The following is a classified list of language learning sites retrieved from Google after analyzing the first 200 results looking for the following terms: “language learning”, “learning languages online”, “language learning community”:
Criteria for the selection process:

· Websites should be free or at least have access to free instructional content or communication tools.

·
Websites that don’t provide communication tools, shouldn’t be completely text-based, that is, they should include video or at least sound.

·
Websites that don’t provide communication tools, should include content to learn at least one of the following languages: English, Spanish, or Chinese. These languages were chosen because a separate Google search indicated that these languages have more online learning related resources.


The websites are listed alphabetically:

Free language exchange communities with instructional content

http://www.addlang.com/
Practice languages online using Skype, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger or AOL Messenger. All content is free.

http://www.babbel.com/
Heavily Flash-based website. It has content for German, French, Italian and Spanish. Great to learn new vocabulary using an approach similar to RosettaStone’s, that is using pictures , text and voice.. You can also search for tandem or language partners. You can contact them by mail but it doesn’t seem to provide a feature to communicate directly with them via chat or voIP. It has 39,193 users.

http://www.ephisto.com/
The main technology used is text to speech via a virtual coach. The text is from current world news. Users can click on any word from the text to listen to it. The site also offers its own software for users to communicate among them via text, audio and video.

http://www.italki.com/
Community members can upload learning material on Word or PDF format. Other members vote about the material’s quality. You can search members by language they speak or they’re learning and initiate a conversation using an enhanced version of the GUI used by Livemocha. This enhanced version contains online games to play with language partners. Other ways to communicate with other users is through Skype and instant messaging tools.
By December 4, 2007 the website had more than 100,000 users, 50% of which were Chinese, 20% Americans and the rest were mainly Europeans.

http://www.lingq.com
Languages include English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese. The language teaching strategy is mainly reading a lesson while listening to it. A nice feature is the use of glosses on the lesson text: it provides the translation by selecting any word; it also allows you to save words to review them later. A free account allows you to access up to 5 lessons at the same time but you can delete some of them once you are done with them and load new ones. Buying points grants you access to more lessons and to other services such as contacting a tutor via Skype or translation services. Another nice feature is that anyone can upload new lessons provide it that each lessons contains text, an image and the associated audio. Users can decide to charge for the lesson they create or to give it for free. A commission is charged by the company for any non-free lesson.

http://www.livemocha.com/:
Combines language learning self-paced lessons (i.e., online contnt) with a community of tutors (i.e., people who give of their time and talent), and a suite of tools for learning language. Our contacts include: director of product marketing at Livemocha (Bryan Hurren [bryan@livemocha.com]) and Shirish Nadkarni, shirish@livemocha.com, founder of Livemocha.

http://www.onlinelanguagehelp.com/
The homepage is a question and answer forums. The individual languages sites, linked at the bottom, like http://www.onlinespanishhelp.com have great instructional materials. Languages include Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, English, and Turkish.

http://www.palabea.net/
Members can upload photos, videos, podcasts, and learning material. They can select whether all this material will be available to anyone or just to their registered friends. Also, members can record audio or video right from the website. The communication is done via text, video and audio.
The company is located in Berlin and has an estimated total user of 20,420.

http://www.polyglot-learn-language.com/
Registered users can search for language partners based on their native language or the language they would like to learn. The only way to contact language partners is through a built-in email message system, so users need to agree about using some different technology for sync communication. The site also allows users to link YouTube or DailyMotion videos as instructional materials. Users also can vote about the quality of the videos. The site has 155,500 members but many of them seem to be inactive.

http://www.vocabulix.com/
It has content for learning English, German and Spanish. The content is mainly a list of words and sentences which have also audio. You can find friends and contact them via a built-in email system but it doesn’t have any other integrated communication tool.

http://kantalk.com (Not within first 300 Google results!)
Members can look others members to practice a language using Skype (chat/audio)
Members can also post educational Youtube videos. Record their own voice while reading a giving text and other members will make comments/recommendations about the recording.
14,000 users from over 30 countries (data coming from email sent to Dr. Bonk from KanTalk executives)

http://www.ecpod.com/ (Not within first 300 Google results!)
Free website to learn/practice Chinese and English through videos. Users can upload instructional videos for others to see and rate. It also offers social networking in the sense that registered users can contact other users via email.

http://soziety.com/ (Not within first 300 Google results!)
Registered users can search for language partners based on their native language or the language they would like to learn. Communication tools offered are build-in email, text chat and Skype. Users can upload YouTube video links but can’t vote about their instructional quality. Estimated total users: 9,550

