6 Tips for Language Exchange to Be Successful and Productive


Language exchange is always a welcome addition to any language learning routine. Not sure where to get started? Here’s my tips for language exchange.

Want successful and productive language exchange sessions? Here's 6 tips for language exchange to help you make the most of it. ➔

Your Free Language Exchange Phrases

Language exchange isn’t like any old first time meeting. When you’re meeting regularly, there’s some slightly different useful phrases and expressions that come in handy.

Ready to start translating those phrases into your target language? Click below to get your free Language Exchange Phrases now.

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Finding Language Exchange

There’s lots of options for finding language exchange partners nowadays. The annoying thing is there’s not one “best of the bunch” or one size fits all option out there really.

So I’m going to give you lots of ideas. Buckle up.

Here’s my tips for language exchange first steps – finding an exchange partner.

Take a look at the ones that intrigue you most and pick and choose a small number of options to try. You don’t need to try everything here.

TIP 1: SOCIAL MEDIA

There’s so many potential places to find language exchange partners on social media that you might not even need to check any of the next options. You ready? Here’s some ideas for where to find language exchange partners on social media…

Instagram

Check relevant hashtags and see if there’s anyone there to connect with.

Join in Instagram challenges like #languagediarychallenge.

Facebook

Join Groups for learners – there’s even some out there designed specifically for finding language exchange partners.

If you’re quite advanced, join Groups for natives about things that interest you.

Twitter

Check relevant hashtags and see if there’s anyone there to connect with.

If there’s any happening, try joining a Twitter chat to connect and reach out to people after.

READ MORE: Why Social Media is the Best Free Language Learning Tool

TIP 2: APPS + FORUMS

If social media isn’t working or isn’t an option for you, try apps and other forums and spaces designed for this purpose. Here’s some options for where to start…

italki

Check the Community tab, click “Find Language Partners” and start reaching out.

Try the other Community features such as Notebook, Answers and Discussions and see if anyone responds often, consider reaching out.

HelloTalk, Tandem, Bilingua, Amikumu

These apps are designed specifically for language exchange and connection. Generally helpful for short-term chats rather than “committed” language exchange.

Again, don’t feel overwhelmed here. Pick one or two that work for you and that’ll be easier to keep track of.

READ MORE: All The Indigenous and Endangered Language Learning Apps You Need

TIP 3: EVENTS – ON AND OFFLINE

One of my longest lasting language exchanges came from Women In Language!

By joining in with events created for language learners both on and offline, you’ll be meeting people who love what you love. Here’s some ideas of events…

Online

Women In Language!

I’m not sure of any other permanent online events for language learners at the time of writing. Update me if you know of any!

Offline

Polyglot Conference, Polyglot Gathering, LangFest, local language meetups.

These events are always a lot of fun anyway, so you won’t want to head there simply expecting language exchange. You’ll come away much more inspired!

Don’t literally walk up to people like “Be my language exchange partner?!” But I don’t need to tell you that. If you find yourself forming a bond, it’s always worth asking.

READ MORE: Presenting Women In Language: A Brand New Online Language Event!

Doing Language Exchange

Once you’ve found people, it’s up to the two of you to make the most of this new arrangement! Here’s some tips for language exchange once you’re ready to go.

TIP 4: YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE

If you have more time to spare than money, then a language exchange is another great option for connection. Why do I say that?

Well, generally, time with a tutor would be paid for and time with a language exchange partner is free. However, you are expected to give as much as you receive in terms of time.

For example, let’s say you’re learning Spanish and are meeting a native Spanish speaker who’s learning English. You meet for an hour and chat in Spanish for 30 minutes before switching to English for 30 minutes. You’re giving 30 minutes of your time for 30 minutes of their time.

This means that you need to be going into language exchange prepared to give your support, time and help in return.

READ MORE: How to Get the Most from Your Online Language Lessons with a Tutor

TIP 5: SHAKE ON IT, BUT IT’S NOT A CONTRACT

To make the most of language exchange, be sure to lay out the expectations beforehand.

Decide between you where you’ll meet, how often, how long you’ll speak each language before switching, when you’ll meet.

Much like with what we as students expect from lessons with teachers, expectations from language exchange differ.

Some people will be going into a language exchange expecting something really casual. Meanwhile, others will want a full, packed session with contact in between and stuff prepared to share. They’re both right. But they’re both not right for the same person.

This means you want to chat beforehand (or in your first sessions) about your expectations from and commitment to the language exchange. Make sure you’re on the same page and you’ll be golden.

Another thing to note here, don’t feel like you’re committing forever. If it’s not a good fit, politely bow out of the regular exchange after the first few meetings – but don’t disappear and ghost someone! Not cool.

READ MORE: Do You Need a Language Study Buddy? (+ 6 Tips on How to Make it a Success)

TIP 6: BE READY

No matter how casual you want your language exchange to be, it’s always welcomed to show up prepared. Even if that just means being in a quiet room or having your dictionary ready. It’s about respecting your language exchange partner’s time, regardless of how casual you both decide it is.

If you’re going for something more structured or organised, there might be other interpretations of “being ready”.

Perhaps you’ve got a few questions that have come up from what you’ve learnt that week, or you’ve brought along an article that you’ve read and want to discuss in your time. And remember too that it’s an exchange, so if you’re both happy to do so, feel free to bring along something to share in your native language too that will help your exchange partner.

READ MORE: 7 Ways to Track Your Language Learning

Your Free Language Exchange Phrases

Here’s a second chance to get your free copy of essential language exchange phrases.

When you meet someone regularly, it soon becomes clear that it’s not just a case of “my name is…” and “I live in…”. You know that stuff about each other already!

Prepare and aim to keep using the target language as much as possible with your free language exchange phrases ready to translate into the language you need. Click the image below to download now.

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What are your tips for language exchange? Share in the comments below!

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About Lindsay Williams

Lindsay Williams always had a curiosity for language. From spotting that most of the words on Italian road signs ended in vowels to actually wanting to order the baguettes on holiday in France, the warning signs were there. It wasn’t until Shakira released Laundry Service and she asked for a Spanish dictionary for her birthday to translate the Spanish on the album that things got what might be described as serious. Since then, Lindsay has gone on to study more languages than her fingers can count, including a degree in Modern Language Studies along the way. After founding Lindsay Does Languages to inspire independent language learners to go further when doing it solo, she now hopes it’s contagious.