What is Language Exchange all About?
Language exchange usually refers to two people who get together on a regular basis to learn each other’s native language. In other words, you need to find someone who speaks the language you’re learning, and who wants to learn the language you speak.
Sounds easy, right?
In this post you’re going to find out about the real benefits of language exchange in your language-learning journey. So let’s start!
The Truth About Learning a Language in the Classroom
Language classes are good and useful, but very little time is dedicated to practice.
I bet you’re reading this post because you want to become fluent, and you probably realized your language course alone doesn’t do the job. Maybe some of you never were confronted to a native speaker in the classroom — apart from your teacher, if you were lucky.
I’m also quite sure you’re interested in the culture, the way people interact with each other, their different accents, their sense of humor, etc. Learning a language is also about people and their characteristics, not just grammar and vocabulary.
Never being confronted to a native must explain the look on your face when one of them starts talking to you and you don’t get a thing.
Informal speech and slang actually make up a good portion of spoken language. Strangely enough, they’re not always taught in the classroom. But you need to know them if you want to sound natural.
How about spending some time abroad then?
Maybe you think leaving your country to experience complete linguistic immersion could help, but you might be unprepared for this.
I mean, it can be scary!
Let’s say you’ve been learning French at school. Let’s say you were lucky because your teacher was a native and came from Paris, so you got to hear a very standard variety of French.
Now, you decide to go to Montreal, Quebec, and suddenly realize the accent is very different from the one you’re used to. You need to buy a train ticket, but the lady at the office speaks too fast and doesn’t seem to be willing to make any effort for you to understand.
First scenario: Suddenly she switches to English, without giving you a chance to practice.
Second scenario: She doesn’t speak your language, she still doesn’t want to make an effort, you still don’t get what she says, you’re stuck in Montreal.
I’m not saying going abroad is a bad idea, but maybe it’s not the easiest thing to implement if…
- you need to finish your studies
- you’re working already
- you don’t have time
- you don’t have the money
- you have many other reasons not to do it that I haven’t mentioned
And still, you need some practice.
Why Language Exchange Can Really Help You
Practice is the only way to achieve fluency in a language. There’s just no secret.
If you’ve been studying a language for quite a time now, only to realize you couldn’t have a conversation with anyone, now is the time to do something about it.
Language exchange gives you the opportunity to practice much more than in your classroom. Being in a more relaxed environment, without any pressure, will definitely boost your confidence and help you overcome the fear to make mistakes (which is absolutely normal when you’re learning a language).
Your language partner knows exactly what it is like to be in your shoes, and will most likely be patient, understanding, and helpful 🙂
Language Exchange: Several Forms
Reading books, articles, listening to songs, podcasts and watching movies are very effective to improve your receptive skills. I do recommend you keep on doing this to train your reading and listening skills.
But what about productive skills?
Communication goes both ways – that’s why you need to practice speaking and writing as well. Your language partner can help you with both. For example, ask him to correct your pronunciation or to help you with your written homework.
Language exchange definitely is the perfect compromise if you want to get some practice before you communicate in the real world.
It is also very easy to implement — especially these days.
And one of its best advantages…
Wait for it… It’s FREE!
So why wait?
If you still have excuses not to do it, like…
- I can’t make myself available on a regular schedule
- I just don’t have time at all
- I live in the middle of nowhere
- I’m too shy
- etc, etc, etc.
…let me tell you they do NOT apply to the solution I want to share with you! So there it is.
Get the Advantages of Language Exchange Without the Constraints
Welcome to the modern Internet and mobile apps era!
We understand you probably have a busy life, and therefore a very tight schedule. This is obviously not the optimal situation to get organized and meet your language partner on a regular basis for at least an hour… Twice a week… Only on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6 to 7 p.m.
Here’s some good news though — Modern also means flexible!
In 2017, you’re not the one who needs to be super flexible to get an opportunity to practice a language.
Rather, language exchange was made flexible for you.
Isn’t it exciting?
If you would like to meet people from all around the world and practice with them, here’s how Speaky can make your life easier. This language exchange tool is available on a website and on your smartphone (Android and iOS). This comes in really handy when you just have a few minutes to practice while you’re on the train, on the underground, sitting in your doctor’s waiting room, etc.
You can use it anywhere, anytime!
The process is easy, just have a look at the following screenshots to get a glimpse of how it works.
Speaky is very useful as it includes many tools:
- a chat with a correction feature
- voice notes to help you with pronunciation
- voice and videocalls if you want to have a live conversation, no matter the distance between your language partner and you! (coming soon)
However, if you’d also like to meet someone real life, you can check our best tips to someone near you in the following article:
Language exchange definitely is one of your best opportunities to make friends worldwide, discover their culture, and open-up your mind.
Over to you
What do you think of our tips?
We’d be happy to hear what your recommendations on the topic would be!