How To Maximize Your Language Exchange
The solution to practice French easily.
With technology and social networks, it’s very easy to practice a language. You can find a language partner any time on the internet. It’s magic. But because we have this opportunity, we want to get the best from it. I’ll share with you my experience as a language exchange partner and as a professional tutor. I think it can help you to maximize your language exchange!
How to get better results for language exchange
- Introduce yourself. Write a short message introducing yourself. Greet first your potential partner for the language exchange. As a French tutor, I receive a dozen messages asking me to be a language partner. But some don’t even say hello. That’s important when you write to greet and be polite etc. Basic greeting is a language everybody is supposed to know,
- What do you expect? You need to write what you expect from your language exchange partner and what you can offer in exchange. What is your level, what do you want to learn or practice, duration, frequency, etc
- Use target language. Write a bit in the target language if possible, it shows your interest for the language, and that you are not just another curious. Also, some partner you are interested in could not have your fluency in your native language so better to right in the target language (it’s another way to practice!)
- Suggest a plan. Although you don’t have the answer, you can suggest a duration of an eventual exchange session, or days you are available. It will show your motivation and that you are reliable and know how to decide something. Some people are quite passive and wait for you to do that.
- Find a topic. Because breaking the ice and make people talk is my job I never had this problem for language exchange. But I know some students that find hard to find a topic to talk about with their partner. You need to be proactive. Before the lesson, you can find several topics that might interest your partner too. It can be questions about your partner’s country, language, culture, or articles about news or different topics, or talk about a book you are reading. You have to find topics to talk about for you and for your partner. Also, being relaxed and smile will help you to find common interests. And before the exchange or during the process of having a language partner, you can maybe exchange pieces of your life, what you do, pictures of a place you go, etc. There is a big chance that your partner will be interested and will share back. Common experiences create a deeper connection and mutual confidence.
Warnings about language exchange:
- About the level. The level of your partner is very important and depends on your level. Except for beginner, I think it’s good to have someone with a lower level in your native language than you have in the target language because it will allow you to speak more than your partner. Of course, you will have to be patient with your partner.
- Time difference. The hardest part with language partners is the time difference. I’m doing exchanges with partners in Asia and their evening is early afternoon in Paris (and a bigger time difference in winter). You might check twice if there is a language partner in your timezone. It can avoid mental breakdown when planning your exchange sessions. But in case you have troubles, try worldtimebuddy.com. Very useful for handling time zones and very visual.
- How to find regular ones. Because everybody’s life is different and most of us are always busy, partners need to be committed to a regular schedule to have a very efficient language exchange. That’s why you need to take action by suggesting a fixed schedule. You and your language partner are not paid nor paying to do that so sometimes it’s hard to be constant and diligent. If you don’t attend the exchange session you don’t loose money or you don’t earn money. There is no risk to cancel it. That’s the biggest problem. Everybody is tempted to stay 30 minutes more in bed or skip a language exchange session, that’s human. But if you really want to improve and move on, you need to be constant. That’s the point where you might need a professional tutor. I love teaching and some students are so nice that I could teach them for free. Nevertheless, the money counterpart helps them to keep studying. Think about it if you feel that diligence is not once of your strength 🙂
- Language partners are not professionals. There are some teachers like me who know how to deal with teaching, but most language partners are not professional. So you might not expect they know all the subtle nuances of the language and neither how to explain grammar. They are fluent but no professionals. And of course, you need to be aware that you will look the same for your partner. So be honest with yourself and your partner and not too picky 🙂
- About statistics. You must contact more potential partners than you want to have. Some partners never answer or don’t suit you. That’s a waste but you need to find one so be sure to contact enough people before giving up! 10 is a minimum. Also, don’t expect partners to answer right away, it takes sometimes weeks or month for some to answer. I think age, gender is also important. You can contact various profiles it will be more interesting for your personal culture (because they will have different accents, different backgrounds, so you will multiply your target language experience.
It exists tons of websites and apps to find language partners. Because language is an international thing, mind to look for a website in your target language. If you search only in your native language, you’ll find more….natives. But they are good quality websites like Italki, Mylanguageexchange, and apps like HelloTalk or Tandem…You can expect to find new websites every day since this is a trendy market.
I suggest every learner having a language partner, it can also lead to a good friendship!
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