Finding the Right Language Exchange Partner

A language exchange can be a very rewarding experience with many benefits, such as improving your speaking and listening skills in a foreign language, exploring a new culture, and building a friendship. I have done three language exchanges with native Japanese speakers and was able to not only practices speaking and listening in Japanese, but also got a better sense of the culture, popular culture and slang.

I strongly recommend a language exchange for any person learning a foreign language. A language exchange partner can be a pen pal, someone you text or instant message, or someone who you meet up with occasionally to practice one-on-one communication.

Finding a language partner can be difficult, because a language exchange works best with someone who is learning your native language is also a native speaker of the language you are learning. You take turns communicating in either language, teaching and helping each other along the way. It is also important to find a reliable language exchange partner with whom you can truly have a mutually beneficial learning experience.

What qualities should the right partner have?

The right language exchange partner should be as serious as learning your language as you are in learning theirs. You'll want to find someone who is reliable, respectful, and open to learning and teaching with you. Here are a few tips for finding the right language exchange partner.

Join a Language Exchange Community

I was fortunate enough to meet my language exchange partners through mutual friends. If you're a college student, you can visit your school's foreign language department and inquire about any language exchange programs. If you're not in school, the internet is a valuable resource for meeting language exchange partners. Facebook has a language exchange community that its users can subscribe to.

My Language Exchange has been around since 2000 and allows you to search for language exchange partners by country and offers text and voice chat, games and lesson plans.

LingoFriends offers a Mentor Program that includes online language lessons in addition to interacting with language exchange partners.

xLingo Language Exchange is a free community that also allows you to create flashcards and blogs, as well as participate in forum discussions.

Rosetta Stone Shared Talk offers voice and text chatting. Rosetta Stone is a well-known language-learning software company.

Find Someone with Mutual Interests

Yes, you are trying to improve upon your language skills, but you and your language exchange partner still need something to talk about. My first language partner and I shared an affinity for fashion and discussed it at length, while another language partner was willing to teach me some break-dancing moves, giving me a full, well-rounded learning experience. Finding a language partner is only half the battle; you should want to have conversations in more than one language with him or her.

Be Courteous and Consistent

I met two of my language exchange partners after my first partner recommended me. This can also work for you if you are courteous and consistent with your partner. Although this person may become your friend, you want to initially approach your interactions with professionalism.

Sometimes regularly meeting with someone in person or over the internet can be difficult to maintain if you have a busy schedule. If this happens, it's important to let your partner know the circumstances, because politeness and professionalism will go a long way. I would also recommend staying in touch with them by sending them messages or e-mails every once in a while. You may be able to pick up on the regular language exchange again in the future, or who knows? Maybe you'll travel to your partner's country some day and might need a place to stay!

Remember to keep an open mind when interacting with your language partner. There will be cultural differences as well as some things you'll find difficult to explain in either language. It is best to approach the experience as one that will not only teach you, but give you an opportunity to teach another person about your language, your culture and yourself.

Donna Reish, a freelancer who blogs about best universities, contributed this guest post. She loves to write education, career, frugal living, finance, health, parenting relating articles. She can be reached via email at:
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