Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Talking Like a 5-Year Old on Lang-8



Aug 16th 2010 23:01


As I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to improve my Japanese. It's a bit silly that it took me exactly 1 year to realize this but hey, at least I'm trying! Along with listening to more JapanesePod101.com podcasts (shameless plug...) I recently joined a social networking site called Lang-8.com. I had heard about this site from other blogs and decided to finally give it a shot. It was started by a student at Kyoto University as a way for peers to help each other with their foreign language studies. You write journal entries in the language you're studying and then native speakers of that language that are also using the site correct your sentences. In return, you can correct other peoples' entries in your native language. There are people on there writing in all kinds of languages, but I think Japanese-English are the most popular. 
I've been using it for about a week now and it's pretty cool actually. The website is a little clunky but aside from that, it's a really great idea. You get to put what you know to use and you end up learning a lot of vocabulary words along the way. The corrections usually come within 5 or 10 minutes of writing so the process is pretty quick. As an added bonus, people are really friendly and they write comments about what you wrote and tell you how great you are. No really! It's quite a confidence booster. 
I have to warn you though, it can be addicting. Not so much the writing part, but the correcting! For all you grammar snots out there, this is the site for you. It's just so tempting to go through and correct non-native English. For the most part, you can understand the gist of what they're trying to say and it makes you feel really helpful to give your 2-cents. Here's a part of a post of one of my "friends" : 
Many beer gardens open in summer. Most of them are held on the roofs of department buildings. I don’t know an origin of “beer garden.” However I know these roofs have no garden.

A lot of English words are used as Japanese, but there are many Japanese English which we can’t make sense of what it means. “Beer garden(ビアガーデン)” which is held on a roof of building is such a Japanese English.
This was a particularly satisfying post to correct as I could impart my German language knowledge on him. JA WOHL! I really enjoy reading Japanese peoples' posts a lot. Since I have so few friends to actually talk to, this is a nice way to break down a tiny piece of the wall between me and Japan. So far I've read about a woman who has just ended a friendship and is pretty bummed over it, a guy who went to his high school reunion and everyone said he looked fat and another guy that I thought was gay because he kept talking about his partner but he just means his girlfriend. 
I realize that this service is building up a false confidence in me because despite all the positive feedback, my Japanese is actually not that great. Those characters look really cool and everything, but it's basically 10 different childlike sentences like "It's hot." "I like to cook." "I'm an American." strung together in a somewhat coherent manner. Whatever, like I said, at least I'm trying.
By the way, the post above basically says this: 
It's really hot. I don't want to use the stove. So, I made Vietnamese food. These are spring rolls. Inside, there's shrimp, pork, various vegetables and noodles. Delicious! I'm an American. But my parents came from Vietnam. They went to a German university. Afterwards, they went to California. I don't speak Vietnamese. It's too bad. I'm not good at foreign languages. My mom is really good at foreign languages. She can speak French, Vietnamese, English and German. Awesome! I really love my parents. I want to study Vietnamese. But right now, I have to study Japanese. I don't have time. 

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