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My Lang-8 Addiction

Jan 19, 2015, By: Audrey

I’m addicted to lang-8. It’s Evan’s fault.

A few months ago, he introduced me to a fantastic website: www.lang-8.com. It’s a language-learning website, but unlike any I’d seen before. There are no cliched study tip tutorials; no “11 Essential Expressions” articles, no pedantic podcasts. It’s not a translation site or a video chat venue. It makes no promises about helping you achieve native-like fluency in six months.

Lang-8 is a forum for posting your own writing samples in your target language (in our case, Japanese) and receiving correction and feedback from native speakers of that language. In return, I am expected to make comments and corrections for users who learning their my native language. The more corrections I make, the higher priority Lang-8 gives my post in other users’ feeds, and the more likely I am to receive corrections from others.

There are 18 languages available to learn. Some users are learning / posting in more than one. Japanese is enough for me, thanks. I tend to restrict my interactions to users who are native Japanese speakers.

Why do I love Lang-8?

  • No awkwardness. I know I make a lot of mistakes in Japanese, and an in-the-flesh language helper might be reluctant to correct all of them. But on lang-8, there are no personal relationships to make the giving and receiving of feedback uncomfortable.

  • No mooching. I love helping people, but these days in most areas of my life I’m almost always the one being helped instead. On lang-8, I can earn my keep by revising posts by English-learners.

  • Cultural insights. Even though I’m reviewing others’ posts in English, I still get glimpses into Japanese culture. What does this person feel is important enough to write about? Which words did he/she choose? How does he/she feel about the subject?

  • Gospel opportunities. Okay, technically lang-8’s Terms of Service asks users not to post about controversial topics, such as politics and religion. But a major reason I joined and use the website is to polish my children’s messages for church. I post a disclaimer at the top of the entry, letting readers know it’s about the Bible and that I don’t intend to stir up trouble. I am certain that many who read my posts have little or no other exposure to the gospel.

On any user’s page, you can see how many journals (posts) they’ve made, how many corrections they’ve received and how many times they’ve corrected others. My numbers are slightly out of balance. I’ve posted less than a dozen times, and I tend to make more corrections than I receive.

Lang-8 can’t replace personal study time or meeting face-to-face with a language partner, but lang-8 has been a great learning tool for me. My vocabulary and grammar are sounding more natural, and I’m gaining confidence in my children’s message presentations. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check to see if anyone has fixed the first half of my talk about Joseph’s dreams for next Sunday.