Choosing a language partner may not seem like a big task but getting it wrong can hinder your progress and your motivation to learn a language. I wanted to put together some handy tips to make sure you're getting the most out of your study sessions with a language partner and how to make sure you choose someone who is right for you.
1. Do you feel comfortable
In the beginning and even not in the beginning, you're going to be making a lot of mistakes, and I mean a lot.
Making mistakes goes hand in hand with learning a language and it's unavoidable, this is also a part of the mindset you need to learn a language which I'll talk about in an upcoming blog post. Anyway, the real question to ask yourself is can you comfortably make mistakes in from of this person. At first I thought, it shouldn't matter everyone knows you're learning so of course mistakes are acceptable.
In saying that, I did come across a few people who made it know that I was making "too many" mistakes or that made me feel unable to speak, therefore not speaking at all and in turn not practicing or furthering my skills. A good way to get over this is to have someone who you can comfortably speak with, without being self conscious and allowing yourself to make that amazing progressive mistakes.
2. Someone who is also comfortable correcting you.
It's one thing for you to be comfortable with your language partner, but you must also choose someone who is willing to pull you up on those mistakes and correct you. If someone is just listening away and happy for you to make those mistakes you'll learn bad habits and spend a lot of time later down the track unlearning ingrained patterns. I learnt a language through my partner he is no trained teacher in the language so his patience and ability to not only pick up mistakes but correctly explain why they were mistakes was not a regular occurrence, and this leads me onto my next point.
3. Do they have a good knowledge of the language.
Okay so you've ticked the first two boxes and you're now both sitting and chatting away "comfortably" and you make a mistake the person tell you what the correct way of saying that is but is then unable to tell you why that is.
Having a language partner that can explain why things are a certain way will allow you to be learning the grammar of the language and apply those rules to other sentences. Sometimes things just are the way they are and thats okay, but if your language partner can explain the ruling behind it than you can put that into your arsenal and hopefully apply it to hundreds or examples and future uses. This will speed up your learning curve and stop you from making the same mistakes over and over again.
4. Someone who is dedicated to your language progression.
Finding someone who also wants you to learn the language and succeed, is key. They will share the same enthusiasm and excitement to practice the language and help encourage you when you don't feel like studying. They will have patience for all the slow going days in the beginning and should make you want to study.
You don't necessarily need to have a teacher to tick all of these boxes even if you have someone who is 2 or 3 of these things. What is important is that you have put some thought into it and find someone who makes language learning fun for you.
But I can recommend iTalki, they are a great resource to finding a teacher that matches with you and you choose how much you want to spend on your lessons. There are teachers available for all budgets.
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Happy studying :))