The Social Learning Part
“A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him.” - William James
At the moment, TextFugu is only a little bit social (go say “hi” on the forums if you haven’t yet!). There are, however, some incredible websites that let you practice the language that you’re learning (Japanese?) with native speakers of that language (Japanese again?). The best part, this kind of thing is free and works really really well.
From here on out, TextFugu worksheets will still exist, but there will also now be plenty of opportunities to utilize “social practice” which means you’re going to start creating your own Japanese. Sure, you can regurgitate a bit and translate a bit more, but creating is so important if you want to be able to speak Japanese fluently down the line. I think you’re starting to get to the point where you’ll be able to do this (and it’ll get even more effective as time goes by), so I want to start you early.
You aren’t 100% “off the leash” yet, but we’ll slowly get you there. Here’s what we’ll be using.
One of the crappy things about self-learning Japanese is that you don’t have anyone to correct you. If you’re in a class or have a tutor, then you have someone that can help fix anything that isn’t quite right. That’s why we’re going to use Lang-8 to replace that (and it’s so, so good). Lang-8 is a website that lets you type “journal entries” in the language you’re learning and then get them corrected by native Japanese speakers. How is this service free? Well, there are Japanese people writing in English (and other languages) that need your help as well (so you should give back to that community by fixing their English). You’re going to be writing your own “content” and then submitting it to Lang-8. Then, you’ll see corrections and learn from them. I’ll hold your hand along the way, too, and help you come up with topics to write about based off of what you’ve already learned on TextFugu. It should be a blast, and you’ll learn a ton.
For now, I only want you to do a few things with Lang-8 (you’ll get an “assignment” for Lang-8 on the next page). Basically, I want you to sign up and make “friends” on the site, so that when you submit something, you’ll have people lining up to correct what you’ve written. Do these things to get started, then you can move on to the next section.
- Go an join Lang-8 (sign up for an account)
- Fill out your profile information, especially the “language matches” section. I’d also recommend getting a picture up there, since I think people with pictures probably get more corrections.
- Find the “Language Matches” section. Add as many of those people as friends as your fingers can handle over the next 10-15 minutes. The “accept rate” when you do this is actually pretty high. You are all there to help each other learn, after all.
- Find some journal entries that are in your native language and correct them. This will allow you to see how the interface works, and how corrections will show up for your own stuff. It’s pretty important to understand how this part works as it’ll help you learn from the corrections you get.
- Wait 24 hours or so and you should have a decent number of “friends” willing to help you with your Japanese.
- Consider joining Lang-8’s Premium Program. It’s cheap, it helps support Lang-8, and there’s some neat extra features that will make it easier for you to study your Japanese. It also highlights your journal entries making people more likely to correct them (so you get corrections faster).
After you’ve done those 5 (or maybe 6, if you’re awesome), you can move on to the next section, where you’ll learn how you can turn your corrected journal entries into audio recordings you can practice with. Pretty sweet stuff.
Another cool site out there that can help you learn Japanese via social learning is RhinoSpike. This site lets you submit some Japanese, and then someone will record audio for you so you can practice speaking / listening the things you wrote. So, for this step, you only have to do a couple things (we’ll go over the RhinoSpike stuff more later on).
- Sign up for RhinoSpike
- That’s it!
- Optional: Poke around a bit and see what’s going on over there.
I just want you to have an account so you don’t have to create one later. We won’t be using this as much as Lang-8, but we’ll use it when we can.