Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Benefits of Language Exchange Partnerships

Language Exchange Defined

Being interested to learn a new language isn’t enough to pursue proficiency. It takes practice to develop skills in the target language and often, it is difficult to find inexpensive ways to achieve the goal. A language exchange program is one of the most comfortable and collaborative methods for language acquisition. It is a program which involves two or more people who speak different languages coming together to practice the language of  the other participant. For example, if American students are interested in learning Korean before going out of the country as exchange students, they may find Koreans who are studying English in America for a language exchange partnerships. Generally, language exchange partners wanted to develop the speaking skills in the target language outside of the classroom. It is known to be effective in building confidence in the language by increasing vocabulary, knowledge of the common expressions and overall fluency.

Finding Language Partners
There are several ways people can get involved in a language exchange programs. Traditionally, ads in the newspaper or magazines would make personal meetings with possible language partners possible. Furthermore, with technology reaching even the furthest corners of the world, there are plenty of opportunities to meet language partners. It made electronic meetings possible despite the distance, or even the rarity of language one wishes to learn.
Commonly, language exchange partnerships are done through emails and chats. As partners become familiar with common expressions of the target language, video and voice chats are utilized to get exposure for listening to proper stress, intonation and phrasing.
There are websites that help connect people interested in language exchange. Although most would like to find native speakers for this partnership, many who seek language exchanges are of different nationalities who, in most cases, are multilingual. The popular languages that people are seeking to learn include Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, and English. It is wise that one should check many websites and online language partnership communities to find suitable language partners. You might even find one in your area for face to face sessions by searching on Craigslist or Facebook.

Language Exchange Partnerships Benefits:

1. Getting Along With a Motivated Learner
Learning a language isn’t limited to mastering the skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking in the classroom alone. Most often, in language classes, students get to communicate only with their classmates, or the native teacher does all the talking. The classroom setting is good when members actively interact and help each other towards the goal of fluency, which is not often the case. Language exchange partnerships, in contrast, provide unlimited chances to speak and practice in the new language. This is true as members of this partnerships share a common goal to learn with the same level of motivation.

2. Unlimited Chances to Converse
Unlike the classroom setting, language partnerships, though structured in some ways, focus more on communication through conversations. Consequently, since people need skills on listening, grammar, vocabulary, and common expressions to carry a good conversation, this is a good chance to put into practice what one has learned in language classrooms. With topics greatly dependent on agreed issues or area of interests, partners will have something to talk about. It also encourages equal talking and listening time that seldom happens in classrooms. Additionally, in the absence of penalty, marked papers or score sheets, and language level evaluations which are language schools’ routines, partners are more relaxed and enjoy the practice more. When both parties are collaborative, language learning is easy.

3. Friendly and Informal Setting
Most formal language classrooms may be too business-like in nature. This creates doubt or fear for students to join discussions, and makes the learning atmosphere cold and unproductive. Language partnership, in contrast, makes people feel more social as it enables communications in a more meaningful way. Participants are likely to develop mutual trust towards the goal of language learning. Because it can be done one-on-one, it provides enough chances to talk about subjects in a variety of context depending on each partner’s set of interest. This makes conversations enjoyable, fun, full of humor, and mixed with nuances specific to a language in its natural setting. Most commonly, language partners build stronger relationships and thus develop friendships that make the communication going even after the language exchange tandem ends.

4. Personalized Language Focus
Educational research found out that personalized or individualized trainings are more effective in acquiring skills. This can also be applied to language exchange partnerships where each member get to choose the kind of activities deemed necessary for practice and exposure. With partners being self-directed, the chance for improvement on social, intellectual and personality needs to live in or understand a culture where the target language is spoken is faster. The phase of learning can also be properly adjusted to meet one’s abilities, interest, and needs. Because both partners are tasked to help one another learn the language, it enhances independence and sense of responsibility which leads partners able to confront ideas out of first-hand, real-life experiences. As they are co-dependent on each other, they have no choice but to verbalize their ideas to get understood. This process makes interactions meaningful and natural.

5. Native Speaker Exposure
Technicalities of a language can be learned from textbooks but understanding colloquialism and even slang of a language is something else. Since most language partners are privileged to learn from native speakers, issues connected to language use like culture, customs, and modifications in speech can be clarified. With deeper understanding of these factors, it is easy to model language use in different contexts at its most natural accent. Native language partners can also engage one another in real everyday language usage of common phrases or words. With knowledge of speech patterns, instant feedback is available. This is helpful as it introduces correct practice from the start.

Anyone can take part in language exchange opportunities. With many free websites offering information on how to find language tandems, being fluent in a foreign language is close at hand. Since you will be in an exchange deal, you don’t need a lot of money to keep going. Instead of meeting personally, you can even stick with online based language partnerships that are a lot safer. When looking for more authentic text language practice, additional information on culture and practices can help you understand why such usage in a language exists. As soon as you find a good prospect, be creative and make your goals clear. Remember to contribute as much as your tandem does. This way, you get to learn each other’s language in a mutually beneficial atmosphere.

To start, you can even let people know you want to learn a certain language. Who knows, this might start referrals without having to spend much time fishing for a good prospect. Otherwise, become a member of language exchange communities to establish ties. Language learning need not be expensive. All that is needed to enjoy the benefits of language partnerships are creativity, independence, self-direction in learning, and an excellent skill in your first language to be offered in return.

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