Last week I was in New Orleans, attending the huge conference about computer graphics, Siggraph 2009. For 2 years I have been a member of LingQ. In fact, the reason I became a member was precisely that 2 years ago I also went to Siggraph (that year at San Diego) and I wanted to practice my English before the trip. I can say that this visit to Siggraph, compared with the visit 2 years ago, was much more productive, I was much more able to understand all the talks, to express my self better explaining my poster, and the whole experience was much better. So being an active (some times irregular) LingQ member paid off.
However, I also had the opportunity to get awareness of the weak points of my English. Today I can understand live talks and even TV shows (mostly), but fast jokes and live conversations with native speakers, and spontaneous conversation are still beyond my language skills. The only way to improve at those skills is practicing in real environments, like living there more time.
I can not afford that way right now, so I want to propose a new kind of conversations here at LingQ. Most current conversations are individual, just the tutor and a student. The few in which many people participate (as much as 4), usually go down to the level of the weaker student.
I imagine something like having two or three native speakers (maybe not all tutors) and just one or two advanced or intermediate students, and practice just casual conversation. That would be more challenging and more approximated to reality.
What do you think?