Learning a language on your own can be a challenge. We hope that our podcasts and other materials help you to learn where and when suits you best. The Radio Lingua community is made up of hundreds of thousands of learners all across the world, and we’d like to engage the community further and get more of you talking about your language learning.

The old version of our site featured a discussion forum which was popular among users, but was unfortunately plagued with spam and this caused some major headaches for our very small team. The discussion forum also predated our new membership system, which meant that users had to have different accounts in the discussion forum and in the members’ system.

When we launched the new Radio Lingua website in May we did not include links to the former discussion forum, as we had hoped that the discussions would move to the main website and that discussions would take place around the blog posts related to the episodes of our podcasts. However, this does not seem to be working particularly well and we’d like your help in trying to move forward with a discussion forum which will be active, useful to learners, and not too ‘cliquey’.

We do have strong presences on Facebook with our Coffee Break Spanish and Coffee Break French pages, and we use Twitter regularly to interact with our community, but we feel that the discussions about Radio Lingua materials should ideally be taking place here on our site.

While we’re not aiming to be the new WordReference or anything like that (as they do such a great job already and have a huge userbase) we would like to provide a place where you can share your learning, help each other with the language(s) you’re learning, and find answers to any questions you may have about using our materials.

So, what do you think?

  • Is it enough to use the blogging and podcast system here on the site to develop conversations, inviting listeners to comment on our posts?
  • Should we develop a discussion forum for members’ only?
  • Should there be a fee involved in the members’ only forum which would in turn help us to ‘staff’ the forum properly with native speakers, teachers, etc?
  • Are there other ways to manage and police the discussion forum to avoid the spam problems we’ve experienced in the past?
  • Should we rely on the discussions happening on Facebook and Twitter for interaction?
  • Do you have any experiences of other discussion forums or systems?

We’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this. Please post a comment on this discussion (rather than discussing it elsewhere!) and we’ll try to move forward with whatever works best for the community.

    37 replies to "Discussions: the Radio Lingua Forum"

    • Macca

      I think some sort of forum should come back. I’m finding it hard to practice my spanish other than to listen to the podcasts.

      I wouldn’t be sure how to police it but I think a fee would disuade people from signing-up. No one is going to pay for a forum that isn’t used very much.

      Perhaps there could be a buddying system where people can talk to native speakers of the language they are learning who in turn are trying to learn the langauge the other person speaks? Might be too complex though.

    • radiolingua radiolingua

      Interesting thoughts, Macca – thanks. With regard to the buddy system, there are quite a number of systems like this out there, and to be honest we’re trying to differentiate ourselves a little from some of them: native speakers have huge amounts to offer in terms of the day-to-day use of the language, but sometimes they don’t have as much experience of teaching the language to non-native speakers. With Radio Lingua you learn from qualified, experienced teachers (some of whom are native speakers) and we hope this way our courses can be more progressive and planned. This is, of course, not intended to negate the value of involving native speakers at all!

    • Ken Sjoberg

      I’ve seen where many foros crash and burn. It seems like they have to reach a critical mass in order to work. You probably have to have people regester, but then that may discourage the growth. I would like to see maybe a link page that would serve to refer people to other resources. Why no just use what is already out there. There is a wonderful foro run out of Chile. If you ask, you will get a reply and good information. Goolge “foro in espanol” if anyone is interested. Word Reference is great also.

    • Ken Sjoberg

      Sorry, google “foro en espanol”.

      good luck

    • Lisa aka tuerca caso

      I find the old discussion boards very helpful, especially due to the wide geographic spread of CBS and STS users. This way, those of us who feel a bit like your family can ask questions of each other and don’t have to explain the context on an external site. I do find the Word Reference discussion boards helpful as well, but frankly, it serves a different purpose for me. I enjoy the RLN boards, but I do understand quite well how combatting spamming activities costs time and money, let alone the amount of frustration on your part. Mark, you and your team are fabulous– don’t ever think otherwise. Do what you have to do, but my vote is for some kind of forum here. I find the blog replies and posts hard to track and use. Muchas gracias, Don Mark!

    • Beth in California

      I have seen some very interesting forums such as on lesson 42 in CBS. It would be great to have more like that.

