livemocha, were able to address a broader range of language learners beyond the institutional markets we traditionally serve.

Bill Anderson, President, Global ELT, Pearson Education

Myngle.com is currently working on their own branded language courses, too. But there is nothing known of the content and quality yet. So it seems there is something like a trend of online education platforms forming partnerships with content providers.

Connecting the two markets, online and offline, shows that established companies like Pearson take the online education market more and more serious. This is great news for us and I am really curious about the effects this announcement will have.

Read the press release here.

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  • China_Mike

    Hmm, it sounds like the storm giants are playing with lightning bolts in the distance.

    • http://www.languagesoutthere.com Jason West

      Why do you think that Mike?

      • China_Mike

        Jason in the past I played D&D. The storm giants were the biggest creatures in a world. They would be heard from long before they were seen. They loved to throw lightning bolts around for fun.

        Well, these two companies are giants, and from my point of view they are being heard from long before their true impact is felt or seen.

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

    Interesting read about Livemocha from the Global Watchtower:
    http://www.globalwatchtower.com/2009/03/12/livemocha-pearson/

  • http://www.languagesoutthere.com Jason West

    We partnered with Italki.com as a content provider before the Pearson announcement Kirsten :-) go to http://www.italki.com/static/partners.htm

    I think you are right that the Pearson/Livemocha announcement marks a shift in the way online langauge learning is viewed, and also about the incresingly likely hook and development by traditional content providers for the online market.

    We developed our unique materials for face to face teaching and real world practice over the last 8 years with paying students and some top teachers and ELT writers.

    When we were about to publish I thought they would work for people to practice with using skype and we adapted the plans and tasks to fit the online environment. We could be the only company with materials that already do what Pearson and Livemocha are about to try and do.

    it will be fascinating to see things develop.

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Hello Jason,
      thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment!

      So you were the ones who started it this partnership-mania :). So if I get it right you first developed a classic one on one “paper based” language course and adapted it now for the virtual classrooms, right?

      Did you “just” converted your lessons into pdf format or did you add extra interactive content? As far as I see it you seem to be the first guys who develop courses for online teaching.

      So many questions ;).

      • jasonoutthere

        Hi again

        I don't know about 'partnership mania', I guess Pearson and Livemocha were having chats for a while before their announcement but we have worked on our materials for ages, we even had them online under the Guardian Languages name last year but we had some tech and marketing problems and I took them back in-house to put on our site under our name.

        I got them up on our site at the start of December last year and started talking to people, hence the Italki.com partnership. There are others in the pipeline too.

        Our lessons began as teacher delivered lesson in London in 2001. We taught students some language and then took them to places outside of the classroom to use the language and trained them how to approach and speak to complete strangers. It worked really well and we say students improving their fluency and confidence surprisingly quickly.

        I did some more research into SLA and we honed and kept developing. Then we started to prepare for publishing the plans that had been taught hundreds of times by lots of different teachers and teaked the whole time, plans we knew worked every time. We employed some published TEFL writers and a good editor, Tim Bowen. We then published them with Guardian content and graphics inside them. There are plans for self-study with MP3 and plans for teachers with minute by minute instructions. All have really handy printable and copiable worksheets.

        I realised, as a Skype user, in 2005/6 that the way our lessons worked, focusing on conversational interaction, was ideal for real practice on line and the lesson exercises were great prep for a structured conversation. So we adpated every plan to have an online usage component and instructions. We tested them and they all work really well. They can be taught online in a VLS by a teacher and the students can use sites like Italki and Myngle, i.e. language exchange sites to practise the langauge in the plan with their regular practice partners. Teachers can teach the plans in schools or colleges and give the students homework of going online to one of the sites and recording themselves using the language and then the student can email the audio clip for assessment. Pretty simple really, but it all hinges on the way the plans work, they fit pretty much any environment because they were written to be used in the real world.

        They are all in pdf and are designed to be downloaded, printed and copied and used offline, they can be used online, like in Twiddla or other virtual classrooms. The real practice can be with the teacher or classmates, as in a normal class, or the students can go to their online practice partners or even find complete strangers online for a 'close to real' practice scenario.

        I'd be happy to chat more about what we do and why…there's a lot on our website about the ideas behind what we do. I can get a little side-tracked by the psychology of it all :-) which is my main interest :-) but it struck me ages ago that there are millions of English learners around the world who are kind of rejecting conventional teaching and going online to get speaking practice (I first noticed in the Skype forums where people were looking for informal language exchanges). But a lang. ex. has some innate problems…the main one being, how to do get the most from it in terms of language learning or acquisition? That's what our stuff does, it makes lang. ex much more structured and focused for the learner, just like in the real world, where it was first tested and taught.

        • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

          Thank you for this detailed overview, Jason. According to Livemocha and Pearson I remember reading somewhere that Pearson was monitoring Livemocha for about one year until they started talking to them about a partnership.

          And partnership-mania, well, it's a trend, that's for sure. Babbel.com just released their first premium product, a spanish course, based on classic offline material by the german publisher Hueber. I am currently testing this course and can already say that I quite like it.

          And yes, we should really chat about your material! Thanks again for this detailed overview.

          • http://www.languagesoutthere.com jasonoutthere

            No problem. These are interesting times aren't they? I'd be interested to know how the classic Hueber materials are working online.

            Happy to chat when you are. if you want to try/review some materials let me know.

            Cheers

          • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

            I think besides Guttenberg's invention of the book print the most interesting times for education.

            Well, I had a first look on the course yesterday but of course from one look I cannot say much about the content. I like the menu and the design. As this is the fourth time for me to start with Spanish I will try to do the course in 20 days as a test.

            I will send you my connectivity for chatting and YES I would love to try out some of your materials.

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  • http://how2learnenglish.blogspot.com Karenne Sylvester

    Hmmm… are Pearson Longman intending on actually producing a separate material designed to stimulate discussion?

    I've just read through the other comments below – hey Jason – and hear storm giants playing lightning bolts too.

    To be honest if 'on-line' learning is simply going to be a regurgitation of textbooks rather than a new approach to pedagogy then woe be to all of us. Scanning the same old-same old and calling that online learning will produce little real communication.

    West's materials are aimed at producing conversations, as are mine http://www.kalinago-english.com), wonder if Goliath will notice David?

    Karenne Sylvester
    p.s. NICE blog template.

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Hi Karenne,
      thanks for joining the talk. Quoting Livemocha and Pearson:
      “…announced today a strategic agreement to co-develop a new, direct-to-consumer, conversational English language learning experience available on Livemocha’s online platform with a global community of over two million members.”

      Sounds as if they develop a new course. A good example for this is Babbel.com's new Spanish premium course. It is based on offline material but works great as an online self learning course.

      And I am glad you like the template. :)

  • Paul Maglione

    Interesting development indeed. We are starting to see start-ups injecting new ideas and fresh energy into the ESL/EFL industry. Not all of them will survive (it is a notoriously hard sector to make good money in, unless you have a network of language schools); and not all of them will advance the state of the art; but some good platforms and working practices will emerge. Livemocha, Babbel, Myngle, and a couple others are leading this new wave. I anticipate a few more later in the year (wink wink).

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Hello Paul,
      welcome to my blog. :)

      If you look on most of the big players in the internet today you will see that most of them were not the first ones (Google for example – Altavista was THE thing before them).
      Being Avant-Garde is nice but you need the resources to survive until the mainstream recognizes the importance of your services.
      So I would be suprised if all of the language platforms would survive, too. They will be bought by their competitors which will then cut out the interesting parts (I think this will be the communities in most cases) or they will simply die in the desert.

      It is already starting. Babbel bought Friendsabroad and this site will be discontinued after six month.

  • http://www.englishclass.com.tw 英文家教

    I hope we all learn something new each and everyday. It is what helps to improve who we are.

  • AnneHwang

    What? What does all this mean? Are they developing something for students to access or for teachers to use as teaching material?

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      I will explain this in my next post. It's a new wave that hits the education market: publishers like Pearson, Collins and Hueber syndicate their old content to online companies. Those build new language courses on the basis of this provided content. Quite interesting.

      • AnneHwang

        Yes, Please explain more! I'd love to learn about this! A new twist to those publishing companies with online platforms. Hmm…

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  • http://www.bigiqkids.com/onlinespellingbee online spelling bee

    Interesting development indeed. We are starting to see start-ups injecting new ideas and fresh energy into the ESL/EFL industry. Not all of them will survive (it is a notoriously hard sector to make good money in, unless you have a network of language schools); and not all of them will advance the state of the art; but some good platforms and working practices will emerge. Livemocha, Babbel, Myngle, and a couple others are leading this new wave. I anticipate a few more later in the year (wink wink).

  • English Training Consultants

    Actually Livemocha’s idea for teaching via Facebook came from the  teachers who teach with Voice of America’s The Classroom– because their consultants provided that idea to Live Mocha. The VOA Learning English had developed the platform. See for yourself:
    https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/voalearningenglish