Rapidly growing in popularity is the ‘Language Exchange’ concept – a simple way to learn a new language, and offer your own first language skills back in return.
Some use it to learn a language from scratch, some benefit from the exchange as a ‘refresh’ on language skills that are a little rusty. Not only does an exchange offer the chance to learn a new language, but an opportunity to broaden social, cultural and professional horizons.
Here are a few things to consider if you’re planning to make a journey into the world of foreign linguistics with a language exchange buddy!
Is a language exchange right for me?
Probably, yes. There is little reason it wouldn’t be – unless, of course, you are unable to commit the time and focus to the partnership. A language exchange can be a very rewarding process, so if you fancy enjoying the following benefits then give it a try:
1. You want to speak a language correctly, fluidly, and authentically.
Since the concept of the language exchange is built around good old-fashioned conversation, and there are no books involved (other than the odd dictionary), you’ll be chatting away in no time.
2. You want to focus on the verbal conversation element of a new language and don’t want to get too hung up on grammatical accuracy.
Learning a language from a native speaker brings with it all sorts of wonderful insights into a foreign vocabulary, and also a culture! Since language exchanges tend to involve a lot more practice than conventional classroom/tutor methods, you pick up the ‘real-deal’ conversational ability in no time. Real-time conversations with native speakers will expose you to idioms and colloquialisms you’d never find in a text book.
3. You want to go beyond the language and explore the culture too.
A continuation of the last point, a language exchange gives you the chance to decide exactly what to talk about. Whether it’s how to bake a cake, what the stock exchange is up to, how to grow sunflowers or simply what your plans for the future are. You are in control of the vocabulary and this really opens up a world of exploring the culture, foreign affairs and local goings-on of your chosen language destination.
4. You don’t really fancy suffering from embarrassment when picked out in class and asked to read foreign text or respond in an unfamiliar language.
Luckily, the olden days of musty classrooms are behind you. With a language exchange, you’re both learning and trying something new together which does wonders for your confidence!
5. You want to learn a language at your own pace.
If you partner with another learner who wants to move at the same pace as you and agree to be patient with each other, you’ll be learning on your own terms.
6. You’re learning a language on your own and need someone to hold you accountable.
It’s important to note that a language exchange is a form of self-study; it requires willpower, dedication, and an understanding that if you start to tail off on the commitment side, you will be letting your partner down too (which is even more incentive and reason to give it everything and be successful!).
7. You’re dedicated to language learning, but you’re on a budget.
There is usually no, or very little, cost associated with participating in a language exchange and there are many websites and online networks encouraging new members to join. Skype, instant messaging, and text chat tend to be the most commonly used platforms, which most often come free of charge.
So go on, dive into a new world of social, fun and informal learning!
About the author: Nicholas Moores is a professional technology writer for Lingos Free language exchange website. Visit their site to learn more about how a language exchange can improve your language learning journey!