James speaks English and is learning Spanish.
Maria speaks Spanish and is learning English.
When they meet, they can both experience practising their language skills with a native speaker, and this is what we call a language exchange!
We organise International Language Exchanges every week across the UK for people like James and Maria to meet and exchange their languages in a fun and informal atmosphere. Here are our top 5 tips to getting the most out of your Language Exchange experience:
At our language exchange events, each person is given a sticker – on one side you write the language(s) you are learning, and on the other side you write the language(s) you can help others with. Your host will also help you find people at the event who speak the language(s) you want to learn.
At our events we normally have native speakers for most major languages present, however if you want to check who will be attending, it is best to ask on one of our Facebook groups. You can also use these groups to search for a 1-1 meeting, or if you want to find an online language partner (via Skype) then Italki offers a free matching service here.
At a language exchange, everyone is both a student and a teacher for one evening. Try to change languages after a short time, so each person speaking has an opportunity to practise the language they are learning. You can also set a time limit – say 30 minutes in French and 30 minutes in English.
Before arriving, choose what you want to achieve: practise greetings, travel vocabulary, speaking about the future, or even something simple like learning the numbers 1-10 in German. For more tips on language learning, check out our blog post:
Write down any questions that come up during your independent study or language lessons. You can then bring them to the meeting and get the (free) opinion of native speakers.
Questions about grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary or even cultural differences are all extremely welcome. People will be very happy to help you, and bring a notebook too if you want, or use one of our recommended apps:
Chatting to a native speaker can really make you nervous, however Polyglots (people who have mastered several different languages) all agree, that making mistakes is an essential part of the process of learning.
So make mistakes, have some fun, because in the end we are all in the same boat, or as they say in Japan – we all eat rice from the same bowl!
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