Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Get your foreign-language audio recordings corrected online for free

I've already given you the low-down on how to get your foreign-language writings corrected online for free. Now I'd like to turn to how to get your audio recordings corrected for free.

Unfortunately, your options here are still pretty limited. As far as I can tell, there are only two places where you can submit recordings and get them corrected by native speakers, neither of which are close to making the feature ideal: Livemocha and Lang-8.

Lang-8
  • Overview. Lang-8, based in Tokyo, is a two-person project by Yangyang Xi, CEO, and Kazuki Matsumoto, CTO, that focuses letting language learners get their texts corrected. However, with this little tip, which Lang-8 supports by making adding audio easy, you can get your audio recordings corrected as well.

  • Content. Lang-8 is set up as a journal or a blog, but you're free to post whatever you feel like posting.

  • Making corrections. Correctors can leave comments for you, explaining what you did wrong. There's no feature for them to record a message for you directly. Although they could leave a recording in the comments in the same way it can be posted in the entry's body, no one has done so yet for me.

  • Speed of corrections. Just as with text, the corrections come very rapidly. Waiting a day for corrections would be a long time to wait.

  • Correction presentation. It is up to individual correctors to apply formats: bold, strike-thru, red, and blue text. Your results will vary.

  • Languages. You can post in any language you want, and native speakers of all major languages are well represented on the site. I'd wager that it'd take longer to get corrections for less frequently studied languages, but I've not tested that hypothesis.

  • Interface. Lang-8's interface is alright; it's nothing to rave about, but it gets the job done.

  • Bottom line. I love that I can record whatever I feel like recording to Lang-8, but I don't like it takes a bunch of steps to post audio recordings and that there's no easy way to post audio recordings in the comments.
Livemocha
  • Overview. Livemocha's main product is it's Rosetta Stone-like language-learning courses, but the coolest thing it does is connect you with tons of native speakers, including through corrections of your audio recordings (see my complete review of Livemocha here).

  • Content. For audio recordings, you're supposed to read outloud a text related to your lesson; there's no discretion involved in what you're supposed to record. Learners can and sometimes do add their own audio at the beginning or the end of the recordings, but they generally follow the script. Of course, you don't have to follow the script and you can surely find flexible human users who'll correct your audio recording for you regardless of what it contains.

  • Making corrections. Correctors can easily record their own recordings in reply to your audio recording, which is the major benefit of submitting audio recordings for correction on Livemocha. Correctors also get a comment field in which they can make comments and variously format the comment text.

  • Speed of corrections. Livemocha has a very large user base, so corrections come back very quickly, certainly comparable with Lang-8.

  • Correction presentation. If there's an audio recording attached to a comment, it's readily available for you at the click of a button. Like Lang-8, it is up to individual correctors to format their textual comments. Again, your results will vary.

  • Languages. Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu.

  • Interface. As far as getting audio recordings corrected goes, I've got no major complaints. The interface allows you to get the job done.

  • Bottom line. While I love that correctors can easily supply their own recordings in response to yours, I don't like that you're nominally limited to Livemocha's specified scripts.
Despite the inability of my correctors to easily supply audio recordings in their comments, I've tended to use Lang-8 more for getting my audio recordings corrected, largely due to its content flexibility. Nevertheless, there is a lot of room for improvement—whether on one of these sites or on the site of a new provider of this feature.

1 comment:

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