Lang-8 is a bit different from most language learning communities. In this one, you have your own journal and it is via this journal that you practise your language. You write posts about whatever you wish, and native speakers will correct you. You have a notebook into which you can bookmark corrections that you found specifically helpful. You can, as usual, search for people that match you linguistically, and language "partners" will also be suggested by the site itself. The people that are your friends will always see when you have written something new, so corrections often arrive fast. All comments need not be corrections though, you can simply add friendly comments to posts that interest you as well, and this may give a feeling of actually "using" the language, not only doing a "task".
Lang-8 also has groups that basically function like the journals.
Lang-8 is quite dominated by Asian languages and English, but you can definitely use it for French and some other European languages.
Using lang-8 effectively Edit
When you're writing, a few tips:
- Try very hard to write as correctly as you can, and proofread carefully. If you're sloppy, the best proofreaders will skip your essays. Pay attention to punction, too, and learn the rules for your target language.
- When in doubt about how to express something idiomatically, try a search on Linguee or a similar site for your target language. This will show you how professional translators handle a specific phrase.
- At least at first, consider writing short passages every day or so, and whenever possible, thank your correctors and ask questions in your target language. If you can't think of anything to write, write about stuff that's happening in your life, or subjects that you've been thinking about recently. If you do this, your writing will help improve your speaking.
- As your writing gets more advanced, it will be harder to find good correctors, because your mistakes tend to be subtle, and 90% of your corrections will say things like, "That sounds a little off." To help encourage your correctors, keep your passages short and try to mix in interesting subjects.
The real trick of Lang-8 is making friends with good proofreaders (and actually getting on their "Friends" list). To do this:
- Figure out who gives good corrections by reading the list of new entries in your target language, and by paying attention to who corrects your work.
- Correct their journals as carefully as you can. Mark outright errors in red, suggest improvements in blue, and explain your corrections as best as you can. This will make you very popular.
- Make sure you officially become "friends" with the good correctors, so that they see your entries at the top of their page.
Lang-8 does not accept new users anymore, but there's a new project around the same idea called langcorrect.