Language Exchange Done Right?

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Happy New Year! I’m slow to post again. Sorry! I have an important project that I have to finish, so I can’t spend enough time here. Anyway, I hope you had a good new year and will have a good 2009.

Today let me tell you a little about Lang-8. It’s a language exchange website. Usually I don’t link to these websites. Users often get bored or frustrated, because they can’t explain grammar problems, etc. (Yes, a native speaker can tell you “This is wrong.” However, it takes a language teacher to explain why something is wrong.) Or people just write short notes to each other. That’s pretty useful, but any language exchange site is fine for that.

Anyway, Lang-8 is a little different. It focuses on writing correction. You write a short journal entry in English. Native/fluent English speakers use Lang-8 sections to make corrections to your entry. You can see their corrections highlighted in red, marked out, etc. It’s easy to see the changes. (And you can help other people who are learning Korean, Japanese, German, etc.)

Of course, there’s still a problem. If you ask the commenter “Why did you change that?” he or she probably can’t explain very well. As a result, it’s hard for you to understand why you should write differently next time.

So I have a suggestion: If you use Lang-8, use it to practice specific grammar points and sentence patterns. Pick something where you basically understand the rules and write just a couple of sentences practicing that grammar point. Make several journal entries over several days working on that grammar point. Use Lang-8 to “check your homework” (except that the “homework” is your self-study). I think this will help make Lang-8 more useful to you.

Actually, I’m going to try this myself with Japanese! Wish me luck…