Free language exchange communities without instructional content

http://www.friendsabroad.com/
Registered users can search for language partners based on their native language or the language they would like to learn. Then they can initiate a conversation via chat or VoIP using Skype. A nice feature is that it saves all the chat written conversations. Another communication feature is a build-in email system. It also provides a text-to-speech software that would speech any written word in a selected language, however this feature is available only to subscribers. The site has 275,000 registered users from 175 countries.

http://www.language-exchanges.org/
(The Mixxer) (Not within first 300 Google results!)
Registered users can search for language partners based on their native language or the language they would like to learn. Communication tools offered are build-in email, text chat and Skype.It also provides a new wiki service intended for users to help each other with translations.
Total users: 17,339

http://www.chinswing.com/ (Not within first 300 Google results!)
Constructive communication is the goal of this tool; converse with other people about different topics and practice your language skills. Founder: Dean Worth, dean@chinswing.com


Free Self-Paced language learning web sites

http://www.about.com/education/
It provides introductory content to learn several languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, German and French). The content is mainly integrated of vocabulary and sentences, some of them have an audio file. In the French lessons, users can control the speed of the audio.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/
Beginner Flash-based self-contained online courses for several languages. Activities include reading, listening and writing. Instant feedback provided. For intermediate learners, the site provides Flash activities that includes idioms and slang (MP3 with transcripts included). Additional material includes video of authentic situations (transcript and English translation included)

http://www.elllo.org/ (English Language Listening Lab Online)
Intended only for learning English as a Second Language. It provides the audio and associated text as a slideshow presentation. Users can hide/show the caption but don’t have control about video navigation. It also has some video music with captions and podcasts. Users can also download the audio files as mp3.

http://www.mangolanguages.com/
Provides the study of a second language on an individual setting. The lessons are completely based on Flash movies. The learner listens and reads the phrases presented on each screen and he/she is encouraged to repeat each phrase. Something worth mentioning is that, for Spanish speakers learning English, when the mouse is placed over any word in English, a callout pops up containing its closest pronunciation in Spanish.

http://www.valodas.com/
Free language learning software. More then 100 dictionaries.


Free Community-based Translation services

http://www.cucumis.org/
Community based translation service. Users earn points translating other users’ text and in return, they can post text to be translated. By June 14, 2008 the website had more than 118,000 users.

http://mixxer.wetpaint.com/
Wiki-based website where users of The Mixxer can ask other registered users to help them with a translation.


PODCAST-BASED
(note: none of the following sites has been verified yet)

http://chinesepod.com/ (teaching Mandarin online; hundreds of thousands of podcast downloads each month plus many other supplemental language services; Ken Carroll is a co-founder; contact is ken.paul.carroll@gmail.com)

http://spanishpod.com/ (the latest venture of the people from Chinesepod; expected to grow even faster than Chinesepod did)

http://www.englishpod.com/ Focused on mobile English learning in China. Same company, Praxis, as Chinesepod and Spanishpod.

http://www.notesinspanish.com/spanish-audio/
Podcast-based website to learn Spanish. Podcasts are divided in 3 categories: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Lesson guides for each podcast are for sale. An online forum is available for users to exchange information.

http://www.radiolinguamedia.com/cbs/www/guide/index.html
Free weekly high quality podcasts to learn Spanish or French. Bonus materials such as lesson guides and additional audio materials are for sale. The website also includes an online forum



Other resources:
1. Florida Virtual School: http://www.flvs.net/ (30,000+ students as of 1-2 years ago; contact them for more info if needed). Foreign language examples: http://www.flvs.net/products_services/2005_showcase_flvs/forlang/forlang_index.htm (Julie Young is the director; aypf@aypf.org; Direct: jyoung@flvs.net
2. Webheads: http://prosites-vstevens.homestead.com/files/efi/webheads.htm (an online community of ESL instructors and community for online language learning; share information on teaching language online; conferences for instructors, etc.); contact Vance Stevens, UAE, vstevens@emirates.net.ae or vance_stevens@yahoo.com. Vance may have some numbers for you!
3. Pocket School project (for underserved children): http://ed.stanford.edu/IT/about-us/paul-kim.html and http://www.stanford.edu/~phkim/project/consulting.html Mobile language learning for children from Latin America. Uses relatively cheap ($20) MP3 players. “This project involves the assessment, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of mobile learning technology to provide underserved indigenous children in Latin America with equitable access to basic education and literacy exposure in health and environmental safety. The primary framework for the design and implementation addresses situation specificity, cultural sensitivity, practical usability, theoretical applicability, economical scalability, and viable sustainability.”





