Wouldn’t it be nice to have a language partner? A native speaker who would answer your questions and correct you when necessary? Well, yes, that’s actually called a language trainer, unless, you do the same thing for him that he does for you.
The best language partner program I can think of is dating. Whether you find a partner and then learn his or her language or you find a language teacher and fall in love with him or her – either version works well. However, this is not a language learning strategy I would recommend. It might happen, and if it does it should be motivated from the heart and not because one wants to learn the language.
A downside to this approach is also that usually partners speak only in language to each other. Again, a romantic relationship is not a language learning partnership but a real one.
The more people you tell about your goal to find a language partner, the more likely it is that you will find one. There are a good many people on social media. Just tell them about it, you might be very lucky, or somebody will point you to somebody else who has the same language learning goals regarding your language.
There are so many sites. And, of course, most of them let you find a partner, that is a language partner, and then they are trying to sell you language lessons. Anyway, I have tried three of them, namely hellotalk.com, italki.com and conversationexchange.com. And yes, it was pretty easy to find somebody.
One of the reasons is the imbalance between your language and the other person’s language. So, if your native language is a language that a lot of people want to learn, and you are trying to find somebody who speaks a not so popular language, bingo, you win. In my case, I was trying to find somebody whose mother tongue is Persian and who wants to learn German. Well, that was easy because a lot of Iranis want to learn German as opposed to Germans who want to learn Persian.
This is rather subjective meaning that different people have different preferences and therefore different criteria when it comes to selecting a language partner. Actually, the same is true when choosing a partner for a romantic relationship, however, I think we have discussed that before, right?
Here are my criteria:
In the western world we tend to keep business and private things apart from each other. So I really wouldn’t care if my language partner is a man or a woman. After all, it is about language and that’s it. However, when it comes to languages spoken in countries where men and women have more clearly defined roles, I would suggest that you choose a language partner of the same sex. And again, this is just what I would do.
You might want to find language partner who either has your level of education or a sightly higher level, if possible. The same is true for interest. This is like in real life: Look at your friends. It is very likely that they have similar interests, a similar level of education, and even a similar sized bank account.
This is like German German or Austrian German or Swiss German. Or for us Germans: You better decide if you prefer British English or American English. Most of us prefer the American version, however, does it really matter? I would say no – on a linguistic level. It has more to do with your cultural preference. So, if you like Austria and you don’t care so much about Germany, find a language partner in Austria.
Well, the idea is about exchange, right? So why would you want to pay for it? The paid version is language trainer and not a language partner. In any case, if you don’t find a language partner you may want to consider getting a language trainer instead. You can apply the same criteria.
Engagement and liability. That’s what you want. Otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to find a language partner. Make appointments either online or offline and don’t try to find excuses. If you want it, go for it. It’s either yes or no.
This is probably the most important piece of advice. Go for it a 100% or you better find a language trainer.