“Practice makes perfect”.
We’ve all heard our language teacher repeat this sentence — over and over — each year.
You remember these countless hours you spent at school learning a language. All these times you fell asleep trying to understand that old grammar book or listening to this stereotyped tape about this robot-like lady asking for directions in the streets of Berlin.
You also remember the teacher yelling at you and asking you to repeat the guidelines for the next exercise. Suddenly you realize you haven’t learned a lot today. Same applies for yesterday, and the day before… Oops!
You’re so eager to get fluent, grab on the subtleties of the language, hear different accents, know more about the culture. But you keep making the same mistakes, you still don’t understand why you should use ‘who’ instead of ’which’, and the words going out of your mouth still sound like a bizarre distortion of your native language.
Keeping language learning inside the classroom has definitely not helped you.
How about getting some help to find buddies to practise with?
*So, wherrre is ze people I can talllking to?
1) Get Involved in Exchange Student Organizations
If you’re still studying, you might be interested in getting involved in exchange students activities organized around your campus.
A very famous one, now present in 40 countries all over Europe, is ESN (understand Exchange Student Network).
Helping foreign incoming students integrate in your university is a great way to get to know new people from all over the world, and who, by the way, speak many different languages. It is also an incredible opportunity for you to make friends to hang out, have fun, and practice your language skills with naturally.
Try to find an ESN section in your area.
Check out the ESN blog article on Join a Committee — gain competence, knowledge, and a family and the ESN volunteering page for more details.
Get your Erasmus Encore | Join the Erasmus Student Network
You can also reach out to them very easily on Facebook as all sections have a Facebook page to keep you updated on all events and initiatives they organize (including helping students find a language buddy).
ESN Salamanca Erasmus 2016 / 2017 Facebook Group
2) Attend Conversation Tables
Search the keywords “Conversation Table” (in your native or target language) + the language you want to practise, and you’ll come up with various results according to your location.
Certain cafés welcome conversation tables on a regular basis, try to spot those who do in your area!
Also try to look for them on Facebook. There are many opportunities!
3) Ride a Tandem!
If I say tandem, you probably think of this weird bicycle made for two people to move forward together. However, when applied to language learning, the word “tandem” is a metaphor: let’s say you find someone who speaks the language you want to learn, and you speak the language he/she wants to learn. You can both benefit from each other’s knowledge and skills, and make progress together. That’s tandem language exchange!
You can easily find a tandem partner on Facebook.
Here’s how you should proceed:
- Find a Facebook group or a Facebook page using the keywords “tandem” + your city (some gather quite large communities)
- Post a friendly message like this one (see exemple below)
- Wait for someone to contact you
- Meet your new language partner, and practise!
Here are a few solutions we’ve come up with for you to maximize your opportunities to practise your language skills and improve!
Over to you
Any other tips to find language partners easily? Please let us know in the discussion!