This is the blog of Dr. Curt Bonk, Professor at Indiana University and President of CourseShare (there are NO Guest Blogs and NO advertisements permitted).

Links
Dr. Bonk's Home Page
TrainingShare
PublicationShare

Bonk's Emerging Learning Technologies course

Video Primers in an Online Repository for e-Teaching and Learning (V-PORTAL)

Click here for information about my recent book, MOOCs and Open Education Around the World.

Bloggers I follow
My reading list
New York Times article on online language learning and 10 such sites
Sunday, February 17, 2008
My strange week continues. Today (February 17, 2008), there is an article by Anne Eisenberg in the New York Times on online language learning wherein I am quoted. See:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/business/17novel.html?_r=2&ref=business&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
If you get the NY Times, see page 4 of the Business Section today. My part is in the middle--before and after my section, there is information from the founders of Livemocha and Chinesepod, respectfully. I was interviewed shortly after interviewing the president of Livemocha, Shirish Nadkarni, for my WE-ALL-LEARN book. I also interviewed the president of Chinesepod. Here is the quote from the article related to me:

“Curtis J. Bonk, a professor of education at Indiana University in Bloomington, is specializing in ways to integrate online technologies into teaching. He says LiveMocha is part of an explosion of educational resources for language learning on the Web.

“You no longer have to learn language as an individual in a silo somewhere, using a canned program on a CD-ROM,” he said. “Instead, you have thousands of tutors to pick from — if the first one doesn’t work out, you can choose another.”

This is just a snippet of the conversation that we had about the potential of online language learning. But I guess my point was that there are many tools and systems out there now for learning a language online. One no longer must rely on finding time for formal classroom training or resort of boring training on a CD. As seen when a student travels to Asia or Europe for a semester during high school or college, he or she can now go online and find native speakers, thereby saving time and money, while learning when it is most convenient.

Of course, this requires motivated and self-directed learners. What brings about such motivation and willingness to learn without a grade or mark? Perhaps it is job related and one’s career can be boosted. Perhaps it is personal such as when one has close friends or new acquaintances from another country or who know another language. Perhaps one is going on a trip or expecting an extended stay in another country or region of the world. My research team and I are about to do research on what motivates people to give or receive tutoring in such systems. The results should prove interesting and informative, or so I hope. We already are collecting data on what motivates one to create, share, contribute to, or watch YouTube videos (if you want to contribute to that research and perhaps win an iPhone or iPod, please go to: http://trainingshare.com/video/. Perhaps these two research projects can be combined.

As noted in the article, the field of online language learning is exploding! Listed below are 10 online language learning sites (the first two, Livemocha and Chinesepod are reviewed in the NY Times article):

1. Livemocha: http://www.livemocha.com/: Livemocha combines language learning self-paced lessons (i.e., online content) with a community of tutors (i.e., people who give of their time and talent) and a suite of tools for learning language. Company was started last year by Shirish Nadkarni. They began with content in 6 languages which the majority of the world speaks—English, Mandarin Chinese, German, French, Hindi, and Spanish. This site has content plus human tutors plus motivational features embedded in it—it is the combination of such elements that make it an interesting and potentially explosive learning-related idea. Livemocha has gotten 200,000 language tutors or mentors from more than 200 countries in just a few months. Advertising and other premium content and services will soon be offered. This is definitely one company to watch as they experiment with and add new features. Livemocha recently obtained $6 million venture capital. They experienced rapid growth prior to it; now imagine what will happen with it. Could they become the Google of online language learning? We will "Livemocha" the Web when we need information related to language learning. Just how many languages might they soon offer beyond the original six? Could Livemocha evolve into a language learning school or institute with college credits or certificates? Could it evolve into one of the most important education-related sites on the Internet? I believe that Shirish has the vision to make this happen. We will see.

