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winterpromise31

Writing practice - how best to utilize lang-8?

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winterpromise31

My main focus for learning Chinese is reading and writing. I want to be able to read Facebook, books, websites, etc. and I want to be able to exchange messages with others, comment on FB posts, and write journal entries in Chinese. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to start practicing my writing by posting on Lang-8. I have written a few posts there and have gotten some great corrections. But how do you best utilize the corrections? A sentence deck on Anki with the corrected sentences? Try to write another entry with the same grammar point that was corrected? Just keep writing and eventually things will sink in? I haven't posted consistently enough to get results other than gaining some confidence to just try (I did make an embarrassing mistake this week with a typo... oops). Basically, how do you make the corrections *stick*?

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abcdefg

Are they still in business? I haven't used them since the first of this year. 

 

What I did for a long time, and what I would still do if I were to resume using the site tomorrow, is to take the corrections and use them to revise my original post to make it more fluent and native. Then post that again. See if it flies better then. 

 

The problem with Lang-8 is that it attracts lots of casual, shoot-from-the-hip cowboy corrections, some of which come from people who don't take the time to read what you wrote with care and who don't really know much themselves. The notion that "I am Chinese, so I am an expert in the Chinese language" gets in the way sometimes when you move beyond elementary stuff. 

 

Also, some native speakers feel compelled to over-correct, to change your original post without it being necessary for clarity or coherence. The best results I've had from Lang-8 have been when I could establish an ongoing relationship with two or three "friends" there. I would fix up their stuff and they would fix up mine. We learned each other's strengths and weaknesses.  

 

The "drive-by" speed jockeys making corrections for you on their mobile phones while waiting at a stop light on their motorbike, are often not worth much. You have to be able to disregard some of the things you are told. It isn't all gospel. 

 

If you ever wonder about their value, take a look at the corrections being made in your own native language by some of your peers. Many are utter nonsense. Some are "the blind, leading the blind."  

 

 Lang-8 can be helpful, but it is not a magic bullet. I probably should start using it again. Better than nothing. 

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, winterpromise31 said:

Basically, how do you make the corrections *stick*?

 

By making them over and over. It's a matter of large ("massive") input and large ("massive") output leading to the formation of good habits. I don't  build Anki decks for them and such. I think of Lang-8 as light-weight auxiliary practice, something on the margins of my main learning efforts. 

 

(Your situation may be different from mine: It sounds like your goals are different from mine.)

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winterpromise31

They are still around, surprisingly. I don't think the site is as active as it used to be. But I've been getting corrections on every one of my posts over the past week. 

 

Good point about the drive by corrections... I have noticed some discrepancy in the quality of English corrections so it makes sense that would happen in Chinese as well. I will try rewriting the posts with corrections and see what happens. And I guess I'll just keep posting, keep getting corrected, and try to pay attention to the mistakes I'm making and how they can be improved.  

Thanks for the advice!

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abcdefg

You're welcome. I run hot and cold on Lang-8. For a while I love it, then I hate it. I bought a premium membership early last year, which lets me post an occasional photo and send an automatic notice of new posts to certain members whose corrections I value more than some others. If you are using the service a lot, perhaps look into a paid membership. 

 

Others here may have had different experience. I haven't done a search for old threads, but would be surprised if there aren't any. You might turn up something useful from previous years. The idea behind it is sound. 

 

Every time I restart using Lang-8, I get dozens of replies from people who are mainly just wanting to chat and make friends. That's both a plus and a minus. Not really what I'm after. 

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大块头
11 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Are they still in business? I haven't used them since the first of this year. 

 

 

As of February 2017, they have stopped allowing new users to join the site (blog post). If you click the button to create a new account, you see an ad trying to get you to sign up for the app they're developing called HiNative.

 

It certainly is unfortunate that the creators of Lang-8 are allowing such an excellent resource to stagnate, but there are other options available if you want feedback on your Chinese writing. The best I've found so far is an app called HelloTalk, which is sort of a WeChat knock-off for language learners.

 

Is the app clunky? Yes. Does it occasionally gobble up a third of my phone battery if I don't force stop it? Yes. But HelloTalk has one distinct advantage, and that is the sheer volume of Chinese speakers using it. Without fail, each of my posts gets dozens of comments and corrections. Admittedly, many of the corrections are of the "casual, shoot-from-the-hip cowboy" variety, but a few people will always spend a lot of time carefully revising your post.

 

Even the cowboy corrections are useful in a way. Because of their large number, you can get a statistical impression of how the majority of Chinese people would phrase what you're trying to say.

 

lang-8.png

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大块头
13 hours ago, winterpromise31 said:

But how do you best utilize the corrections? 

 

I haven't found the perfect system yet, but I do have a tip.

 

Pleco allows you to create user dictionaries. When I learn something new about how to use a Chinese word or phrase, I often add those notes to a user dictionary. That way, when I look up that word or phrase to use it again, I see my notes and I won't make the same mistakes I did last time.

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winterpromise31

I did a quick search for other posts on lang-8 but didn't really see advice about how to retain the corrections. For now I'll just keep posting there and learning from others. I did message someone on a Facebook language exchange group and we've set up an arrangement to exchange emails. She seems more invested so hopefully the corrections will be more useful. 

 

It really is a bummer about the website. I have noticed less corrections than I used to get but not sure which other resource to use at this point (free). I'm looking into HelloTalk for the phone (thanks, 大块头) but would really prefer a website so I can use my computer. I'll just keep plugging along!

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StChris

I used to be a fan of italki, but hey have pretty much closed down their PC-based service, as now you can't post essays on the regular website, you can only do it on the app. As I really don't fancy writing essays on my phone, that's it for me. Luckily, I did set up a lan-8 account years ago before the ban on new accounts, so I could give that a try, but the systems doesn't seem that good for longer pieces of writing. I may just try to just find an old fashioned language partner to swap essays with instead.

 

Why so so many services try to force you onto their mobile apps nowadays anyway? Using a computer is often much more efficient for the user. Maybe I'm just getting old.

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thelearninglearner
2 hours ago, StChris said:

Why so so many services try to force you onto their mobile apps nowadays anyway? Using a computer is often much more efficient for the user. Maybe I'm just getting old.

More people have phones than computers now, probably. And I imagine it's easier to get people to pay for stuff on mobile. Usually, click a few buttons instead of having to find your wallet and get the credit card out 

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大块头

I've been using HiNative for a few months now instead of HelloTalk, and I like it more. In addition to the mobile apps they have a desktop website for posting and answering questions. The volume of Chinese-speakers using it is a bit lower I think, but the quality of the answers has been consistently high.

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