Nothing can replace speaking your target language with a native speaker. A "language exchange" (sometimes called "tandem") is a great way to practice with a native speaker who is also learning your native language.
During each meeting with your language exchange partner, you take turns speaking both languages. Unlike classes or working with a teacher, the meetings are friendly, informal and (because they are mutually beneficial to you both) absolutely free. ;-)
Don't worry: you don't need to live near native speakers or in the country where the language is spoken!
I recently received this question via the contact form:
I've been studying Polish for about a year now and just took the step of reaching out to a Polish speaker on the Language|Exchange Project. I'm a little nervous about it, but I figured it will only help me get better. I was wondering if you had any advice on how to get the most out of the exchange.
I've been doing language exchanges for several years (with both Polish and Russian) and I've definitely had my share of bad experiences. Through trial and error, I've come up with some ways to make my language exchanges as effective as possible. In this article, I give a few tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls.
Read more for four tips on starting a new language exchange!
Reading books, watching movies and listening to music in your target language is a great way to learn! In fact, that is the basis of the method I used to learn Polish (I read and listened to Harry Potter in Polish).
Besides finding something that is interesting to you (which is an extremely personal decision), the most difficult part is finding something at the appropriate level.
Ideally, you want to find something just above your current level. If it's too easy, there won't be anything to learn. Although, things that are a little below or right at your level will also help a lot!
However, if this is the one of the first books/songs/movies that you have read/watched/listened to, it's going to be hard regardless!
The real question is: Is it TOO hard?
Read more to find out how you can tell!
Thank you everyone for your support!
I started a page on Bibliobird with the official "thank yous" but unfortunately, more than half of the supporters still haven't responded to Karolina's e-mail! You need to respond in order to get your "thank you", postcard or badge on your profile.
This video was a lot of fun to record! The very beginning and ending are in Polish but the rest is in English because this is the language that my wife and I usually interact in.
Please let me know what you think of me without my beard in the comments!
Wow. I can't believe this is actually happening!
Since then it has become successful enough that it takes up all of our free time to maintain it. It's clear that this idea has a lot of promise: many Poles have used it to make breakthroughs with their English!
We realized, however, that if it's going to ever reach it's full potential, we needed to devote more time and resources to it. Except we were already out of those things! Which is why we decided to create and sell some paid texts for Bibliobird to support our work on the project.
If we are successful, we'll be able to achieve our dream of working full-time to help people learn languages!
Three weeks ago, we launched our crowdfunding campaign on PolakPotrafi.pl to presell the first package of paid texts and to build a group of enthusiastic founding members to help us build and test it as well as all of our future products.
The crowdfunding project was an unbelievable success!
We reached our first goal of 10,000 PLN (about $2900) in only two days! As of last night when the project closed, we reached 21,585 PLN (about $6340), 216% of the original goal (which means I'll be shaving off my beard!) with 210 supporters.
Thanks so much for all your support! I never could have imagined that it would go so well.
Today I'm going to tell you what is going to happen next, including: when I'm going to shave my beard, when you'll receive your postcards, when we think the first product will be ready, etc...
Read more to find out!
I'd also like to start sharing the stories of other learners. I get to hear your stories with language learning (usually in private e-mail). And you've already gotten to hear my story told 100 different ways. But you haven't gotten to hear each other's stories yet.
Today, we have a guest post from Ilhan - an aerospace engineering student in Munich, Germany and a reader of this blog - sharing his story and talking about his fear of speaking, what causes it along with strategies, advice and thoughts to help overcome it. Enjoy!
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It was happening again. My hands were shaking. My mouth was dry. I stared at the ground. My shoulders dropped. My head bent in shame. Just five minutes ago I had a great conversation with Francisco, one of my best buddies. The conversation was in Spanish, my “target language” for several years now.
But now my tongue was tied and my mind was cluttered. I couldn’t get a word out in Spanish. Whenever I was spoken to I replied in German. I was ashamed of this fact. What was going on?
Read more to find out!
Two weeks ago, we began the presale of our first paid product on PolakPotrafi.pl. We were able to acheive our original goal of 10.000 PLN (about $2900) in only two days!
Because crowdfunding is not very well known or trusted in Poland - this means we actually broke the record for crowdfunding in Poland. For the time being, we are the fasted project funded to 100%. (Hopefully, some other awesome project will beat us in not too long!)
There's one more week left in our project and (as I said a bit ago) I'm adding a new goal: If we reach 200% or 20.000 PLN (about $5800) by 2012-07-16, I'll shave off my beard. We already have 154%!
The video is in Polish but there are English subtitles (click the "CC" on the bottom right). I recommend it! My wife and I had a lot of fun recording this one.
Here are the links I mention in the film about the record we broke (in Polish):
- Rekordowy projekt - "Język angielski z prawdziwego życia"
- Polacy na zagranicznym portalu i obcokrajowcy na polskim portalu
Read more for the transcript!
It's recently come to my attention that many people feel that I'm sending too many e-mails to subscribers of this blog. Up until now, an e-mail would get sent for every article I write, on the day I write it.