2. Chinesepod: http://chinesepod.com/. Chinesepod is also quite exciting. I have been tracking it for nearly a couple of years now. It teaches Mandarin Chinese online; hundreds of thousands of people download the podcasts each month (270,000 visitors per month according to the NYT article), plus it offers many other supplemental language services; e.g., tutoring in Skype, transcripts of the podcasts, language exercises, etc., which uses pay for. Ken Carroll is a co-founder—a very cool guy who is highly interested in online pedagogy. Perhaps one of just a handful of people I have talked to in the past year who understands the Web 2.0 as well as innovative pedagogy. Ken knows the importance of emerging technology plus innovations in instruction. How so? Well, he reads from many leading figures in the field. Connectivism? Sure George Siemens is in his reading list. Communities of practice? Well, then, he has thoroughly read from John Seely Brown as well as Etionne Wenger. These are just a couple of examples. Premium services are also offered to which thousands of people currently subscribe (see NY Times article). The company name is Praxis. It will be highly interesting to see how this site (as well as Praxis) evolves before and after the upcoming summer Olympics in Beijing. This online language tool and company will be interesting to watch during the coming year. There are days wherein I wish people like Ken were in my university or department.

3. Spanishpod: http://spanishpod.com/. This is the latest venture of the people from Chinesepod; expected to grow even faster than Chinesepod did. A similar focus on free podcasts with premium services offered in addition to that. Like Chinesepod, it is very slick in its instructional design and delivery. Dozens of people (script writers, actors, instructional designers, production managers, etc.) are involved in producing the podcasts for Chinesepod and Spanishpod. Much time, thought, planning, creativity, and goes into it. How might Spanishpod and Chinesepod be linked? Might some type of language certificates or college credits be offered through them? Might online language learning tutors and mentors be trained though them? We will see what transpires.

4. Englishpod: http://www.englishpod.com/. Englishpod was expected to attract more attention important than Chinesepod when it first came out. But for various reasons it didn’t. It is now more focused on mobile English learning in China. It is owned by the same company as Chinesepod and Spanishpod, Praxis. With the explosive growth of mobile phones in China (which I tracked in a survey in corporate blended learning last year), it is an important and obvious move for Praxis. Englishpod could set many mobile learning standards. Ideas related to teaching and learning could be transformed by this site—learning will be shorter, smaller, and more direct and on demand as a result. Just how might innovations in learning from China, in turn, impact the West?

5. Mixxer: http://www.language-exchanges.org/. Mixxer is also quite interesting. It was created based on the languages tutoring approaches seen in Europe; especially Germany. Mixxer says it has 300 teachers and 15,000 people looking for a language exchange. It is advertized as a free educational community for language learners and teachers to find a language partner—Mixxer uses tools like Skype, chat, etc. Not growing as fast as Livemocha, Chinesepod, or FriendsAbroad but still very interesting. Run through Dickinson College in Pennsylvania by its developer, Todd Byrant. In Mixxer, partners meet online and help each other practice and learn a foreign language.

6. FriendsAbroad: http://friendsabroad.com/. Free voice calls, a language learning network, and a few language learning tools (e.g., online dictionaries). It says you can learn language skills in an online language exchange community of millions of users in over 200 countries speaking more than 80 languages. Speak, hear, and look up words in online translation dictionaries. One place says millions of users and later it says 500,000 users. In any event, it is a lot! The fact that this site as well as Livemocha and others ask if one is in a relationship indicates that there is some interest in matchmaking and fostering assorted personal relationships as well as language learning in many of these sites. Many people seem to be finding their significant other online. Might there be spin-out matchmaking sites or special features embedded in such tools and systems someday, complete with wedding and honeymoon pictures of those who first met in such sites? I can see the tagline—FriendsAbroad—join the thousands of people who learned a language and found a lifelong spouse or partner at the same time.

7. Chinswing: http://www.chinswing.com/. Chinswing is just cool. It takes minutes to learn. Constructive communication is the goal of this tool; converse with other people about different topics and practice your language skills. When I visited, I saw many people practicing their English in Chinswing. Unlike online forums, each threaded discussion is not text-based, but, instead is there are threads of audio files responding to an initial issue, question, comment, or concern along with a thumbnail picture of the person who is speaking. You can scroll a sequential, horizontal bar of audiofiles and comments. Using Chinswing, people construct meaning or negotiate ideas in an open learning environment. There are forums on many topics (education, religion, business, etc.) wherein you can join in to comment, provide feedback, or just listen to. This is an empowering tool that does not take much time to learn. And, like many of these sites, it is free. Founder: Dean Worth of Australia. Watch for this site to change or expand in the near future. Dean indicated that he is in discussions with others about this. http://www.chinswing.com/downloads/ChinswingPressRelease2006-12-07.pdf.

