Livemocha rocks, and so do you
Really, though, you do rock ;) you rock SO MUCH that I'm going to share my first true love. No, not a story about that crush I had in fourth grade, but my first language love.
When I was first intrigued to learn French, I didn't know where to start. There were programs like Rosetta Stone (don't mention that name to me--it's forbidden on my site!) that cost a lot of money, which wasn't an option for me since I didn't work. During my search, I found a website called Livemocha.
Now, after finally using something other than Internet Explorer, I can use it again--yay!
This website is really nice for beginners to get on their feet with a new language, especially if you don't have people who speak the language around you. You can make friends, chat, and provide advice for people learning languages you speak.
Here, I am going to show you some screenshots from my attempt at Swedish with Livemocha. There are four stages that you go through per lesson, which we will go further into depth.
1) Learn--probably the most required for the lesson, this part focuses on introducing you to the new vocabulary/phrases, the pronunciation, and the meanings.
2) Review--you will be "quizzed" on your newly-learned vocabulary with reading and listening exercises. You will have to match a photo with the description/phrase, or re-create the sentence. Both of these ways are to help you remember the phrases and (hopefully) place them into long-term memory. (IMO) it's a really fun way to recognize and remember the new information, and it is simple.
3) Write--this can be a bit complicated at first, but the meaning of the exercise is to allow you to understand how to use your new vocabulary. When you hit <Submit>, others will be able to make corrections for you and/or tell you how well you did.
4) Speak--ah, the fun part! During this exercise, I've noticed that they'll give you words that you haven't yet learned. While that's okay, it may be frustrating since you may not know how to pronounce them. Once you add audio, you can submit it, where it will be reviewed by another speaker. Some speakers are kind enough to make a recording of their own voice so that you can hear the pronunciation better, which rocks!
And, you're done! All set to go onto the next lesson! If you want extra practice, you can hit one of the three tabs under <Skill Builder Exercises> on the bottom right hand corner.
The thing that always amazes me about the site is how much content they allow people to learn for free. There are courses which you can buy, called Active Courses, and from my personal experience they work really well if you are dedicated to learning the language. Those courses offer more insight and grammar lessons, and allow you to participate in "role plays" with your voice recording. They also have quizzes and tests, which makes me jump for joy (sadly). I completed three of the four Active French courses and I really did enjoy them, but the free courses are great as well!
If you have any questions at all about the program, feel free to ask away! What I would recommend, from personal experience, is to get a notebook for the specific language and write your notes/new vocabulary in there, as well as grammar explanations that you find difficult. That way, you can find all of your progress in one spot.