“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

Samuel Johnson, London resident, September 20, 1777

“Get me out of here”

Anu Gupta, London resident, September 20, 2007

It’s no secret that over the years that I’ve lived in London, I’ve enjoyed it less and less. The sub-current of irritation that constantly and insistently accompanies almost any public interaction resonates through me and starts to feel like tinnitus of the soul. So, time to change, time to get out.
The plan, or should that be The Plan, is to move. Far away to Montreal where seasons are seasons, cost of living is low, and everyone walks around with an adorable French accent. Well, everyone except me. My language skills are virtually non-existent, a failing that I acknowledged around the time of ‘le singe est dans l’arbre’. I don’t speak French, despite the constant prodding of my French speaking girlfriend.
I can get away with it here, but over there it’ll be harder. So, rather than waste more money on a French tutor (because that was 6 weeks of Wednesday evening back-to-school torture), and various flavours of Learn French CD (I won’t even start on how bad they were), I’ve been digging around to see if there’s any help available online.
And of course there is – but two recently announced sites look like they might be pretty cool, and one of them had me almost slapping my head (I had to stop myself) as an obvious solution that no one had thought about before (not to my knowledge anyway).
So – first up is Mango, billed as “the first Free enterprise language learning course available on the Internet.”. What you get is a Flash application delivering learning in a slide show format. Different situations are covered (at the post office, at customs – I didn’t check whether at the Apple Store was included). Pretty conventional, but free.
Much more interesting is LiveMocha, which adds a Web 2.0 social something to the mix, and not only provides the basics of language tuition, but also provides a community of like minded people to practice with. So, sign up, say what languages you speak, and which you’re learning, and you can match up with people doing the opposite, so that you both get something out of it.
Live Mocha
You can friend people, and there are scoreboards to encourage you to keep on going, and probably some more stuff that I haven’t seen yet.
Initial impressions are good – the site looks clean and well designed, and this is a great idea. Let’s see if it can take a language dunce like me and get him conversing en francais.
A bientôt.
[tags]web2.0, web20, language, learning[/tags]