8. Mango Languages: http://www.mangolanguages.com/. Unlike many of the other tools mentioned above, Mango Languages provides the study of a second language in an individual setting. The lessons are completely based on Flash movies. The learner listens and reads the phrases presented on each screen and he or she is encouraged to repeat each phrase. Something worth mentioning for Spanish speakers learning English--when the mouse is placed over any word in English, a callout pops up containing its closest pronunciation in Spanish.

9. Lomastv: http://lomastv.com. This site is an online Spanish video magazine for people who wish to improve their Spanish skills. Authentic Spanish videos include television programs, music videos, interviews, documentaries, and travel. Web site offers Spanish and English captions, pitch-correct slow play, integrated dictionaries and listening exercises. I have not explored this one much yet. My research team is, however, so I list it here.

10. LanguageLab: http://www.languagelab.com/index/. LanguageLab uses the virtual world of "Second Life" to attend classes on a virtual campus. A placement test determines student's level. Classes are composed of 6 to 8 students at the same level. It uses voice over IP. This will likely grow as Second Life and similar virtual worlds expand. This one will be interesting to monitor.

Other places one might go to include Webheads: http://prosites-vstevens.homestead.com/files/efi/webheads.htm. Webheads is an online community of ESL instructors and a community for online language learning. Webheads share information on teaching language online; conferences for instructors, etc.; contact my friend Vance Stevens, UAE, for more information.

There is also the Pocket School project for underserved children which my friend, Dr. Paul Kim at Stanford is working on. See: http://www.stanford.edu/~phkim/project/consulting.html. This project attempts to provide literacy skills for children in Latin America using relatively cheap ($20) MP3 players. Like those who listen to Chinesepod and have a teacher in their pockets, this project allows the children of migrant workers and others to access literacy training when and where needed. It is an example of mobile online language learning.

I hope you like the New York Times article and this list of language learning links (here is a link reminder: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/business/17novel.html?_r=2&ref=business&oref=slogin&oref=slogin). Much of this information will find a way into the book I am working on right now, "WE-ALL-LEARN: An Open Educational Extension of the World is Flat." Have fun exploring them and learning a new language!
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 3:27 PM  
58 Comments:
  • At 2:39 AM, Blogger Dan said…

    Hi Curt,

    Great list.

    I've been using (though not really participating) with LiveMocha for a while now. Lesson provision and tracking in conjunction with a collection of the best social networking functions that I've found out there (for language sites) all make it unique and interesting.

    There are a couple other sites that I like which don't integrate the lessons and social networking as well, but are still worth a look.

    Soziety (http://soziety.com) is one of the older ones that I'm familiar with. I think that it is nearly a couple years old now. It's certainly not as slick as LiveMocha. However, they do an ok job with the social networking aspect. I particularly like that they don't try to do interactions in-house (other than PM), they just encourage users to use Skype. I've met mostly South Americans in there.

    iTalki (http://www.italki.com) is better designed than Soziety, but I haven't really gotten into it. However, the social networking aspect is well done and there are some more language resources (though nothing much more than reference materials).

    Good luck with your research in this area. I really think that we are only seeing the barest beginnings of what ICT is going to enable individuals to do. I have to wonder if sites like LiveMocha are the first rumblings of a tsunami that will devastate un/under-prepared universities across disciplines.

    This is another fun resource and piggy-backs on your last post on Twitter.

    TwitterLearn (http://www.twitterlearn.com) is a cool way to use the Twitter platform to get automated, interactive language feedback. The idea certainly isn't new. I know that Marty Seigel's company was working on the same thing years ago (for IM clients). But seeing the application here is fun.

    Dan

     
  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger Todd said…

    Thanks for the mention. Just one correction, the Mixxer does not ask about relation status. We're not very interested in being a dating service. :)

    Todd Bryant
    Dickinson College

     
  • At 12:08 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Thanks Dan for the link to iTalki. That is great. Youare right--we are just on the cusp of many interesting things here. Notions about how this impacts universities that are underprepared is interesting--it could work both ways as systems like Livemocha could help universities with thin language budgets to stretch them much farther than originally thought possible. At the same time, it could create situations wherein students look to these sites for language learning credentials and perhaps even degrees someday.

