Converse with Native Speakers
Today, we are going to discuss one of the most intimidating parts of language learning—speaking with a native.
Regular practice with a native speaker can accelerate your learning. You learn conversational skills, better your pronunciation, and you will be able to ask an expert questions. That said, finding a tandem partner can be tedious.
Here are some tips to help you find and successfully work with your partner:
• Know what you need. When searching for a partner, don’t only look at compatible language levels. Think about a person you would like to talk to on a regular basis; imagine their age, gender, hobbies, and motivation for learning your language. Be straightforward in what you need from your partner. Do you want to talk movies or business?
• Be prepared. List greetings and brainstorm questions before the meeting. Try practicing in front of a mirror for confidence. Doing this will give you a starting point of conversation, making the conversation less awkward.
• Set guidelines for your exchange and stick to your agreement. If you decided to practice each language for 30 minutes and then switch, don’t let your partner take over your time. And be considerate of your partner if you start going over the agreed time limit. Always be punctual when meeting your partner—any last-minute cancels or delays will make the next session more awkward, if it happens at all.
• Let the conversation evolve naturally. Authentic native conversations evolve from one topic to another. If you start a conversation about your favorite food and end up talking about environmental conservation, don’t stop the conversation. Being too firm about which theme you’re willing to talk about will make your sessions sound stiff and unnatural. At the end of the day, you want to sound like a native, not a robot.
If a specific topic is important to you, find a way to return to your original conversation. For example: “How do you think global warming will affect our food?”
• Ask questions. Asking how to say something is always appreciated. Don’t forget to write it down and practice it later. Part of language learning is cultural exchange, so don’t be afraid to ask about your partner’s country, religion, or politics. Just be polite! If you prepare beforehand, you can even ask these questions in your target language.
A little later on
When you have reached the upper-intermediate/advanced stage in learning, you may become bored with tandem partners. Instead, you’ll want full conversations in your target language. If this is the case, try switching to online forums, comment sections of target language newspapers, or finding meet-up groups. Meet-up groups in your target language include both people who will help you as a beginner and those who would prefer to only speak the target language.
Today we have discussed how to find a language partner and how to have a successful exchange. We have also suggested alternatives. The most important take away? Plan what you want to say before you speak. This is a practical approach for confidence and smooth conversations.
Be prepared for tomorrow’s lesson, in which we will talk about how you can create a language immersion environment at home.
Recommended resources to find native speakers
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