Social Networking (and Peer Tutoring) for Second-Language Learning — Mark Morton

My nephew, who is studying Korean, recently told me about a free website that facilitates the learning of a second language by making use of social networking in the form of peer tutoring. The site in question is called LiveMocha, and it’s like many websites devoted to learning second languages in that it includes content such as flash cards, vocabulary drills, and so on. What makes LiveMocha unique, though, is that its more advanced language exercises require a user to write phrases or sentences in the target language that are then assessed by another user of LiveMocha, one whose first language is the language that you are trying to learn. For example, when I logged on to LiveMocha yesterday, the site informed me that a user named Kolba, who is learning English, had completed an exercise and that I was welcome to assess it. I did so, and it took me only about a minute to provide some formative feedback; if I hadn’t done so, then other users whose first language is English would also have the opportunity to assess and give feedback on Kolba’s work. After doing that assessment for Kolba, I then completed my own language exercise (for Arabic, which I’ve been studying for about ten months) and submitted it. About half an hour later, that exercise had been assessed by a user named Khalid. In short, LiveMocha is a community of language learners who support one another via free peer tutoring: you scratch my ظهر and I’ll scratch yours.

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Mark Morton

As Senior Instructional Developer, Mark Morton helps instructors implement new educational technologies such as clickers, wikis, concept mapping tools, question facilitation tools, screencasting, and more. Prior to joining the Centre for Teaching Excellence, Mark taught for twelve years in the English Department at the University of Winnipeg. He received his PhD in 1992 from the University of Toronto, and is the author of four books: Cupboard Love; The End; The Lover's Tongue; and Cooking with Shakespeare.

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