      I just discovered this program recently and am really enjoying it all. An inexpensive forum to subscribe would be good!
      Thank you so much.

    • Kevin Neadley

      I think that there should be a specific discussion forum that is only accessible to CBS members. I have to admit that your Twitter presence is extremely appreciated, although a members area exclusive to CBS members would be an excellent addition.

      I am not sure adding another fee to help staff the forum would go down to well but that is just my personal opinion. I suppose you could give every member a free trial (30 days perhaps) then after this they would have the option to pay a fee to re-gain access to the discussion forum.

      Hope this helps,

      Kevin

    • radiolingua radiolingua

      @ken Agreed that critical mass is definitely one of the things which makes a forum worthwhile. We certainly had that in both the very first Coffee Break Spanish forum back in 2006 when CBS was all we were producing. As things developed we set up a new forum which unfortunately meant people had to sign up again and we managed to build things up to quite a significant userbase, with a healthy ‘core’ of people who were contributing to discussions regularly.

      @ken With reference to using “what’s already out there” on other sites, I agree that there are some excellent resources out there for language learners, but perhaps what we’re aiming at is having a resource where learners using CBS, CBF, STS, etc., can talk about their experience using our courses with other learners, or even just share techniques and tips they’ve developed for using, eg. the enhanced podcasts or the notes, etc. Thanks for your contribution and ideas!

      @lisa Thanks for your kind comments. We agree that the blog replies are hard to track and use. Perhaps there’s a way of making them easier to find, or perhaps we should just move to the forum idea for everything. Like you, I use WordReference lots in my own language learning, and I like the way that WR can provide information as to how language is used in different parts of the world. But we’re really trying to create something particular to Radio Lingua here, as I’ve explained above.

      @beth Thanks for your comments. I’m not quite sure what the forum on lesson 42 in CBS you’re referring to is. Can you provide a link?

      @kevin There are certain things which members can access and which members need to talk about which, I feel, shouldn’t be part of a public discussion. Ultimately our business model is based on the fact that if anyone wants to learn to speak they can do so quite well with our free audio content. If a learner wants to move a stage further and learn to read and write the language then they can do so by using our premium materials. For that reason, very little in the way of written Spanish/French etc. is provided on our public pages. And while some users have posted the words and phrases contained in lessons on their own blogs, this really takes away from our premium content. Perhaps the danger in developing a forum with parts for members and other parts for non-members would be dealing with the situation where a discussion was started on the non-members’ area of the forum about the contents of a particular lesson.

      I wonder: what about a forum which carries a small charge, eg £3 per month – unless you’ve bought a premium product, in which case you get 3 or 6 months’ access to the forum for free. How does that sound? I think we can do that with our software!

      Your thoughts are appreciated!

    • radiolingua radiolingua

      Just adding in another comment from listener cdowis posted on another blog entry:

      > Suggestion to eliminate spam in the forum, which is used by another forum. Geve volunteers who are active participants in the forum the right to delete a thread. They become Spambusters. Whenever a thread is opened with spam, it almost immediately gets deleted, and the forum is spam free.

      My response @cdowis: As part of any new forum we’d definitely be looking for some volunteers to moderate the forum.

    • Meg

      I loved the forums and found them super helpful
      Charging a small fee sounds like a pretty good idea, but I’m really hoping you won’t do that. I’m just a poor youngster trying to learn languages.
      I think getting some volunteer moderators would be the best idea. I only saw spam on the forum once, so if you could get a lot of people to help, it hopefully wouldn’t be much of a problem.

    • Neil

      Just to add my voice to those finding the lack of forums to be a loss.

      Regarding the suggestion of charging for access for non-premium subscribers. It seemed to me that some of the folks who participated in the old forum were pretty clued up. My impression was they participated as a favour to their fellow human beings rather than because they needed to listen to the podcasts to learn Spanish. Forcing them to pay to help us seems a little much!

