language exchange and talking

Finding someone to talk to in the language you are learning is not always easy.

I adore my Korean friends, but I don’t really practice speaking Korean with them.  I have wanted to find a Korean who lived in my town.  I’ve considered placing an ad in the newspaper.  I decided it was time to get proactive, after the nice woman at the local Asian market offered to give my information to Korean students who shop there. This led me to send some emails to Williams College to actively seek out Koreans.

Believe me, I am an introvert who does not approach strangers, let alone ask favors of them like asking them to speak Korean with me. Deciding to learn Korean has meant deciding to venture out into the world and do things I have never done before.  It meant joining Interpals to find Korean pen pals.  It meant meeting folks at LingQ forums and Mindpasta.  Now, it may mean that I decide to pay for tutoring.

At least if I am paying someone for their time, I don’t have to worry as much if our relationship is fair.  I clearly give away too much to my “so called” language exchange partner whom I just basically give free English lessons to.  I take too much from other Koreans who do not need English assistance but generously give their time to talk about Korean language.  With a financial arrangement, I could  selfishly make the hour all about me knowing the person is getting money in exchange.

The problem, of course, is that it can run into significant money to pay for private one-on-one tutoring, especially if you plan to do it for years. One Mindpasta member pays her tutor $40 USD a lesson.  Korean Digital Academy’s classes at $75 a month seem a bargain by comparison with 4 hours of speaking practice online plus the video lessons and workbook materials.

I’ve dabbled a bit in looking into other ways to get language exchange. Benny Lewis helpfully sent me a video on just this subject today.  Here he explains about using italki.

My KDA classmate suggested I look at My Language Exchange.

What is your experience?  Share how you met people to talk to in Korean.

Tim Doner, the American high schooler who speaks 20 languages, describes talking to people on Skype as making a huge difference for him, changing his language study from a solitary activity with a book to a social activity that let him meet many people around the world.  All the books I have read recommend it.  Yet, if you have never done it before, it can be a daunting task to make that first contact.

Benny Lewis challenges that one should find someone to speak to in the next 2 days.  Don’t put it off, he warns.  Do it now!

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One Response to language exchange and talking

  1. Pingback: italki: First conversation | Hanguk Babble

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