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How to find a language exchange partner

28 Aug 2012

Two weeks ago I gave some tips for starting a language exchange.

Language exchange is where you communicate (either in person or over the internet) with a native speaker of the language you are learning, who is also learning your native language.

In the comments, someone wrote (translated from Polish):

It's easy to look for more language exchange partners if your native language is English. After all, the whole world is learning that language. What to do if no one wants to learn Polish (ed: this commenter's native language is Polish). I don't think I'd find even one Swede who wanted to learn Polish.

I've heard this opinion expressed many times before - basically every time I bring up language exchange.

I agree it's harder if your native language is less popular. But it's definitely still possible to find someone online!

Read more for three tips on how to find a language exchange partner online!

How to start a language exchange on the right foot

14 Aug 2012
Two hamsters sharing a carrot
Language exchange is about sharing! Photo by ryancr

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!

As I've written before, you can do a language exchange both in person or over the internet.

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.

Great question!

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!

How to practice speaking over the internet

9 Nov 2011
Two women talking
The art of conversation. Photo by Duncan Harris.

Nothing can replace practicing your language with a native speaker. But what if no native speakers live in your city? Not everyone has the means to travel to another country.

But that doesn't mean you can't practice speaking!

I've written about language exchange in the past.

This is where you meet with someone who's native language is the language you are learning and your native language is the language they are learning. For the first half of the meeting you talk in one language and for the second half you talk in the other.

And the best part is that this is something you can do entirely over the internet, using voice chat software like Skype!

Read more to learn how!

Immersion tips: How to meet natives

22 Feb 2011
Woman diving underwater
Dive into the culture! Photo by Elena Lagaria

We've all heard stories about someone going to a foreign country for a year and coming back able to speak the language "fluently." (I don't like that word, read this article to find out why.)

But immersion in a foreign country doesn't mean you'll automatically learn the language!

I've heard many more complaints from people living abroad who, despite being surrounded by the language everyday, don't seem to learn it. One problem is that they end up speaking their native language most of the time, rather than meeting new people and engaging them in real conversation in the language they are learning.

So, how can you meet new people in a foreign country and get the most out of your immersion experience? Read more for tips!