I haven't visited LiveMocha since probably last March, when it's usefulness faded behind my growing Italian vocabulary. But last week I went and played with it and found that it's completely different... and not in a good way.
I don't believe that any program, system, web site, book, CD, or software can ever be perfect, because language is used in real life, where the topics and the inputs are unpredictable and always changing. However, I have always found LiveMocha to be an excellent free tool, well-designed for the purpose of helping a complete newbie to get familiar with the sounds and writing, and a bit of the grammar in a new language.
The lessons were based on slowly adding new material, and repeating it in a few different contexts, and I found this to be a really handy way to get accustomed to pronunciation and slowly build a basic vocabulary to get started in a new language.
My only real complaint about LiveMocha's usefulness was that they never taught the most useful conversational phrases, such as "hello", "how are you", "good morning", etc. But that was only a minor complaint, since those things are easy to find on 100 other sites, or in a phrasebook.
Apparently, they've responded to that complaint
It seems I must not be the only person who had that complaint about LiveMocha. Last week, when I visited LiveMocha, I was shocked to be introduced to a completely new format for Lesson 1. Now, instead of building up from a handful of words in lesson 1, you are immediately introduced to 40 phrases, with little or no repetition.
It seems as if in order to respond to the one complaint about their product, they've compromised everything that made LiveMocha good. They seemingly "shoe-horned" the new phrases into the beginning of lesson 1, at the cost of everything that made LiveMocha a good tool for beginners.
In the past I have recommended their web site as a great free place for people to go to begin their learning in a new language, but based on my recent experience I will no longer be making that recommendation.
As of today, the only worthwhile feature of LiveMocha is their social network, and it seems like there are a hundred better ways to connect with people, so I am sad to say that my interest in their web site is done, and I probably won't ever go back.