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Speaking a second language can pose a real challenge if you’ve been focusing mainly on grammar, or if getting to interact with native speakers hasn’t been as easy as you imagined, as you haven’t found many people with whom to meet up.
Language exchange is an increasingly common practice nowadays. It’s a new tool with which you can perfect a foreign language while having a drink or a coffee with other people who are interested in learning a language by helping each other. For this reason, today we bring you 4 tips so you can maximise your language exchange experience.
1. Prepare effectively for each language exchange session
It is essential, before every language exchange session, to identify your learning objectives in accordance with your weaknesses in the foreign language.
What can you do? You must prepare the topics or questions you’d like to go over during the language exchange. In order to do this, I recommend the following:
- Revise your grammar: go over the different key verb tenses to be able to maintain a fluent conversation. This article will help you know when and where to learn grammar.
- Refresh your vocabulary: you can revise different vocabulary subjects using some of MosaLingua apps, available in different languages (English, French, Italian, Portuguese and German). You can learn all the vocabulary you need as well as improve your listening skills thanks to the dialogues included within the apps.
- Make use of conversation guides: conversation guides can be a fantastic tool to recall some of the key phrases you will have to use during your language exchange. You can find free conversation guides here, which are available in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and German.
2. Find your perfect language exchange partner
It’s completely natural to feel that the rapport between you and your partner isn’t perfect.
What can you do? You must give it time; the “friendship” you’re building needs time to settle. A good partner will know when and how to correct you; he/she won’t interrupt you when you’re speaking; he/she will respect the time dynamic you have set (preferably, 50/50 of the time devoted to each language); he/she will make an effort so that the conversation flows seamlessly; and he/she will be happy to answer your questions but won’t adopt the attitude of a “teacher”.
3. Make the most of each language exchange session
- Take some notes: during each session, your brain will be processing too much information, which will make it difficult to remember everything you’re learning. Your notes will allow you to revise at home as many times as you need in order to learn how to formulate questions, conjugate verb tenses, etc. I also recommend recording each session with your mobile phone if you wish to have another means to remember what happened during the session.
- Do not focus too much on grammar: remember that your language exchange partner isn’t a language teacher, necessarily, so he will probably not be able to give you a rigorous explanation about some grammatical rules. Focus on memorising how to express yourself and on taking notes so you can analyse what you learnt when you get home.
- Enjoy yourself: overcome your fear to speak in a different language. This is the perfect opportunity to have a good time with someone like you; someone who is interested in learning a language and its culture. Try to avoid making the conversation sound like to job interview. On the contrary, try to have each conversation make you fall in love with the language you’re learning.
4. Increase the difficulty of the conversations gradually
Maybe you will realise at some point that the conversations with your partner aren’t challenging or that they are far too challenging and you’re feeling overwhelmed by the vocabulary he or she is using.
What can you do? Don’t stress! The first few sessions should help you get familiar with this learning tool and with your partner. Remember to have a flexible attitude and try to speak with different people until you find your ideal language exchange partner. If your conversations are too easy, you can ask your partner to provide you with different examples of how to use certain words or expressions in a natural way.
I hope you put these 4 tips into practice to maximise your language exchange experience!
This post has been written by Mildred Sarachaga. Mildred is Colombian but lives and works in England. She’s a regular contributor to MosaLingua’s blog and always provides useful tips and new ways to learn new languages.
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