Language Exchange Online
A Language Exchange program is one of the best ways to study a foreign language. You get to learn directly from a native speaker, hence foregoing the formulaic "Nice to meet you, my name is John, can you tell me the way to the next hotel?" stuff you get in the books. Instead, you're going to learn how to speak in an authentic and natural way, while meeting new people and making friends at the same time. The internet of course seems ideal for such an opportunity. That's why I would like to introduce you to one of the best Language Exchange sites that exist today: Lang-8.
Lang-8 is kind of a "blogging community". In general, the site works like this: You write a blog entry in the language you're learning, and have it corrected by a native speaker. In return, you do the same for someone else who's learning your native language. It's a great system, and the site is designed to make this as easy as possible.
When you sign up, you choose both your native language (and other languages you're proficient at) and the language you're trying to learn from a list. Then, every time you log in, you will see the most recent blog posts written in your native language displayed on the main page. From there you can proceed to read the posts and correct them using the sites build-in correction features. This is very simple: Lang-8 automatically separates the entries into single sentences. All you have to do is click on a sentence that needs correction, then strike out the mistake and write the correct form next to it (of course you can also add comments). If you found the entry to be interesting, you can check out the persons profile and add them as a friend if you want, which will make all their new posts appear on your mainpage by default.
And of course you can just browse the site for fun and add comments to entries without correcting them. The community is huge, so you're bound to find someone that shares your interests.
All this of course also works the other way around. You simply click on "write entry", write an entry about whatever you want and click submit. Soon, the first corrections will start coming in (usually only takes a few minutes, but it depends on the language). You can then also save corrections to your notebook and add tags and comments, so you can always recheck what mistakes you did in the past.
The good thing about this system is that you're constantly meeting new people; you never know who will correct your entry, as it shows up on the mainpages of everyone qualified to correct your mistakes. But don't worry: Many people can correct the same sentence, so you'll always get a lot of feedback and can decide for yourself which one to trust. Conversely, you're always presented with new, random blog posts in your native language on your mainpage, so a new friend may be just one click away!
Lang-8 is a great site. It's well designed, easy to use and above all: It's free. The community is also huge and very helpful, so you'll have no trouble at all finding new friends. Lang-8 is one of the most powerful tools you can use when learning a foreign language. You get incentive to write in a foreign language, get corrected by friendly people who know what they're talking about and get to find friends all over the world. And did I mention it's free?
For more information or if you want to sign up, head on over to Lang-8.com. I'll see you there!
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