Best Sites For learning Spanish
The 7 Best Language Exchange Sites
In a foreign language immersion environment, speaking and listening skills are crucial as they help us connect with the local community. But while interacting with native speakers of other languages is the norm when you’re abroad, having a language partner is less common in self-study approaches, particularly when it comes to individuals who use language apps and online learning platforms.
The goal of the typical language learner is to be able to communicate with people from all over the world. So why spend so little time practicing and so much time studying grammar and vocabulary? That’s where language exchange sites come in. Most of them are free and provide robust forums full of foreign language speakers of a variety of tongues. Learn why you should give them a try, which sites to go to and how to get the most out of your exchange.
Real people make the best learning partners
Conversations with real people cannot be simulated by a dialogue or computer. Why not? Because language is dynamic and real-time communication is both unpredictable and unique to every context and group of speakers. We all bring our own language, ideas and past to the table when it comes to conversation, whether it be in our native tongue or a foreign language. Sure, it is possible to throw out a topic out and ask people to discuss it, but no two speakers will have the same conversation.
Plus, humans communicate in a variety of ways (read more on the functions of language) and every language community has its own set of rules that a new speaker must learn. If you train yourself to respond correctly to computer simulated dialogues, you will most likely learn ample phrases and vocabulary in the new language. However, you won’t necessarily prepare yourself for the twists and turns, false-starts, accents, and other peculiarities of a real language exchange.
Native or non-native speaker
So does it matter if your language partner is a native speaker or a fellow learner? It depends on what you want to get out of the experience. You are more likely to learn native phrases and the cultural nuances of a particular language community when you practice with a native speaker. Nonetheless, it may be intimidating and learning and acquisition can be prevented if your affective filter is up.
In this situation, a second language speaker can give you a chance to express yourself and practice your productive skills without causing any heart palpitations. If they are at a more advanced level, they can provide essential scaffolding to help explain language that a native speaker would not notice or think to discuss. Other learners may also be able to share their own tips and strategies with you.
Apps to try for foreign language exchange
The online language learning community has witnessed a virtual explosion of new apps in the past five years, tools which provide everything a self-study learner needs to achieve fluency in a foreign language, no matter where he or she is located. Gone are the days of relying on school programs to introduce you to foreign pen-pals. The Internet has removed borders and digital language exchange solutions are perfecting new match-making algorithms every day. Here are some great new tools you might want to try:
1. WeSpeke is a social network for language learners that makes it both convenient and fun to find language partners. You tell them a little bit about yourself (interests, ability level) and who your ideal language partner is (languages spoken, age, country) and they suggest people for you to contact.
2. Speaky uses a match-making algorithm to introduce you to native speakers from around the world. They have mobile apps or you can use their service on web. Once you’ve filled in your profile, it’s easy to get started.
3. HiNative is a fantastic free service where you can not only ask questions about the language you’re learning, but contribute to the community by providing feedback for people studying your native language.
4. Tandem takes your profile information and then makes a decision about how well you will fit into their language learning community. Once you’re in, find a partner with the same interests and languages as you and get practicing!