    Thanks also to Todd. I made the change requested.

     
  • At 5:12 AM, Blogger DrTerri said…

    have you checked out rollingr's
    http://www.rollingrs.com better than the ChinesePod podcasts etc.. its a very well done video podcast that just went premium.

     
  • At 7:36 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Thanks for the info on rollingrs. I am checking it out. Always good to expand the list. As is clear, there is a lot happening here!

     
  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger lklawless said…

    Hi Curt,

    I really enjoyed your article and analysis of some of the best language learning websites. I'd like to let you know about a few other sites for independent students. About.com, the online network owned by the New York Times, includes 7 language sites, each of which is run by an expert Guide who creates original materials (lessons, quizzes, practice exercises, sound files, study tips, and so on) which are entirely free and can be accessed 24/7. Community features include daily and weekly newsletters, blogs, and practice forums.

    http://esl.about.com
    http://french.about.com
    http://german.about.com
    http://italian.about.com
    http://japanese.about.com
    http://mandarin.about.com
    http://spanish.about.com

    Thanks again for your analysis of some online language learning options - I hope you'll have a chance to take a look at About.com's language sites.

    Sincerely,

    Laura K. Lawless
    Full disclosure: I am the About.com French Language Guide

     
  • At 5:37 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Thanks Laura. Looks interesting and important too! Many resources there.

     
  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger Edilly said…

    Professor Bonk,
    I'm a student at IU-Bloomington working on a free-lance piece for Transitions Abroad Magazine. The piece provides suggestions for ESL teachers on technology and technology knowledge they should have before moving to China and Asia--a how-to make sure you can communicate with family and friends back home while in China. I'd love to talk with you and get your suggestions.

     
  • At 9:43 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Free free to contact me. You can find my email at the bottom of my homepage:

    http://mypage.iu.edu/~cjbonk/

     
  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger Normunds said…

    Don't forget about www.valodas.com

     
  • At 7:17 AM, Blogger Susan said…

    When in Rome, why not let the Romans teach you?

    In Huangshan (黄山) southern Anhui province in Eastern China, Fu Shou-Bing logs on to the computer in the public library near his village. Since discovering ECpod.com (http://www.ECpod.com), the retired High School Chemistry teacher has been logging on almost every day to the English-Chinese teaching website. Sometimes he cycles the 25 miles home, cooks himself a simple lunch of rice and stir-fried vegetables with salted fish, often returning once again to the library and his new hobby in the evening.

    ECpod.com boasts an educational website that teaches members conversational English or Chinese (no "this is an apple" stuff here) via video clips contributed by other members. After a vetting and often transcribing process by language tutors commissioned by the site, the clips are available free of charge in YouTube fashion. The twist? Members film each other in everyday activities, hoping other members will learn not just their native tongue, but also cultural innuendos lost in textbooks and more conventional means of language learning.

    "One member filmed himself cooking in his kitchen. We got a few emails asking what condiments he used," says a bemused Warwick Hau, one of the site's more public faces. One emailer even wanted to know if she could achieve the same Chinese stir-fry using ingredients from her regular CR Vanguard (华润超级) supermarket. "We often forget our every day activities may not be as mundane to people on the other side of the world," Hau adds. Another such clip is "loaches" - a Chinese mother of 3 filmed her children and their friends playing with a bucket of loaches - slippery eel-like fish the children were picking up and gently squeezing between their fingers.

    Lately the members have also begun to make cross-border friends and contacts. The ECpal function works much the same way sites like Facebook.com and MySpace.com work - members can invite each other to view their clips and make friends. And it has its fair share of juvenile humor as well. “Farting Competition” features two teenagers and graphic sound effects. Within several days, the clip was one of the most popular videos that week, likely due to mass-forwarding by the participants’ schoolmates.

    For other members keen to learn more than the fact juvenile humor is similar everywhere, there are many home videos featuring unlikely little nuggets of wisdom. “The last thing I learned from the site is why you never find green caps for sale in China”, says Adam Schiedler one of the English language contributors to the site. Green caps signify cuckolded husbands, particularly shameful in China as they are a huge loss of face. Adam vows not to buy any green headgear for his newfound friends.

