Livemocha now offers Travel Crash Courses for $9.95

Livemocha.com is one of the social language learning websites on the internet. They were one of the first platforms that followed the approach of language exchange with a part where you study on your own with vocabulary drills and and repetitive exercises  and a part in which both oral and written exercises are corrected by your Livemocha friends.

Up to now, Livemocha.com has been a totally free website. They did not even had much advertising on their site, just in the chat. So it was obvious, that they planed a paid content part. And I don’t think that it will stop here.Livemocha reached 1 million users back in September 2008. This is the magic number when the monetization starts. Since yesterday Livemocha is now offering paid content. They are starting with travel crash courses for English speakers who want to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, or Mandarin Chinese.

Those courses consist of over 500 travel words plus mp3 downloads for each word and phrase. This way you will be able to learn on the road not only on the Livemocha website.

I am a long time member on this website. Everything they did up to now was well made, so I think this is a very good value they offer here.

Maybe they want to give me a copy to test?! I would write a report, of course ;).

Click here to read the original blog post.

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  • China_Mike

    Kirsten,

    Excellent site with great information. You will become a key stop for people interested in language learning on-line.

    Now, having said that I’m going to have to disagree with you on a couple of points. First, I am quite disappointed with LiveMocha. I found the teaching approach outdated and, when it came to Chinese, actually incorrect in many ways. They tried applying a Western grammatical template to a non-western language. Such neophytes.

    I also think that after 1+ years on-line that if they can only come up with a crash course for travelers that they might as well wave the white flag of failed creative pedagogy. My gosh, this is the best they can come up with? Hand held dictionaries make these kind of courses obsolete.

    I also disagree that 1,000,000 clients is where monetization starts. Monetization should start with your first customer. And for many sites it has. Livemocha could avoid the problem because they got a pot of money to start off with. I’d love to know what the investors were promised.

    Livemocha was first with a great idea but has gone nowhere since then.

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

    Hello Mike,
    great to have your here on my blog. I always enjoy reading your posts and discussing with you.

    1) I started with a Spanish course on Livemocha one year ago. Cannot say much to Chinese though, but you are the expert. One thing I found frustrating was that the exercises were too repetative. If you are a bit of a fast learner, this system can easily become boring after a short while.
    But I still think the idea is good and the system itself well made. Ok, maybe they need a little course fresh up.

    2) Well, they start monetizing what they already have. No investment in new content needed. I think it is the vocabulary + mp3 they are already using in the courses. As the pronunciation in the Spanish course was good I can imagine that this might sell well. Even in times of handheld dictionaries.

    3) This theory comes from the direction of facebook, if I remember right. Investors were told that if a web 2.0 site reaches 1 million users, you can start making money with it.
    This is because of the conversion rates for advertising embeded on these sites. The last time I visited livemocha, it’s quite a while I think, there was no sign of advertising. As I said, just in the chat. Now you have already one on the main site.
    I read an interesting article about this issue lately. I hope I can find it. The bottom line was, that investors in web 2.0 sites want to see their revenue now in the crisis, so the new doctrin for web 2.0 sites is: “Get profitable, or die.”
    That’s for example one reason why YouTube / Google is implementing so much ads on the site right now.

  • China_Mike

    Now I get you. The 1,000,000 user figure meant their return on advertising. Well, I guess that would depend on their costs because the return on advertising would tend to go up and down.

    I think your insights vis-a-vis Spanish are quite interesting. It almost seems that this is not a “serious” site for serious language learners but rather a site where people can “dabble” in language learning and can “fool around” with others of a similar nature. Perfect for Americans who are famous for being poor language learners especially inside America. Note: I’m American.

    Finally, I think a lot of other language learning sites, looking at what Livemocha just created, and knowing they were flush with cash, breathed a deep sign of relief when the came out with this course. I’ll bet Marina did.

  • http://www.livemocha.com Clint

    Hi Kirsten and China_Mike,

    I’m the VP of Marketing and Product Management at Livemocha, and I’m really excited to read your thoughts on Livemocha. We certainly have lots to improve and I will gladly take advantage of your feedback.

    Kirsten: I would like to get you a free Travel Crash Course. After a bit of poking around I did not manage to find your contact info (perhaps I am blind), so if you can email me at myfirstname at mydomain.com we can get connected. Many thanks!

    -Clint

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

    Hello Clint,

    nice to meet you and thank you for your offer! Yes, I really have to put in a contact button at this site. It’s all about the details ;).

    Anyway, I will send you an email right away!

    Talk to you soon!

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