This blog is for some who already has a language exchange partner (LEP) or is thinking of getting one. If this isn’t you, stop reading because there’s not much point.
But if you do have a LEP, be careful, because it’s easy to waste your time by failing to make the most of the potentially great opportunity language exchanges have.
How many of these good practices are you following?
Don’t just turn up with no idea what you’re going to talk about or focus on. Take along a photo, a book or an interesting item you found in the attic. Otherwise you run the risk of uncomfortably forced chitchat.
2 Have an objective
What, linguistically speaking, is the point of the session? Do you want to practise speaking about the past? Or practise vocabulary of describing people? Do you want to go through your revision cards to make sure they’re correct?
3 Establish conditions
The norm is to linguistically share the session 50/50. That way it’s balanced. It can be tempting on occasions to say ‘I’m tired, today. Let’s talk in my language.’ Not good. By linguistically sharing the session, you’re guaranteeing you’ll both get the practice whether you feel like it or not.
4 Begin each session reviewing
You should have a list of the useful language points from last session (for both of you). Review them by testing your partner. How much can they remember? Keep it light-hearted. Language exchanges should be challenging but fun.
5 Be comfortable with mistakes
It’s annoying to be corrected every half sentence. The real benefit of a language exchange session it to develop speaking fluency. It’s much better to note down any important mistakes for your partner to go over when appropriate.
6 Set a timer
If you’re going to have a successful meeting, it’s quite likely you’ll lose track of the time. So if your session is one hour, set a timer for 30 minutes so you know when to change languages (most likely, you have a timer on your phone).
7 Make notes
There is no way you’ll remember your new language points afterwards. In fact after just 24 hours you’ll struggle to remember anything. So write down the new vocab you come across and I recommend you make notes of your partner’s new language points, too. But don’t write every single little thing down. Aim for about 5 to 7 points to learn. That’s plent.
8 End with a summary
End by going over the points you’ve both noted to see if you agree and to make sure what you think you’ve understood is correct. You don’t want to spend the foll week learning something that’s wrong.
9 Post production
Straight after the session, transfer your notes into a learnable form such as flash cards or a revision app. If you leave it too long, you’ll find yourself struggling to read your own notes trying to remember what on earth ‘grlmbk’ was supposed to mean.
If you follow these points, the benefit you will get from your time together will far exceed what you’d achieve otherwise. So you’re doing yourself a favour and for your partner, too.