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Language Exchange 101

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In my last post, I discussed the pros of meeting face-to-face with a native speaker to practice your target language often referred to as language exchange. If you’ve never done it before, here’s a guide to help you get started.

1. Arrange a meeting of at least one hour (for your first session at least – whilst you both find your feet a lot of time will be lost in small talk)

  1. Agree to spend half the time in your target language and then the other half in theirs (alternate each session to keep it fair)

  2. Meet somewhere quiet. Look for cafes with quiet areas and avoid pubs on Thursdays, Fridays and weekends. (Language exchange is challenging enough without extra noise)

  3. Take a pen and notebook (you will ALWAYS learn something from the native no matter how fluent you are)

  4. Think of some topics in advance (in case your initial small talk doesn’t lend itself to any further conversation)

  5. Meet with your partner as regularly as you’re both able to (long breaks will hinder your development)

  6. Have multiple partners. Different partners will provide you with more diverse conversation and skills. It’s an added plus to have another partner in case you don’t ‘get along’ with your first one.

With all that in mind, don’t forget to take adequate precautions when meeting people from the internet for the first time in person. Always go to a public place and ensure you let a friend or relative know where you are going. As a woman, I’ve chosen to only meet female language exchange partners.