This week, we had a young woman ask about our audio books and whether we had anything in French. We really haven’t been asked for French audio books before, even though there might be people in the community who would use them. The reason behind her request was that she was reading French books and speaking French in her home, but that she hadn’t really spoken it much and was rusty on the sound of French. Since she reads it well, learning French is not what she was after, but rather just the sound of French to help improve her speech. Of course, we do carry language cassettes and CD’s, but these are mainly for the beginner. Aside from finding a french-speaking mentor in the community, is there anything else she could do? Yes!
I didn’t know about it the other night, but there is a unique website that allows users to speak, write and even talk with other users live in the language they choose. It is called Livemocha.com and it is free to sign up. Right now, they only support a few languages : English, French, German, Spanish, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Mandarin Chinese, but they provide extensive lessons in each to help a user develop reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in the language of their choice. There are little tests, live chats and even tutors to help out with any questions you might have. They promote the fact they they are much more than just a self-study site, that there is lots of help and guidance here and you can still learn at your own pace.
This is a really fascinating concept and seems to be very user-powered. There are places you can post your lessons and have them “marked” or rated by other users as to their accuracy and relevance. They even have flash cards to help you improve your vocabulary, with your “learning language” on the front of the card, and your “native language” on the back.
Even though we could order a French audio book in for our patron through interlibrary loan, I think I will suggest this site to her now (and keep it in mind for others in the future, as it looks like an interesting concept). Do you think you could learn a language through self-study?