Why is a language exchange the BEST way to practice a foreign language?
1. In a language classroom:
- There is very little time to practice actually SPEAKING.
- Most time is spent on instruction.
- There may be too many students to get enough meaningful practice.
- The only native speaker is usually the teacher.
- You don’t get to listen to a variety of native speakers – so may not understand many except the teacher.
- You don’t learn informal expressions or slang.
- You don’t learn much about the culture itself, their humor, or their values.
- You don’t get social and cultural interaction.
2. In a complete immersion environment:
- People don’t usually know how to help you learn.
- They may speak too fast or use slang you just don’t know.
- They might not be patient enough to help you learn.
- They might just switch to your native language if they speak it (English for example).
- People may speak a with a different accent or dialect than what your teacher has used.
- Immersion is scary – you might just get stuck and not be able to speak at all.
3. In a language exchange:
- You can help each other learn (that’s the main goal anyway).
- You can practice conversation exercises.
- It’s more fun than the other two.
- You can help each other stay motivated to learn (arguably THE key to language learning).
- The environment is relatively safe and relaxed.
- Both people generally try to be patient and help the other learn.
- You can learn all the slang and informal expressions you want.
Although the above video is a promotional video for MyLanguageExchange.com, there are plenty more ways and websites to get language exchange partners. Online and offline language exchange partners each have their own set of advantages:
1. Online language exchange partners:
- Can meet virtually any time you’re available.
- Aren’t limited by time, distance, or money.
- You can stay in the comfort of your own home to learn.
- You have the option to collect a long list of partners to chat with at multiple times during the day.
2. Offline language exchange partners:
- Can take you out to experience the culture like a native.
- Can become good friends.
- Don’t require signing up for a membership site.
- Can help you learn very specific local things.
In my opinion, there is only ONE disadvantage to finding a language exchange partner: that I have to teach/use English. Haha, I’d much prefer language exchange be a one-way street – just teach me as much Korean as possible. But, it’s an exchange after all, so it’s got to be two-sided. Don’t go into a language exchange expecting to be the only one to get “fed.” You’re going to have to do your share of “feeding” as well.
If you don’t have one already one, get one!
#28: Find a language exchange partner and record a conversation (in Korean) with them. Also, plan and write down a regular meeting schedule.
Hashtags today are:
Here are a handful of useful sites where you can find language exchange partners. Look for a review of these sites in the upcoming weeks:
- How to learn a language using Skype
- Skype search for Korean
- The Mixxer
- Polyglot Club
- Language Exchange Project
- Try Google+ Hangouts
Here are some tips for Language exchange websites: