Lang-8 Review: Get Your Japanese Corrected By Awesome People

Conveying your thoughts in Japanese can be quite difficult. Reading and listening to Japanese is one thing; speaking and writing Japanese is quite another. And if you don’t live in Japan or have your own Japanese clique yet, outputting Japanese isn’t an easy habit to get yourself in.

review of lang-8 new

That’s why you should use Lang-8. It’s a language exchange blogging service, which sounds funny but works really well. The concept is pretty simple: Write blogs in your target language and get it corrected by people who have spoken it their whole life.

Writing

It can be intimidating to start writing in Japanese, especially if you’ve never done so before. I’d encourage you to give it a try, though, even if you don’t feel very confident. It’s fine to make mistakes. In my first blog post, I didn’t even spell こんにちは right!

You will make a lot of mistakes, but you’ll also learn a lot from them. You usually don’t have to wait long for corrections, and everyone is very kind and polite (this is Japan, after all). Be sure to thank them for their time and give them a few stars (Lang-8 currency of choice) for their trouble. You don’t necessarily need to write very often, but I like to keep myself on a schedule.

Correcting

Of course, if you want help with your writing, it’s only polite to return the favor. There are plenty of people in Japan with broken English who need some help with their language learning too. Take your time. You don’t want to make a mistake when correcting and mess up their English.

While it’s necessary to pay it forward, don’t spend too much time immersing yourself in English. It’s a very easy trap to fall into… fixing jumbled-up English is a lot more fun than it sounds! If you still feel guilty, you could try correcting their journal or leaving a comment in Japanese.

Friends!

Don’t forget to make some friends while you’re there. Be a nice guy and leave a few smiley faces on people’s blogs and everyone will want to be your friend. Learn how to write a friend request and send a few yourself, too. Some friendships will never go beyond a nice comment on the other’s blog, but you can get to know them a bit better if you’d like.

Many people leave their Skype information lying around or will give it to you if you ask, and it can be a great way to find some good language exchange partners if you decide to go down that road. Also, your friend’s entries will appear at the top of the home page so you can give them special attention. (And get special attention yourself!)

Also, as a little bonus, you can find a lot of good Japanese sentences to read and to review on Lang-8 too. Some users will write their posts in both English and Japanese, which is great because it’s authentic Japanese and the sentences are often fairly simple as well.

If you are looking for a fun way to improve your writing skills, give Lang-8 a go. Have you ever tried it out? How did it work out for you?

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Written by: Eric



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Eric

Eric

A writer for Japanese Level Up, a part-time graphic designer, and purveyor of fine Japanese art (which consists mostly of anime, manga and weird music). When he's not wasting time in Japanese, you can usually find him making pretty pictures or studying something that sounds interesting.

Comments

Lang-8 Review: Get Your Japanese Corrected By Awesome People — 5 Comments

  1. Though Lang-8 is a good tool, I think there are several key flaws with it.

    Probably the main one I find is that at an earlier level, you are forcing yourself to output Japanese. Forcing yourself to output is not good I believe, as you should speak Japanese naturally, and it should just come out. Forcing yourself to output can make bad habits, which can take a long time to fix.

    It’s a good thing that natives can correct your posts, but from what I observed is that people just look at the corrections and forget it later. I corrected some people’s English, and 6 months later they still made the same mistakes.

    And sometimes, people’s Japanese and English alike were so incorrect the people correcting couldn’t even understand what they were trying to convey. Not small grammar errors, but mistakes that prevented comprehension.

    That’s why I believe Lang-8 is a good tool, but should be saved until much later when Japanese is getting more natural and less forced.

    • Good point. I think it’s best to start Lang-8 close to intermediate level. The first time I found Lang-8, the only words I knew were こんにちは and 私は. I tried to write a sentence or two with the limited knowledge I had (and the help of Google Translate, I’m ashamed to admit) but gave up and bookmarked the site for later.

      But once you know the basics and maybe ~1,000 sentences, you can write something decent. I try to only write what I know; if I try to conceptualize it in Japanese and can’t, then I find something simpler to write. Vacations, study, hobbies, etc. are easy subjects to write on. I don’t get too abstract.

      It’s only natural that you won’t remember all the corrections you’ve been given. It’s more of a problem with human limitations than it is with Lang-8. You won’t master them immediately, either. I still mess up は and が from time to time.

      But I’m not sure whom you’re referring to when you mention people whose Japanese and English are both incomprehensible. I’ve never run across one, personally, and I can’t imagine there’s too many of them. If you aren’t even proficient in your own language, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t have much luck at learning a new one.

      As your grasp of the language increases, of course, it will be much easier to write naturally. I’ve seen some people that write something every day!

  2. I have been in and out of Lang 8 for a while. I found it a bit too early in my Japanese learning adventure, but I have since come back to it with great success. When I first posted, I was worried that people would not really respond or comment. How wrong I was… I got bunches of responses. My advice would be to be careful which suggestions to keep. Lang 8 has a great feature where for each line of your entry all the possible corrections are lined up underneath and you can choose the one you want to keep. Be careful deciding, which corrections are best. Also be kind and correct back on people who help you –great relationships will follow!

  3. I’ve gone back and forth with Lang-8. Sometimes I love it and it’s really my only chance to write in Japanese but it’s true that I’ll just look at the corrections briefly and then do nothing with them. I’m not quite sure how I should best use Lang-8. Rewrite the entries after with the corrections and see if they get re-corrected, much like what teachers do when you have to write essays? It’s a thought.

    Mostly though, I just hated seeing two things with people making English corrections:
    1) Not taking enough care to use proper grammar so they correct a Japanese speaker with things such as “should of” instead of “should have”.
    2) Non-native English speakers trying to correct the English on other non-native English speaker’s journals.

    It just makes you really question how good your corrections actually are. That’s why it’s important to make friends who you feel like are making good corrections. But, as you say, I start getting carried away trying to fix all the English mistakes of both the original entry posters and of the people who are trying to correct the mistakes of the posters. It’s a never-ending cycle!

  4. I tried Lang-8 a couple years ago. Let me tell you why I decided against using it.

    It’s true that you will get corrections on your mistakes, and can use them as a reference. However, the quality of the corrections might not be that good. There are a few reasons why. First of all, your mistakes may go unnoticed, even by native speakers. And second, when your mistakes are seen, people are guessing at what you intended to say. Sometimes, they get it wrong. Even assuming they got that right, the people correcting your writing may employ an unintentional bias towards how they think you ought to write, rather than how they themselves write.

    If you pay close attention, maybe you can get something out of it. I’m not going to say Lang-8 is all bad. But considering you’re only working with things you already know and aren’t necessarily getting good corrections, you might find that it’s not worth the time you put into it.

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