A language exchange is an arrangement where you meet with somebody (either in real life or over the internet) and communicate in your L2 for a set period (which is L1 for your partner), and then communicate in your L1 (which is presumably L2 for your partner).
The Internet has made this much more convenient that previously. There are websites of people willing to meet along with their preference of languages. VOIP and Video-conferencing solutions like Gizmo and Skype make it easy to talk to people from all over the world for free.
Strategies for making the most of a language exchange: 1. Make sure to talk equally, otherwise one of you isn't practicing your output capabilities. 2. ...
Generally, language exchange can be much more beneficial on a "higher" level. For total beginners, it is most likely a better idea to first study the language on your own (or with a real teacher), to get the basics down. Natives can very rarely actually teach the language, they can tell you what is right and wrong, but seldom why. If this does not bother you, then never mind this comment at all.
To find an online exchange partner, you can look at these following sites. You may have to look for quite a while to find what you are looking for, but good, useful people can be found on these sites. Some sites offer only email correspondents, other facilitate Skype conversations between interested parties.
There are a number of online Language learning communities.
What do you do then?
- Chat with each other in your respective target languages.
- Write essays for each other to correct.
- Provided you find a dedicated partner and you are equally dedicated, create things for each other! You will most likely see what your partner has problems with and he/she will identify you weak spots. Create exercises for each other, tables with important information, schemas for how to construct certain types of phrases, and so on.
- Record word lists/phrases for each other. Do you have 30 words you want to learn from a text or some other source? Have your partner record them for you, and listen to them on your mp3 player every day on your way to work/school.
- Have your partner record a small text. He/she can either just give you the audio and have you transcribe it, or give you the text with 30-60% of the words taken away, for you to fill them back in again.
Real Life language exchange Edit
If you have a language exchange partner where you live and with whom you meet regularly, here are some tips for what the two of you can use the time for:
1. First of all, make a schedule. Unless you are both incredibly busy people, agree to meet twice a week, let's say Monday and Friday. On Monday, work on one language. On Friday, work on the other. This makes it much easier for both persons to get as much as possible out of the exchange.
2. Remember: you can only talk about the things you already know. It is tiresome to try to talk about something for which you completely lack the vocabulary . You can decide in beforehand what you are going to talk about, for example cooking in Polish, and study the vocabulary before you actually meet.
3. Write essays. When you have a deadline, you are more likely to do it. Person A writes 500 words about a subject of interest, and submits it to person B prior to the meeting. Person B can this way correct it and not waste your meeting time on doing that, and when meeting he/she shows you your mistakes and make you write out the sentences correctly and/or read the text out loud.
4. Dictations. Meeting real life is ideal for dictations. Read one sentence out loud two or three times while the other person writes it down. Then correct him/her and have him/her read the text back to you.
5. Pronunciation. Of course, when you do have such a valuable jewel as a native speaker of your target language in front of you, make the absolute best of it by mutually using each other for your pronunciation!
6. Small talk. Start each session with talking about what you did today. Learn what phrases to use for this, and write them down in both your languages on a piece of paper that you can have in front of you while doing it, until it is no longer necessary.
Where can you find an exchange partner?
(Please add cities you know about)