The Lingo Ledger

Rosetta Stone buys LiveMocha: 5 Reasons Why This Was a Mistake (Part II)

This is Part II of our previous blog post entitled "Rosetta Stone buys LiveMocha: 5 Reasons Why This Was a Mistake". 

Previously, we learned that Rosetta Stone's purchase of LiveMocha was a mistake because (1) LiveMocha doesn't offer a mobile platform, (2) their user base and acquisition strategy is entirely different, (3) Rosetta Stone needs credibility in the language learning community, and (4) LiveMocha won't give them that credibility because...

#5: LiveMocha and Rosetta Stone don't meet the biggest need of today's language learner: the ability to learn from a native, anytime and anywhere.

At LingoLive, we've interviewed hundreds of parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, corporate employees, students, and passionate language learners and have listened closely to the one consistent, resounding piece of feedback: "I want to learn from a native speaker". Learn from a native, that's a pretty simple concept.

We know what you're thinking, Livemocha and Rosetta Stone both offer tutoring, what are you talking about?! Let's break down this assertion:

Rosetta Stone's TOTALe platform offers the ability to meet with a live teacher:

  1. in a GROUP class, not a one-on-one setting...
  2. only after you've progressed past a certain point in their software (long after most users have given up)...
  3. you can only choose a few time slots per week when the classes are available.


As for LiveMocha, the site offers one-on-one instruction from a native tutor, however:

  1. The lessons are prohibitively expensive (~$40 per hour of instruction)...
  2. the instruction has nothing to do with LiveMocha content because...
  3. the tutors have little to do with LiveMocha!


LiveMocha tutors are provided through a European online tutoring service called Learnissimo. By relying on a third party to handle the one-on-one conversational aspect of their learning, LiveMocha is marginalizing the number one desire of language learners and the most effective method for learning a language.

LiveMochissimo Not a game of Spot The Difference

From a business standpoint, this makes sense. You build a platform with content you can build cheaply or license from third party providers, then recoup those costs over time by charging users for access. You know live instruction is important but you offer it merely as an added feature due to its costs and complexities. As we saw in Part 1, these strategies aren't exactly working out as both companies have struggled to get the most fundamental business ratio right: Lifetime Value / Acquisition Cost of the user.

Shouldn't those arrows be going in the opposite direction? Shouldn't those arrows be going in the opposite direction?

Outdated or cumbersome software doesn't stand a chance in today's world. Users are demanding more and are telling the world wide web about their dissatisfaction with monotonous, cookie-cutter software. Today's language learner looks for a more personalized, interactive, and convenient experience that makes them accountable to the learning. Most busy learners are choosing between:

  1. an interactive group class somewhere in town, which lacks personalization and mobility,
  2. expensive private tutors, who usually aren't natives and can be inconvenient, or
  3. giving up since they're too busy to figure out the lesser of two evils.


Learn from a native, why is this so complicated? While some platforms, like Verbling, offer the ability to access native language partners online, they lack structure. As Tim Ferriss points out, native English speakers suck at teaching English. Speaking your native language is merely second nature, not a "skill". By assuming that natives can teach their own language, you are claiming that anybody can teach.

Teachers are trained to understand the differences between their language and yours. They know how to adapt the language to your intended uses (e.g. a business meeting, buying train tickets, meeting your girlfriend's parents...etc.). Most importantly, they have the patience and skill to get you through concepts that are wearing you down. If you're learning the language, you need a real teacher.

The LingoLive Method - Native teachers accessible anytime, anywhere

Our students at LingoLive have proven that a great teacher is a need so valuable and immediate that they're willing to pay for it. However, we've learned over the years that having your own teacher is only part of the solution. It can take weeks of private lessons to get to a point where you're both on the same page, meanwhile the learner is incurring the cost. Enter software.

Rather than a lecture-style format where the teacher talks and you listen, we flip the classroom for language learning by pairing software with live, native tutors over video chat. If you signed up for a free Spanish lesson today, you'd have instant access to video tutorials and online exercises where you can start learning the language at your own pace. Meanwhile, your progress would be sent to your tutor before your lesson so he/she knows your level and what you need to work on. During your live online lesson, you'll be developing areas of proficiency while learning how best to communicate with a native.

Diego and Megan hard at work Diego and Megan hard at work

Here's an example: Megan, a nurse in Connecticut, is meeting online with her Mexican tutor Diego,  as part of her twice a week lesson plan.

Diego: "Your online review tells me you have difficulties with the future tense."

Megan: "Yup, I understand past and present but future tense is something I never use".

Diego: "OK, using the future tense tell me:

  1. what you are going to do later today...
  2. how many patients you will see next week...
  3. and what your goals are over the next year?"


By the way, all of this will be in Spanish because Megan has already achieved our Purple Belt proficiency level within the first month.

The result is a system where Megan spends 100% of her online lessons with Diego SPEAKING Spanish. He corrects her pronunciation and helps her break through areas of frustration while Megan learns new concepts on her own time. In Diego, Megan has someone who is not just a highly-qualified Spanish teacher, but also will personalize the learning to her needs and make her accountable. She can reschedule her lessons easily in Diego's online calendar and can access him anywhere she has an internet connection. Most importantly, she has a friend she can trust who is teaching her so much more than just the language.

A private tutor in Megan's area will never offer such convenience, personalization, and accountability. Best of all, Megan pays around $22 per hour, about half the cost of an equally-qualified tutor in her area (if she can even find one).

Delivering breakthroughs

Our goal is to deliver as many of those "a-ha" language learning moments as possible, whether that happens through an online video tutorial or through a breakthrough in one of your private lessons. We're far more likely to bring our students these "a-ha" moments because our strategy was created specifically for Spanish by Spanish linguists; they're not language strategies copied-and-pasted across vastly different languages.

As always, we'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to comment on this post to let us know how we're doing or find us on twitter. Earlier, we provided a link to a free trial Spanish lesson. We hope you take this opportunity to test drive our solution for yourself.

We look forward to hearing from you!