One of my goals for this year, 2017, is to become more fluent in both German and Russian. I keep a daily schedule for both languages. I watch videos, learn new vocabulary, and listen to the radio. I'm sure that if I keep doing these and other activities every day I will gain more knowledge of my target language. But, will I become more fluent?
Very often, I find that when it’s time to speak, people who have been studying Spanish for a while, and in fact studied it at the university level for a couple of years and can read it and understand it well, can barely say anything. I found myself in the same situation recently when I was staying at a hostel in Miami. There were a couple of Germans, and even though I could communicate very well with them in English, I decided to practice my German.
I was able to understand almost everything they were saying to me but, when it was my turn to say something, I struggled a bit to construct my sentences correctly. I would say the whole experience was very positive. I practiced my German, and was able to understand. But, more importantly, I noticed where my German needed some tuning up.
This was a very direct way to assess where my language skills were. I realized then that certain exercises I was doing every day were not as effective as they were in the past. It became clear that I had to look for an online language partner.
My first option was Polyglotclub.com
. I contacted some people in the chat and the video chat as well. It helps much more if you have WhatsApp
, since more people have this application than Messenger or Skype
, which is the one I have. I was not able to find any Germans, but the Russians are very interested in learning English, so that helped me.
Another option, a website very similar to Polyglotclub.com
, is Italki
. Their platform is very similar. The only difference is that you can find online tutors. Some of them are very inexpensive and offer packages. You can contact other users as well and make friends.
The third option was Couchsurfing.com
. This website is not focused on language learning. It is more a site for backpackers to find hosts and make friends while traveling around the globe. But there are different clubs, some of which are for language learners, so every day people are looking for language exchange partners . . . Portuguese for Chinese, Japanese for German, German for Italian . . . as well as conversation groups through WhatsApp
or Messenger. This website is free. Here again, I contacted some Russians interested in learning English.
The fourth option is a well known app called HelloTalk
. Here, people correct each other’s sentences and chat as well. It is not a very good application for chatting, but you can contact people and later chat with them through another medium such as WhatsApp
There are a lot of applications similar to Hellotalk
, such as Let’sTalk, Innovative language, Hello, Talkall, HelloChat, Olla
, and PopOn
, just to name a few. There are also several apps customized for specific languages.
A language is a living thing, and even if you are studying on your own, eventually you will need it to communicate. At some point in your language learning, you will feel you’re not ready for a language partner. But, think about the millions of people who migrate from country to country looking for better opportunities. There is no option for them; they have to learn the hard way. But, we all know that immersion is the best way to learn a language. It is not easy, but it is effective.
There are certainly more sites and ways to find language partners around the world. Think about dating sites, for example, or gaming sites. The world is becoming smaller, and through the internet we can find language partners and people interested in learning our native language. Just remember that you have to be proactive. Don’t wait for people to look for you. Look for language partners. Don’t wait; the time is now.
Please leave comments and let me know if you know of other websites. If you already found a language partner let me know how you did it, and share any tips you might have. Any other websites? Apps? Thanks for reading and happy learning.