(1/3) Dying Lang-8

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Jan 18, 2018 01:02
A few months ago, a friend of mine who was preparing for the TOFEL asked me if there was a good website to improve her English writing skills. I recommended Lang-8 but she found Lang-8 didn’t accept new registrations any more.

She had gotten a 110 out of 120 on the TOFEL. Though the score was already excellent, she still complained that she could never score above 24 in the writing section (the full mark is 30). I asked her to send me her essays to see if I could help. Truth be told, her essays were already very good, but there were still many typical mistakes Chinese students tend to make. I’m sure she would make huge progress if she were able to write entries and get corrections on here.

But, on the other hand, I doubt that her imperfect grammar was the reason why she couldn’t {break?/ score above} 24, because if I were to take the TOFEL and avoid those mistakes, I would probably not achieve higher. Therefore, I consoled her that perhaps grammar or writing like a native isn’t the most important thing on this exam, and logic matters more.

There are a couple of reasons why this website cannot thrive. For many members, Lang-8 is like a blog where you share your opinions and stories, and corrections are accompanying benefits. However, a user has to find interesting topics to post constantly. Not everyone here is a journalist who is sent to the forefront of breaking incidents or is assigned to dig into events for a report. Most users here are just ordinary folks who live mundane lives. If a user posts every day about what he eats or what he wears, even though the correctors aren’t disinterested, he himself will get bored and stop writing and thus leave the account dormant.

You may argue that there is a wide range of topics to write about, such as movie or book reviews and social problems. Then here comes the second point. It requires one to have a much better command of the foreign language to make his writing clear and “interesting.” One has to spend a considerable amount of time and energy studying and practicing to achieve that. If one’s level is not high enough, his writing will still stay pretty superficial and not “interesting” at all. Even if he challenges himself by writing profoundly, he will still end up producing awkward wording which not only deflates himself but also is too confusing for editors to correct.

[I haven't fully extended my viewpoint yet.]
几个月前,我一朋友准备托福考试,问我有什么好的网站可以帮助她提高英文写作能力。我向她推荐了Lang-8,但她发现这个网站已经不接受新的用户申请了。

她托福打了110分,已经是相当高的成绩了,但她仍然抱怨自己的写作总是上不了24分(满分是30分)。我让她发一些文章过来看一下,看能不能帮点忙,实话说,她的作文已经写得很好了,但是还是有很多中国学生犯的典型错误。如果她能在这个网站多加练习,肯定能取得巨大的进步。

但话说回来,她的作文一直上不了24,也许并不是语法不够好,我去参加托福考试,极力避免那些错误,也很可能打不到这个分数。所以,我安慰她,在托福考试中,语法和地道程度并不是最重要的因素,也许写作的逻辑更重要。

Lang-8就像一个博客,用户分享观点和故事,修改只是一个伴随而来的福利。但这也说明,为什么这个网站无法做起来。一方面,如果一个用户要长期发文章,就必须找到一些有趣的话题。并不是每个人都是记者,派往前线报道突发事件,或者是去调查什么内幕。大多数用户只是过着普通生活的普通人,如果一个用户天天只能描述自己吃了什么,穿了什么,即便其他人不厌倦,这个用户自己都会觉得很烦,所以一来二去,就会停止写作,账号从此处于休眠状态。

你也许会说,生活中不缺少有趣的话题啊,比如评论一部电影、一本书、以及社会问题。这就牵扯到了第二点,要把这些话题写好,就需要比较高的外语水平。这就要求用户花大量的时间学习和练习。如果一个用户的水平欠火候,即便写那些话题,也仍然停留在很肤浅的描述水平,不够有趣,即便用户想挑战自我,写得很深入,由于水平不够,写出来的东西还是很奇怪难懂,不仅自己泄气,别人也难以修改。