Posted on December 8th, 2013by
In Events, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »
You’ve heard of speed dating, but what about speed speaking? ‘Language exchanges’ as they’re known, are the plutonic equivalent of speed dating when you get to hone your language skills. You find an event, you sit at a table, you talk to a complete stranger in their language for a few minutes then they talk to you in your language for the remaining few minutes, then…move sideways for your next quick conversation.
Everyone always says that the best way to really learn a language is to speak it but, outside of a classroom where you feel comfortable, confident and know what the subject matter is about, it’s not so easy. Not unless you are lucky enough to be able to jet off randomly to practise your skills abroad. Many of us are really shy when it comes to speaking foreign languages, for fear of getting it wrong and being ridiculed. And if you don’t have foreign friends or colleagues who you can ask for help, how are you supposed to practise?
Language ‘Blind Dates’
Language exchanges have become very popular in the UK. With so many people now visiting and staying in the UK, there is no shortage of foreigners wishing to hone their English languages skills. So in the same way, they will be happy to help you hone your language skills. Just like the classified ‘partner’ ads, you´ll find many advertising for conversation exchanges, usually arranging to meet in bars or cafés. Like a blind date of sorts, except that the only awkwardness is about how well you are, or are not, speaking their language. It may seem strange at first and you may only meet some people once, but an hour of conversation with a native speaker of the language you’re learning will boost your skills as well as your confidence more than you can imagine. If you’re lucky enough, you might meet a language partner who wants to meet up for regular conversation exchanges. An hour a week speaking with the same person means you’ll be able to progress much faster as you can cover new ground each time, and shyness won’t be an issue.
Conversation Exchange Events
Does an hour of speaking with a complete stranger in a foreign language seem too daunting? Check the newspapers and Internet websites for information about conversation language events. These events will specify the languages to be spoken, where and when the event is being held, the cost for attending and the time frame for each language exchange. Far from the conversation exchanges just mentioned, these events place an emphasis on being fast and being fun. With the drinks flowing, you get just a few minutes to speak to your partner in their language to practise your skills, and then it’s time for them to practise their English for a few minutes while they speak to you. With no time for shyness or awkward silences, it’s time to move on and you’re suddenly sitting opposite a new partner where your few minutes start again. Lively and fun, these events are a great way to get talking in your favourite foreign language!
Have you tried a conversation exchange? Was it a private meeting or an arranged event, and did you find it beneficial for practising your language skills? How did the conversation exchange help you to progress in your language lessons?