I’ve actually been a member of Lang-8 for a couple years now. But I always end up only writing one entry, and then forgetting about it Σ(｡>艸<｡) Which is a shame, because I do think it can be quite a useful study tool.
Lang-8 is a website where people learning a second (or maybe third, fourth…) language, can practice writing in that foreign language, and then have native speakers correct them. When you set up your account, you specify your native language and the language you are learning. Then, you can start writing entries. Of course this can be about absolutely anything, and you can write however much or little you want.
If no correction is needed, your sentence can be marked as “perfect”. When you do get corrected however (ﾟOﾟ)＼(- -; , readers can cross out words, add words and highlight things in red (just like your teacher would do!). They can also add comments underneath their corrections explaining why they corrected it that way. At the end of your entry, readers then have the possibility to add comments, which you can reply to.
As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward. The important thing to remember is that Lang-8 is a language exchange website, so you should also help other people by correcting their entries. In fact Lang-8 have created a feature they call “L points” and a ranking system.
This basically means, the more entries you correct, the more L points you receive, and your ranking goes up. A higher ranking means that your journal entry will be higher up on the website, and therefore has a higher chance of being seen and corrected.
Another feature of Lang-8 is adding friends. This is another sure way of getting your entries seen, and receiving more corrections. Friends on Lang-8 will automatically see your entries first on their home page.
I think Lang-8 is a great study tool for intermediate to slightly more advanced learners. It is a self-learning tool however, which means you’ll have to put in a lot of your own work to look through and understand the corrections being made if you really want to improve. Moreover, it’s important to remember that although those correcting you are native speakers, they are not teachers. So they may not always be able to explain things very well. And, you will more than likely receive more than one correction made for a single entry. This is not because a previous member’s corrections were wrong, but because there are alternatives to expressing the same thing (such is the beauty of language). This can be good, in the sense that it helps you widen your vocabulary, grammar and language ability. However, sometimes you might feel like you have way too much choice (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
Some members will sometimes have their Skype ID, Line ID and so forth if you want to connect with them outside of Lang-8. Therefore, if you wanted to take your language exchange one step further, this is also a possibility. If you do this, do be careful who you add though 😉 (the internet can sometimes be a scary world after all).
Lang-8 only allows you to practice your writing skills, but there are other websites, such as Fluent U, where you can practice other areas of Japanese.
Have you ever used Lang-8 or a similar type of website? What did you think? And what’s the best way to get the most of it?