    • Beth in California

      Hi Mark and all,

      It some time to give this link of the forum I really liked. It is good because gives a strong structure on what to post.

      http://www.radiolinguamedia.com/bb/cbf-bb/viewtopic.php?t=37

      More topics like this one would be most helpful!

      warmly,

    • Alan D'Augustine

      After completion of CBF Level 2A, and the perfect tense, it is very rewarding to revisit the earlier episodes of WT&L.
      I was finally able to understand the hotel clerk who said “je me suis tombée” when she erred during Anna’s attempt to confirm her reservations… Leçon 33, je pense.

    • Alan D'Augustine

      Je me suis trompé aussi!
      Quand j’ai lu ma note au-dessus, j’ai vu que je me suis trompé (aussi) parce que j’ai écrit “tombée” au lieu de “trompée”.
      Je suis désolé.
      Je voudrais éditer ces notes mieux.
      C’est très gênant

    • Adam Pollard

      When I was a forum moderator, we cut out 99% of the spam simply by making each new sign up subject to moderator approval before they could post. Firstly the system sent a confirmation email that had to be clicked on to ensure it is a working email address. Then before you approve the applicant, you check the email address and the name given.
      It was generally quite easy to spot the spam, typically hotchix4u@bimbo.ru or manhoodgrowth@pharms4u.cz or something like that. With real names quite silly too. Also, by having a lot of moderators, any spammers that slipped through could get immediately banned or posts deleted. Blog posts, in my opinion are more suited to publishers /journalists than communities. They are quite top-heavy.

    • Harry

      No way you’re going to charge for the forum. I definitely will choose some other forum (like that on about.com) if you do.

    • Jake

      I am a former user of the forums that were for all the Coffee Break languages. I would strongly recommend bringing something like that back. It’s much much easier to keep track of than this, I think. You can just ask a random Spanish question, this seems to be more confined to just that episode.
      I learned a whole lot from the forums. A lot of our native Spanish speakers would do things like give us homework and things like that. It was also an easy way to organize things such as trying to do a audio lesson with ourselves via Skype. (I think that’s what we were trying to do)
      This is very nice too. I understand why RLM did the switch, blogs seem to be the coolest thing right now. But I think that the forum was much more affective. The blogs seem to limit the discussion too much.
      Also, charging for the forum would be a bad idea, I believe. We would just go other places. The forum, in my opinion, is just an extension of your learning in the lessons and a helpful reinforcer.

      Anyways, hope I didn’t ramble.
      Thanks so much.

      Jake

    • Shannon

      Though I think that people could certainly use other forums, I think it’s nice to have forums just for Radio Lingua people because I feel like there’s something special and familial about the Radio Lingua programs and the forums reinforce that. I guess I could speak with anyone about how to conjucate an irregular verb, but I want to also be able to laugh with other RL folks about how Kara got carried away talking about stripey and polka-dotted galoshes in CBS during unit 2.

      I have seen other forums choose forum members to be moderators. Since you folks have such a small team, it would be too much work for you to constantly be policing and approving comments. It seems like asking for trouble to allow ANYONE to delete a post or thread, but, it seems like there are some pretty loyal RL folks out there who might enjoy taking a more active role like this.

      Not that I’m volunteering. 🙂

      Keep up the good work, guys; I’m so glad to have found you and have derived much enjoyment from your programs!

    • Mike de Fine

      I chanced upon radio-linga while looking for information on learning spanish and felt I had struck pure gold when I discovered Coffe Break Spanish. Absolutely brilliant. I listen to about 45 minutes worth travelling to and from work. If you can keep up the standard it will remain the best on the planet because:
      1. It is easy to access.
      2. You have managed to make it fun/entertaining.
      3. Kara has a brilliant ‘smile’ in her voice.
      4. The content is so well focussed on usefullness.

      For you new/alternate forum to be successful it will need most of the above attributes. If you charge money for it, it will die a quick death. The average scholar, student, housewife will recuse themselves and who will that leave? Volunteer moderators will probably be the best. I think you may be suprised how many people will become loyal volunteers and sustain the forum.
      Mike,
      from Zululand, RSA.

    • Tom Windsor

      I love the forum, I really don’t want to see it go!

