Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Second Language Acquisition

I was fascinated by the discussion we had yesterday about second language acquisition.  So much so, that I just wasted about 30 minutes messing around on Livemocha taking Spanish lessons.  Even in that short amount of time I feel like I learned more than most kids learn in an entire week in a junior high or high school spanish class.  

I've been trying to analyze what it was about Livemocha that kept me engaged and led to learning.  Part of it could be that I am a little competitive so things like questions with right and wrong answers, gaining points, etc. are things that motivate me.  That makes me wonder what a non-competitive person might think about those aspects of the livemocha experience.  It was also nice that I could do a variety of things (listen, read, write, speak).  It seems like engaging a variety of ther learner's senses is effective in promoting learning.  The other nice thing was that I could learn at my own pace and make mistakes without it being public (like what happens in a classroom).  It was also effective to receive immediate feedback regarding my answers.  

I was prompted a number of times to "find a friend" or to provide feedback on someone else's learning which I thought was an interesting concept.  I think that online or distance education often gets a bad rap for being "anti-social".  While that may be true in some cases, there are ways to make livemocha a little more collaborative and social and to capitalize on the power of social negotiation or collaboration.  I wish that I had the time to take one of these courses.  It seems like an interesting way to approach language acquisition--almost a melding of online education with social networking.

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