W ith the current enthusiasm for online networking sites reaching a fever pitch with people flocking to MySpace and, recently, Facebook by the millions — not to mention mixi, which has 8 million users in Japan — it was only a matter of time before there would emerge a Web site devoted to foreign language education and exchange that relied on a similar format.

One such site, Lang-8 (www.lang-8.com), aims to bring together people of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds in an effort to enhance foreign-language study. The site's founder, Yang Yang Xi, graduated from Kyoto University this spring with a degree in computer science and has been working on the Web site since.

Chinese by birth, Yang Yang grew up in Japan, and his fluency in both Chinese and Japanese spurned him to use his talents in programming to construct Lang-8. The format, similar to mixi, allows people to write daily diaries on whatever topics they choose and in any language they want. These diaries are then edited by their friends on Lang-8, who are native in the particular language in which the diary is written. For example, Miyuki composes a diary in English, the language she is studying. This diary is then edited by her friend James, a native speaker. James, on the other hand, is studying Chinese and has a Chinese friend correcting his mistakes, and so on.