This became particularly apparent during the presale because many people are only interested in language learning advice and cultural information - not Bibliobird, the presale, or other "personal" articles.
(BTW, the presale's going great! I haven't written anything about it recently because I needed to solve this problem first. I'll write something in a few days after people have a chance to update their subscriber options.)
So, I'm adding new subscriber options, which will allow you to:
- Only receive e-mails for articles that have to do with language learning or cultural information.
- Receive only a weekly digest of articles - rather than getting an e-mail for every article I write. I tend to write 1-2 articles a week.
If you are a subscriber of this blog and wish to change your options, click here and enter your e-mail address.
It is not my intention to send spam! If you're a subscriber and you're no longer interested in my blog, you can use this link to unsubscribe. If you have any problems, you can reply to any of the e-mails I've sent you or use the contact form and I'll help you.
Thanks and sorry for the inconvenience!
Thanks everyone for your support! This has been amazing!
In general, I didn't expect the presale on PolakPotrafi would go so well. :-) I also didn't think that the option to become a "founding member" would be so popular!
I ran a survey a couple weeks ago and I came to the conclusion that the package itself, "Real Life in the USA," would be the most popular and would make the most money.
However, it turned out to be the complete opposite! The first 20 places to become a founder were bought up within 5 hours of the official start. :-) When I added more, those were bought up in less than a day. I know that if I add more new, they will also be bought very quickly. And the extra money would certainly help us start out!
Unfortunately, when I added more places last time, a few people in the first group were unhappy, because it was supposed to be an exclusive group. They were first so they got the best deal. In a sense it's unfair that the later people got the same deal. I understand that perfectly.
So, when I again add more opporutunities, the people in the first and second groups must get something special. Like I said a few times in the comments and in an update on PolakPotrafi, I seriously cosidered making the price higher for the new people. But after lots of thinking, I decided that maybe that wasn't the best idea.
I don't want to create bad relations in the future between the people in the first two groups and the people in last. Afterall, the people in the third group would pay more (and in a way support the project more), so why should they have a lower status among the founding members? That would also be unfair.
Of course, there must be some limit! We need to have someone to sell the product to in the future. If everyone had lifetime access to everything, we'd have a problem! ;-)
After the presale we aren't ever going to sell founding memberships again - it wouldn't make sense. We'll have to concentrate on creating and selling the products themselves.
However, I think that even 100 founding members would be OK. Looking at the data, if I don't add any new places, will get to 10.000 PLN ($2900) in a week and in the end only a little higher. But if I add some more opportunities to become a founding member, we have a chance to even get twice that! That's why this decision was so hard but also important.
So, I decided on this solution...
Read more to find out what it is! Or visit our page on PolakPotrafi to become a founding member!
I can't believe our presale is finally happening! Back in January, I decided that I was going to try to turn my hobby of helping people learn languages into my job. And I had to give up a lot to do it.
We have until 2012-07-16 in order to raise enough money to create the product. If we don't, all the money will be refunded and we won't create it.
But if the presale of our first paid product is a success, my wife and I will finally acheive our dream!
We're conducting the presale on a Polish crowdfunding website called PolakPotrafi.pl (click here to see our page there).
I chose this site because it has the best payment options for Poles and allows project descriptions in Polish. This makes sense because the first product is aimed at Polish native speakers learning English and they make up the majority of my readers and fans.
But there are plenty of reasons to get involved in the presale even if you aren't Polish or aren't learning English!
- For 20 PLN (about $6) you can get a postcard from the USA.
- For 100 PLN (about $30) you can get access to an exclusive webinar and Q&A session that I'll do about learning a language on your own. I'll do it twice: once in English and once in Polish.
- For 200 PLN (about $60) you can become a "founding member" of Bibliobird and receive every paid product we ever make in the future! This will include products for learning other languages and for different learner groups. Something for English speakers learning Polish is almost a certainty. ;-) This is limited to 20 people, so if you're interested, buy right away! (Update: this sold out almost immediately but I decided to increase the limit by 20 - I won't increase it again so buy quickly if you want to be a "founding member"!)
- Or maybe you thought my free ebook was useful and just want to give something to thank me!
Click here (in Polish!) to learn more or to help us either financially or by spreading the word! Thanks so much!
If you don't speak Polish, click the "Read more" link to see a video I made to show you how to contribute.
Two weeks ago I told you about our idea for a paid language learning product. There was a survey about the price and format for this product. A few hundred people filled out the form - thanks so much!
Last week I told the results of the survey and asked for ideas for the topic of the product.
Today I'm just going to give you a short note with the topic we decided on and let you know that the presale is going to start on Monday, June 25th! The topic is going to be "Real Life in the USA":
- There will be texts (and films with transcripts!) about many aspects of life in the USA, for example: work, fun and sport, and other daily activities.
- There will be normal articles as well as stories and dialogs!
- Some of the materials will be taken directly from real conversations with native speakers.
- We'll also talk about immigration, stereotypes and music.
Everything will be in English, with native speakers and prepared to be read, watched and listened to on Bibliobird!
I will publish more information on Monday! Thanks in advance for your support!