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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