    • Joy Perrett

      Having only just recently started with Coffeebreak French, I find it extremely interesting and hopefully useful. It has taken me a while to get going wih Facebook and Twitter. However, having read all the posts I cannot say what is the best way to go, but it did occur to me that a Forum seems a good idea.
      How you can go about it, well, over to you Mark

    • Bill Minnis

      I find it disappointing that the forums were locked without much notice and without offering a workable alternative. Not only has valuable discussion stopped dead, but it is also now inmpossible to give Mark the feedback he continually asks for.Running forums is not rocket science and many commercial organisations do it successfully. Surely someone from RLI can tap into what must be existing know-how?

    • radiolingua radiolingua

      Thanks to everyone for your input on this. We always appreciate your comments and feedback. As you’re all aware we have been looking at these issues for some time and we’ve been taking on board all of the suggestions here.

      We’ve yet to make a final decision but would ask that you bear with us as we make these changes. Please be aware that we’re a small company with limited resources and we don’t have a huge technical department ready to implement such changes. Indeed, the ‘technical department’ is basically the same team who write and produce the weekly podcasts, who answer the queries in our helpdesk, and who manage the website. We’ll do our best to implement the best solution for our listeners as soon as possible.

    • Tibor

      Thank you very much for this site.I appreciate very high that someone did such a good.In answer to previous posts I would like to say, that I think fee for a forum is very good idea.We must think not about paying or not paing a few euros.But using those money efficiently.Really it is not much for a month.If Mark wrote he would find a natives-teachers for forum it would be worth that money.Think about that.How much you pay for private language courses or for school courses.If you calculate it, it is a huge amount of money and result.From my experience, I think most of courses(private or school) are not worth even a few euros.On the end you are very likely to find you dont know much more than when you knew when you begun with that.So much money and time wasted.And result: nothing or not much.To be honest, surely they are a good teachers and good courses, but I think there is most of those which are not good.With a consideration of how much material is here on website for free.Yes we can learn a language.We dont have to pay first and see later, but we can learn and we dont have to pay, but still we can learn.And when we want enhance our knowledge we can pay for becoming a members.It is very honest from presenters of this radio(of this website).I see what you did.This is why I think if you were asking those few euros for month and did what you wrote you would, it would be worth of money.So this is my opinion.I thank you Mark and I thank your team for doing so good job.And I thank the community for making those usefull coments and helping each other.Your listener.

    • Stella

      I would definitely welcome a forum to discuss the Show Time Spanish episodes with other learners. It doesn’t matter that there are loads of other Spanish forums on other sites, the important thing is to be able to discuss this particular course in detail with other people who are doing it, and to share ideas, comments and difficulties we are having.

      It can be isolating learning on your own, however good the programme, and there is something reassuring about knowing that there’s someone else out there who has just listened to the same podcast.

      I’ve just started Show Time Spanish, and am finding it excellent, with just the right balance of natural conversation, colloquial expressions and formal teaching. The only thing missing is the interactive element, where the learners can comment or practice their Spanish with others.

    • radiolingua radiolingua

      We’ve tried to take on board all your comments and are delighted to announce our new DIscussion Forum. This forum has two elements: there are general discussions and support forums similar to what we provided before, and there are also special forums for members of our Season Pass system. Find out more here.

      Thanks to you all for your comments.

    • Kate

      Two days ago I subscribed to Show Time Spanish using my credit card but in spite of many attempts have been unable to access the materials, in particular the pdf files. I am unable to download them even though I am signed in. After clicking on the pdf icon a new signup/dialog box appears and it does not accept my user name or password for radiolingua. It also does not accept my ISP signup data.

      This is the error message that comes up:
      “Authorization Required
      This server could not verify that you are authorized to access the document requested. Either you supplied the wrong credentials (e.g., bad password), or your browser doesn’t understand how to supply the credentials required.” Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
      I sent a note asking for help but have received no reply. Any help you can provide in resolving this time consuming frustration would be appreciated.

      Thanks.

    • Psypesuence

      Yo!
      New here and first post.
      I am boy, 28 years old from Spain
      I hope to enjoy here.

    • Roberto

      Thank you for all your work, the language learning experience is wonderful here!

