If you ever tried to learn a foreign language, then you know how difficult it is to remember things when you don’t have the chance to practice. It is the normal way our brain functions: connections that are not used get loose and disappear, while connections used a lot tend to get stronger. But how to strengthen your connections, when nobody around you speaks that foreign language you have worked so much to learn and you see now vanishing more every day? Of course you can ask a friend to have conversations with you only in that foreign language, but don’t tell me that you don’t start to laugh after the few 2-3 minutes! I tried it myself: it was really good fun, but awful language skills improvement.
Now you can practice online the foreign language of your choice. MyLanguageExchange is the best place to do it: you choose a partner who wants to practice your native language and who is native speaker of the language you want to learn. Then you can have e-mail exchanges, text chat and even voice conversations.
This is how the MyLanguageExchange guys describe their services:
We provide free, helpful guidelines and tips on how to do a language exchange, as well as free lesson plans designed by an expert in language exchange learning. The activities are fun so you can easily “break the ice” with your new learning partner and get effective practice.
MyLanguageExchange uses the Cormier language exchange method:
Following the Cormier method, you will practice with native speakers of the language you’re learning, in small mixed groups of speakers of the two languages – ideally, between 2 and 4 people. Half the time, you will be speaking in the language you’re practicing, and half the time in your own language – to give your exchange partners a chance to practice too.
During your practice, you should use the lesson plans in the Chat Companion. This will provide the structure and activities needed in your language exchange. It is the next best thing to having an actual qualified teacher facilitate your practice session. But unlike in the typical teacher-led conversation class, you will totally forget the idea of grammar and instead practice using what you know – what you’ve studied before. The activities you will do and the way you will do them will help your listening comprehension, pronunciation and vocabulary. Your grammar will improve on its own with practice. In addition, depending on the lesson plan you use, you will work on other communication and conversation skills.
As they do not provide any kind of facilitation, you need to do some preparatory work, in order to get the best out of your language exchange experience.
The community is quite big, with members from 133 countries, covering 115 languages. If you are not satisfied with MyLanguageExchange, you can check out the comprehensive list of similar services from Wikipedia.