Why You Should Start Language Exchanging

     One of my favorite activities to do outside of filmmaking is to participate in language exchange. I know firsthand the idea of speaking to a native speaker at any level is terrifying because nothing can prepare you for their speed of excitement talking about what they love. For this article, I’m here to promote how much fun participating in language exchange is. 

Why should I language exchange with someone if I am already in language classes? 

    Realistically, sitting in a classroom you can only learn so much. Languages fluctuate all the time┄as seen with words like “lol” being added into English, which means language exchanging with a native speaker can fill in the blanks you need to know before you ever step foot into the other country. Also native speakers can assist you in sounding more like them and less like a robot repeating the most formal version of the language. 

Where do I go to find someone? How do I pick a partner?

    There are a ton of language exchange apps such as: HelloTalk, Tandemand HiNative, but you can also find them on other apps like Bumble in the event that you have no one around you that speaks your target language natively. You can also meet people on campus or in your classes if you want to get together in a place like a library. When it comes to choosing who to language exchange with, that is up to you. For me, the gender of the person I exchange with doesn’t matter, but that isn’t always the case. One of my language partners says he prefers having male language exchange partners because they won’t interpret going out for dinner or asking them if they want to participate in one of his hobbies as a date invitation. Overall, whoever you pick should be someone you feel comfortable with. 

How can you tell who is or is not a good language exchange partner?

    When you find someone to language exchange with, it will be quite obvious after your first few meetings whether or not things will work out. For one, they won’t have you do their homework. While it is possible for you to help them when they are stuck, you shouldn’t be doing someone’s homework for them and vice versa. The exchange also will not be uncomfortable, such as them asking you extremely personal questions. This is as much a cultural exchange as it is a language exchange, but it is not a dating game. If the things they try to talk about make you uncomfortable, you have every right to find a new partner. The goal is to locate the problems the both of you have with your target language and try to minimize those gaps or misunderstandings. 

What do we talk about?

    Truthfully, you can talk about anything you feel comfortable with. There is no need for you to give out any information about yourself that makes you uncomfortable, such as where you live or your full name. The two of you can converse as much as you want about your favorite hobbies, what you study, where you want to travel, or anything else under the sun. The more you can use your target language in action, the more your partner can correct your errors and help you determine where you need the most practice. Doing so will help you get better.  You never know, your language exchange partners may turn out to be some of your best friends in the future.

    Ultimately, if you decide to get a language exchange partner to help improve your language skills, you have all of the power. If you ever feel uncomfortable, you can stop the conversation and end the communication. Language exchanges do not always work out, which is fine, and shouldn’t make you lose hope. Just remember to have fun and enjoy making some new friends all around the country or the world.