Thursday, 21 August 2014

Language Apps/Websites Review: Lang-8

Like I mentioned in my previous post, one of the things I want to blog about this summer would be to review the different language sites and apps that I'm using. Not all of them will be Japanese-focused, but more of a language-based thing in general. Of course, if there are Japanese versions, I will be looking at those two.

So, the first website that I want to talk about is Lang-8. To sum the site up in one sentence, Lang-8 is where you go to practice your writing.

My profile page
Lang-8 can be used to practice any language that you want. You simply indicate what you want to learn, type in that language (it can be any length, you don't have to churn out an essay on your first try!) and wait for a native speaker to correct you and give advice.

And while you're waiting, it's only nice to go look at the entries of people who are practicing your native language and correct their sentences. You can get points for correcting entries too! And you don't have to correct the whole entry, you can choose to mark a sentence "perfect" or just correct certain parts, adding an explanation of why you choose to correct it a certain way if you want to. 

I basically used Lang-8 to help practice my written Japanese while I was in TUFS. Back then, I didn't have many people I could ask to help with my essays and stuff, so this was the ideal resource for me. However, when I entered university and most of my classmates were Japanese, stopped using the site. Instead, I correct my friends English papers, and they help me with my Japanese essays.

Price: Free

Pros:
  • This site is good if you're looking for native speakers to correct your grammar. The community already exists, so you don't have to search for members. (You can also follow users, which means you can create a community-within-a-community.)
  • It's fairly easy to get corrections. I think all my entries have at least one correction, and many of the explanations are thoughtful as well. 
  • You can set whatever language you want to learn, and it's fine if you want to learn more than one language. 
Cons:
  • You're trusting the users to be accurate. If a lot of people are giving differing corrections and explanations, it can be confusing at times. But, that being said, with a voting system in place, it's possible to weed out the bad corrections. 
Bottom Line: I recommend Lang-8 to those who want to practice their writing in Japanese (or whatever language you want to learn), because it is an easy way to find a group of native speakers to help. Think of it as crowd-sourced editing.

I'm not really active there now, but if you are on, please let me know! I might start using the site more often if more friends were on there :D 

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