As you know, I’m working on my Spanish. Over the years, as I’ve studied various languages, I’ve tried out language exchanges with many different people. I had a relatively good one yesterday, and I realised I have some summative learnings to share about them.
A number of these are quite reminiscent of dating advice. Except number five. Although, when I think about it, there are people who could do with dating lessons.
By the way: Happy Valentines Day!
- It only works over a longer time period if you really connect with the person. Why force yourself to spend time with someone you don’t have anything in common with? If you don’t have anything to say to someone, you aren’t going to learn their language.
- Be willing to have lots of different ‘first meetings’ and only repeat with some. It’s not as if this time will be wasted – you’ll be practising the language in every different meeting.
- Find an activity to do. Chat comes a lot more easily if you’re doing something together – it could be dinner, a museum, or a walk. A simple coffee might be OK for the first meeting but after that you need to diversify to keep the conversation flowing.
- It works with people who articulate themselves at a similar level. Some native speakers speak very simply; others use a wide vocabulary. Choose someone who articulates things in a similar way to you.
- Be aware that it doesn’t replace lessons. Lessons have a different function, which is to codify your knowledge of the standardised grammar and use of language and then practise it. Language exchanges are about connecting with people first and foremost; and also of course about developing fluency. A combination of both will help you advance the most quickly.