I have already shared several free online language learning resources in previous posts, but there are always more to try. Recently, someone pointed me to a new one which I hadn't heard of yet, called Busuu. I tried it out, and today I want to share with you my thoughts.
So what is it?
Busuu is another language learning web site that uses a social network to outsource corrections. Just like LiveMocha, they give you the exercises but the users are responsible for the feedback, corrections, suggestions, etc.
The current language offerings are English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. The same group of over-taught languages available everywhere. Obviously, when starting a web site that outsources language learning, you want the languages that will draw not only the most learners, but also the largest number of potential teachers. No surprise there.
The lessons and exercises are shorter than at LiveMocha, but it feels like there are more of them. Lessons are made up of basically the same types of exercises, with the addition of a match-up and a spelling quiz.
A lot of negatives
The user-interface is not always friendly. When doing the word magnet, for instance, double clicking does nothing — you must physically drag the word into the box, which is irritating enough with a mouse, but painful with a trackpad. And in the spelling quiz, hitting the back arrow or the backspace key resulted in a penalty for an incorrect keystroke, forcing my exercise rapidly to end in failure.
There seems to be a lot of material available in the introductory demo, but once that free introductory period runs out, a large amount of those materials become premium content. And worse, it's not the high-end materials, but random lessons all along the way, so you really can't build any momentum with your learning unless you pay. When LiveMocha offers more, better, uninterrupted lessons for free, it becomes hard to justify paying for the services at Busuu.
Unfortunately, Busuu also won't be much help in filling in where LiveMocha falls short, because all five languages offered by Busuu are available in extended courses on LiveMocha. So even if you were willing to pay for their premium content, it would be mostly pointless with a wealth of other, better materials available for pay.
I'm just one person, and I'm a rather opinionated one. I have high expectations. Perhaps you'll feel differently. I've linked to the web site — try it out for yourself. Maybe you'll like it. If you do, let me know what you think in the comments!
What other, similar web sites do you know of, enjoy using, or recommend? Do you find the social networking features of these online language learning tools valueable? Which one is your favorite?