K-12 Language Learning Tools


http://www.childtopia.com/ Free Flash-based multimedia educational website for kids. It includes educational activities such as drawing numbers and letters; listening and reading comprehension; and learning how to draw. All activities are in the following five languages: English, French, Spanish, Catalan, and Basque.

http://www.eslflashcards.com/ This website provides free access to multiple PDF format files that contain colored flash cards to facilitate teaching vocabulary. The flash cards do not contain text, just images. This makes it possible to use them to teach vocabulary in different languages.

http://www.esl-kids.com/ A great variety of free instructional material for K-12 English teachers such as flashcards, worksheets, games, and song lyrics.

http://www.kindersay.com/ Flash-based multimedia website for learning English vocabulary. Pictures of objects are shown along with text and a video of a native English speaker saying the actual content of each picture.

http://www.teachertube.com/ Following the
same concept as YouTube, this free website allows any one to upload videos; the only requirement is that the videos should be instructional. Using the search tool is possible to quickly identify language learning related videos.




Potential Areas for Research


Topic 1. Craig would like to take the lead position on this paper.

Analysis of the technological features and pedagogical strategies used for the acquisition of a second language (L2) in web-based environments.
The goal of this analysis will be the design of a model intended to facilitate and promote learning a L2 in an online environment. The model will target adult learners mainly.

Topic 2. Miguel would like to take the lead position on this paper

A historic overview of the use of technology for the acquisition of a L2. This study will analyze what kind of technologies have been used to promote learning a L2, what seems to have worked and why? What didn't work at all and why? Is it enough the use of technology to guarantee the acquisition of a L2? What are the current trends in the use of technology for L2? What kind of devices (that do not exist yet) would potentially promote learning and they're likely to be invented in the near future?





Related Studies & Resources


This can be a place where a useful articles are reviewed and points pinpointed for our various analysis. We should note here that Dan Craig is also an excellent resource as he has focused on this general area while he was in the IST program. He is now teaching in Seoul.

Uschi (2001). Beyond Babel: Language Learning Online This is a link to the complete online version of the book report!

Stepp-Greany (2002). Student perceptions on language learning in a technological environment: Implications for the new millennium. Language Learning & Technology. 6,(1), 165-180.
In this study, 358 Spanish undergrad students completed a questionnaire about their perception of using technology for learning the language. The study was interested in:
a) Determining if the role of the instructor is important (according to the conclusions, it is important at some level).
b) Accessibility of the technology used.
c) Level of students' enjoyment/motivation
d) Level of confidence and mastery acquired (as perceived by the students)
This particular study did not involve the use of video/audio conferencing.
The only technologies used in this study were: Interactive audio-visual CD-ROM, threaded discussions, email, online resources.
Students received f2f instruction three times per week and they use the computer lab just 1 day per week.
The study concludes that:
More than 60% of the students perceived that their reading and listening skills had improved by using the technology. 'These perceptions of improved listening and reading skills with technology lend support to findings of improved listening skills reported by Glisan et al. (1998) and students' perceptions of improved reading skills reported by Beauvois (1994) and Lunde (1990)." (p. 171).
"instructors have an important role in technology enhanced learning environments, especially those that incorporate complex learning paradigms involving constructivist or whole language principles" (174).
"Less able learners appear to learn more from drill and tutorial programs than more able learners (Rockman, in Weiss, 1994) and beginning students, in general, appear to value a certain amount of repetition and structure (Conrad, 1999)" (p. 175).





Reference Wishlist







L2 Acquisition Theories


I'm not sure how deep we need to go as far as analyzing, comparing and evaluating each L2 theory, but probably it won't hurt to become familiar with most of them to have a theoretical background for the application of technology in this area.

Here are some L2 learning theories:

References already obtained: (it seems we must not include links to these papers for copyright issues, though).
  • Lantolf, P. (2006). Sociocultural Theory and L2: State of the Art. Cambridge University Press, 28, 67-109
  • VanPatten, B. (2002). Processing Instruction: An Update. Language Learning, 52(4), 755-803.

Pending references:
  • L. White, Linguistic Theory, Universal Grammar, and Second Language Acquisition.
  • K. Bardovi-Harlig, One Functional Approach to Second Language Acquisition: The Concept-Oriented Approach.
  • N.C. Ellis, The Associative-Cognitive CREED.
  • R. DeKeyser, Skill Acquisition Theory.
  • B. VanPatten, Input Processing in Adult Second Language Acquisition.
  • M. Pienemann, Processability Theory.
  • S.E. Carroll, Autonomous Induction Theory.
  • S.M. Gass, A. Mackey, Input, Interaction, and Output in Second Language Acquisition.
  • J.P. Lantolf, S.L. Thorne, Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning.
  • L. Ortega, Second Language Learning Explained? SLA Across Nine Contemporary Theories.






Potential Journals for Publishing


This is a catalog of places to send published work to. Here's a start:

Internal Resources


Second Life Resources
Internet-based L2 Tools Feature Comparison