Loquella has done a great job of taking Public Domain language learning materials created by the US Foreign Service Instute and porting them into a web-based language learning platform.
Their website provides users with an online interface for learning Mandarin Chinese by listening, reading and speaking. You can even customize how the site delivers the content to you by adjusting your preferences (no sign-up required!). This means you can choose to hear audio first in Chinese and then view the sentence in English or view the sentence in English and then hear the audio in Chinese. There are two other options as well.
Loquella also has a blog and a community area anyone can join and participate in a forum, and share photos and video. (View RSS feed for the community forum.)
All in all, Loquella is a great way to learn Mandarin Chinese free online by listening, reading and repeating. In addition to the free materials, Loquella sells a download of all the Chinese MP3s with a 30-day money back guarantee.
About The Language Course
The Foreign Service Institute and Loquella
Loquella developed the language course based off the well-respected Foreign Service Institute's language lessons. The method Loquella uses to teach you languages is not new, the Foreign Service Institute has been using this method for over 30 years to teach thousands of serious language students. Loquella simply developed the language tool that you use to view and hear the Foreign Service Institute course, and we also improved on the Foreign Service Institute system by adding Dialects Interviews for the Spanish lessons. The Foreign Service Institute method emphasizes language drills and pronunciation drills to ensure that language students retain and comprehend all material before moving forward.
Improving On An Already Good Thing
Although the Loquella language tool is largely based on the foundation that the Foreign Service Institute created, we believe we have made many essential improvements to the system. Instead of having to follow along with work-books while listening to tapes, Loquella.com offers two unique language tools for accessing the lessons. The first is through the free online language tool. The second is through lessons that can be downloaded to your MP3 player. You follow along with either program at your own pace. You can stop the program at any time and pick back up where you left off.
"The Foreign Service Institute is the Federal Government's primary training institution for officers and support personnel of the U.S. foreign affairs community, preparing American diplomats and other professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas and in Washington."- U.S. Department of State website.
Additional Notes On The Foreign Service Institute
Since the Loquella language tool pulls information from the Foreign Service Institute which was designed in the 1970's for government officers, professionals and diplomats, a large number of references to government entities and processes are referenced in the language lessons. Keep in mind that events and political figures referred to in some of the language lessons are most likely out dated by several decades. Instead of editing out all these items, the Loquella tool includes these items as they do not hinder students from learning, instead they can be seen as an interesting reminder of our own political and cultural history. We hope you enjoy the language lessons, and maybe you'll even get a brief history refresher as well.
Immerse Yourself In Your Language
We also encourage language students to try to immerse themselves in the language they are learning. Many experts agree that the best way to learn a language is to be surrounded by it constantly for a prolonged amount of time. If you have a couple weeks to spend in Mexico, bring your lap top and work with the Loquella language tool when you have some time, plug in to an audio tape when you are traveling and simply try to listen and speak to the locals any chance you get.
About The Foreign Service Institute Method
The main method for teaching used by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), and also used in all the language courses offered by Loquella.com, is called "guided imitation". If you listen to the way you speak your native language, you will notice that you do not use the exact same variation of common phrases in every context. Instead, you change your way of speaking to adjust to each individual situation. Therefore, this language course is designed to help you master the foreign language in most situations that you could run into in daily life in a new country.
The Foreign Service Institute method focuses heavily on teaching proper pronunciation. We focus the first language lessons in each level on pronunciation due to the importance that correct pronunciation will have on your ability to master the new language.
Basic Language Dialogs
The basic dialogs are the core of each language lesson. These dialogs are recreations of the real situations a language student is most likely to encounter, and the vocabulary and sentences are those he or she is most likely to need.
In the first language lessons, new vocabulary is introduced mainly in the basic dialogs. Sometimes, in the illustrations of grammar points, new words are introduced in order to fill out patterns needed to do the exercises. Each new word will reappear many times later in the language course to help you associate each word in many different contexts.
Language Pattern Drills and Grammar
The basic dialogs are the theme throughout the language course, and the language drills are the variations of those dialogs. Patterns of basic dialogs are expanded and changed in the drills.
Pattern drills are designed to allow you to practice the sentences and phrases you have learned, and the grammar tips are there to provide further explanation. At the beginning of each drill you will be given a basic sentence or dialog, then various kinds of drills that offer variations of those basic sentences and dialogs.
The language course consists of listening to and repeating basic sentences that illustrate the grammar point that is to be learned. This structure will give you enough clues to understand and use the pattern correctly in the drills that follow. These drills are mainly exercises that use substitutions, responses, and translations that highlight the grammar points that are being covered.
There are four kinds of language drills in each unit. Two are designed to vary some basic dialogs within the vocabulary you have already learned. The other two are oriented toward the structure of the language to provide coverage of important patterns.
You Choose Your Level Of Difficulty
No matter which language tool you decide to use, you choose your level of difficulty. You can skip ahead or continue to repeat a language lesson until you feel comfortable with it. Using the MP3 downloads, you can buy just the level you want, or the complete 50 hour package. Using the free online language tool, you can skip forward or backwards through each language lesson until you find your perfect level of difficulty.
Learning Dialects Using The Language Tool
As anyone who has tried to learn a language will tell you, it's one thing to understand and respond to a question in a foreign language when it is spoken in a slow and well-annunciated manner. It's completely different to listen and repeat when actual people are talking in real dialects. As you get deeper into any language you will start to hear that people speaking the same language have very different dialects. That's why we provide sections that allow you to hear dialects used in various parts of the world.
Mandarin Chinese Language