Palabea: Community-Based Lingual And Cultural Education

There are a number of ways you can learn languages these days. You can take a class at a K-12 institution or university, for one. You can buy an educational package from Rosetta Stone. There are online services from Mango Languages and Live Mocha, too, both of which are quite good.

Or, starting today, you can sign up for Palabea, a service that is said to act as an “international platform for language learning.” After spending several months as a limited-access resource, is now open to the public.

Initially launched in October 2007 and presently celebrating its grand opening (though still as a beta), Palabea’s primary purpose is two-fold. It’s macrocosmic objective is to enhance cultural relations. And how it seeks to facilitate those connections and achieve greater cohesiveness is via multilingualism.

Of course, as with many Web startups to come about in the last few years, key words are toss about in rather loose fashion. Everything is a platform. Everything is social. So you take the promotional copy with some measure of doubt. Palabea, however, easily proves that it has the requisite spread and depth to mean what it says.

It is without a doubt an full-on educational platform. Users can upload most anything relevant a modern learning experience. Documents, videos, podcasts. There’s even a place to hold virtual classrooms. Want to connect with particular site members? You may. Want to take your language learning to another level and consult with language specialists and schools? You can do that, too. There are choices for Spanish, Italian, German, French, Russian, Chinese, and English spaced around the world, and the list of organizations - which includes IMAC, ILS, Centro Italiano, StudyGlobal, and Academic English Studies - is bound only to grow.

As a whole Palabea delivers a multifaceted approach to learning. From casual encounters to serious pursuits, its linguistic panorama, painted by a membership of some 50,000+ members, is a fair sizable one given the fact that it has only been in operation for some 9 months or so. And because all features are wrapped in an elegant and friendly layout, it is likely to attract many more users, of a variety of ages and nationalities. Which would be quite a commendable outcome for the effort. The broader the parameters of Palabea’s membership, the better off the community will be.

And if the content provided by the community isn’t satisfying enough, Palabea has also established partnerships with several companies, including Deutsche Welle, Cafe Babel, Babylon, and TANDEM Fundazioa. BBC Learning English will soon be adding resources as well.

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