      One litte suggestion:
      Less English!
      Try to talk more in the language you are teaching.
      When I was learning English the teacher in class just spoke in English at all time. We learned fine anyway.
      Now, I understand that just by audio this is more difficult but I’m thinking that trying to speak more in the language you are teaching is certainly beneficial.
      More examples with more complex dialagues containing the little sentence you are trying to teach so student can see in a bigger contest how the phrase is used.
      Thank you.

    • veloFloado

      Just wanted to say hello someplace. Found [url=http://www.google.com/ncr]you guys through google[/url]. Hope to contribute more soon!
      -veloFloado

    • Justin Moss

      Hi Mark,

      Is it enough to use the blogging and podcast system here on the site to develop conversations, inviting listeners to comment on our posts?

      No

      Should we develop a discussion forum for members’ only?

      * Yes please

      Should there be a fee involved in the members’ only forum which would in turn help us to ’staff’ the forum properly with native speakers, teachers, etc?

      * Over and above the RLN Club Membership? No

      Are there other ways to manage and police the discussion forum to avoid the spam problems we’ve experienced in the past?

      * Yes, there are better forum software packages that allow you to auto-police the forums?

      Should we rely on the discussions happening on Facebook and Twitter for interaction?

      * No way

      Do you have any experiences of other discussion forums or systems?

      * A discussion forum for the purposes of practising my French is vital. Another idea might be voice chat rooms (I know Skype offer voice channels where people can just login and discuss with others also on ‘the line’).

    • Justin Moss

      Perhaps another idea (for the interim) is to create a web page of French Speaking Clubs by area (Country and City). This is something I am seeking at the moment, but I am having a hard time finding the ‘right one’ – comments from other students (in my area) would help me sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’.

    • marilyn

      I love Coffee Break Spanish!! I cannot attend Spanish classes due to other commitments and distance learning is not my style generally. The lessons are just the right length, well structured and fun to follow. I could not, however, have managed very well without purchasing the Platinum Membership. The PDF guides are particularly helpful to me. I purchased lessons 1-40 to try out and fully intend to complete the set. I am now at lesson 25. I would find a ‘forum’ very helpful and be willing to pay for membership. Perhaps the fee could be subsumed into the cost of purchasing additional learning materials and therefore be available to all members. None members could purchase access if they wish to do so. This may result in a smaller number of people accessing the forum but a high quality product would result. People purchase additional learning materials to enhance the free podcasts so why not consider the Forum just another arm of learning? Providing something is value for money, people will buy it if they feel they have a need to do so.

    • Per Tork Larsen

      Hi Mark and Kara. I love your Scotisk accent and I find it very easy to understand though I am from Denmark. Perhaps we have some ancestors in common back in the history. Nevermind I like your sence of houmor as well.
      BUT BUT I have hit the WALL I have been following your Coffe Break Spanish to lesson 58 and I i´m confused by all thos endings And I have yet not started the main past tense. Cerabral fatique magnu gradu. I have therfore listened to lesson 50 to 58 once more and taken some tests on the internet but it does not help much. I really need a book includding all endings, rules, reflexive pronouns, endings of verbs, and all that stuff. Something like a compendium for loking up things which are forgotten. what kind of book should I buy??

    • Hilary

      i’ve just started CBS and I’d like a Forum to follow other members and to see what problems other people have had at my stage (currently lesson 4). There is often a wealth of info to be had from others’ experiences.

      As for spam, why not restrict to paying members only (all grades) and have captcha codes? In my experience, that eliminates spam.

    • yonca

      I love show time spanish!! that is really helpfull and enjoyable. Thanks a lot.

    • Jandi

      I love CBF! Been tuning in since lesson 1 and along with my once a week night courses I take, in season 3 Im exactly where I should be. I understand just enough to really make use of the lesson, and enough new items that I listen to each lesson over and over again. The <> grammar notes like verb conjugations and indirect object pronouns are very clear – explained like a pro. I especially appreciate the reminders about the small articles like <> and <> where those go in sentences especially with 3 verbs in a row! E.g. Essayer DE faire qqchose. Those little words are trickiest and in common expressions, drilling these to listeners, one does get a sense of where they should belong now. Anyways fantastic job, the supplement notes are awesome and mini journals by the 3 speakers are fun as well as educational.

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