    The subject matter of the videos often speaks volumes about its contributors. Members choose their own content and film the clip wherever they please, some of their efforts drawing attention to rural surroundings and the quaint insides of little homes otherwise not seen unless you backpack your way thru the tiny dirt roads and villages along the Chinese countryside.

    Idyllic countrysides and cooking lessons aside however, ECpod marries the latest video sharing technology with the old school way of teaching a language - from the native speakers on the street. It's a modern, more convenient alternative to spending 6 months in China. And why not let the Chinese teach you?

    Visit http://www.ECpod.com

     
  • At 11:55 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Facinating Website. Thanks Susan. I have shared it with my research team. So much is happening now! Will the momentum keep going.

    Cool story. Bike rides to library to learn English! These video anchor his learning. I wonder how many people this is impacting.

     
  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger Jon Bischke said…

    Great article Curt. Check out what we're doing at eduFire.com as well. One-on-one tutoring from native speakers via webcam. Would love to hear your thoughts.

     
  • At 5:35 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Look professional Jon. I forwarded to my team to check it out.

     
  • At 7:44 AM, Blogger Susan said…

    Thanks Curt. Glad you like the article. Yeah, Fushoubing is a great man. I have known him since i started writing about ECpod. Shoubing now lives in Mount Huangshan and he is one of the very active member on the site. I think he has be far the most video contributions there.

     
  • At 9:02 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Thanks Susan. I wrote about Fu Shou-Bing in my WE-ALL-LEARN book. I wrote him an email in fact. We have been corresponding. He is great! Thanks for the connection. Please send me an email so I can include you perhaps in my book or describe ECpod more. Write me at cjbonk@indiana.edu.

     
  • At 7:09 PM, Blogger Gabe said…

    Hi Curt,

    Thanks for including LoMásTV in the list. Please feel free to have your research team get in touch (gabe at the dot com below).

    Gabe
    Yabla.com

     
  • At 7:05 AM, Blogger Hunkston said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 6:18 PM, Blogger shoubing said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 11:23 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Hunkston: See the resoures my team and I have put up in Wikispaces:

    http://wiki-riki.wikispaces.com/Online+Language+Learning

    You might find some great tools for learning language online. See my blog posts on April 17th as well.

    Fu Shoubing: Thanks for offering your services!!!!!!! It is people like you who make the world more open.

     
  • At 12:43 PM, Blogger milf said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:06 PM, Blogger  said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:06 PM, Blogger  said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:07 PM, Blogger  said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:07 PM, Blogger  said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:07 PM, Blogger  said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 2:05 AM, Blogger Andy Guo said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger cold said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger cold said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 5:01 PM, Blogger yoko said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 6:20 PM, Blogger wingter said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 11:55 PM, Blogger kuroe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 12:44 AM, Blogger dyunn said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 11:37 PM, Blogger 笑容工作室 said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:47 PM, Blogger sexy said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 1:02 AM, Blogger terminals-blocks said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 9:40 PM, Blogger 笑容工作室 said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 5:33 PM, Blogger inwowgold said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 12:16 AM, Blogger キムラ ミキ said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 9:38 PM, Blogger tre tre said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 12:07 AM, Blogger kuroe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 12:07 AM, Blogger kuroe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:55 PM, Blogger title said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 1:34 AM, Blogger  said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 1:17 AM, Blogger 518 said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:58 PM, Blogger sex said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 1:44 AM, Blogger kjmlpo said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 1:45 AM, Blogger kjmlpo said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 1:45 AM, Blogger kjmlpo said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 1:33 AM, Blogger love said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:09 PM, Blogger curoe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:09 PM, Blogger curoe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:14 PM, Blogger curoe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:14 PM, Blogger curoe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:14 PM, Blogger curoe said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 11:55 PM, Blogger fine said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 11:59 PM, Blogger example-ccnt said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 4:30 AM, Blogger  said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
Post a Comment
<< Home
 
About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

See my complete profile

Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

Recent Posts
Archives
Popular Posts
Powered by

Free Blogger Templates

BLOGGER