Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Language Learning Tips and Tricks: Tip 7

Connect with someone who has good level of your target language, native speaker ideally

Yep, let's communicate! After all this is the main purpose of speaking any language, isn't it? So, let the real challenge begin!


If you don't know anyone personally who is willing to stay in touch you can connect with someone specifically for learning a foreign language. There are websites where you can find a suitable language partner for yourself italki being an example.

You can exchange messages with your language partner on this website or stay in touch via Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype etc. Just choose what works for you and your foreign friend.

I would keep in mind though that ideally you need to practise all three forms of communication, i.e. by email, instant messaging and speaking.

With emails it is effectively writing that you will be practising while instant messaging is obviously quite different as it's very often real time communication, so speed is vital. Also, nobody expects you to send big chunks of text, so brevity and lightness are important. Hence abbreviations and onomatopoeic words are often used.

And of course speaking is completely different and I would say the most difficult of these three. No wonder people often go numb when they have to speak a foreign language. When I first came to England with my upper-intermediate (!) level of English, my only way of communication for a couple of days was a stupid grin. Words came out of my mouth at last after a lady in a shop attempted sign language thinking I was deaf.

You might be thinking that I am exaggerating to make you giggle. Ok, let me paint a picture. Imagine you are an inexperienced lady driver trying to park into a tight spot in your Peugeot and a guy in a Ferrari is waiting for you to clear out of the way. He is watching you like a hawk. Or at least that's what you feel with every inch of you skin which is starting to perspire. Oh, the number of awkward moves you make before you actually get there! If you do at all! So, for those who didn't get it - the guy in the Ferrari is a native speaker while a lady parking like a teddy bear is you, poor language learner! And sorry for being a bit sexist, we all know that women are best drivers, don’t we ;)?

So, before you actually attempt speaking to a foreigner, i.e. put yourself in a situation where your poor brain will need to figure out not only how to say something but primarily what to say, you might want to practise speaking to...yourself. Sounds creepy but it works!

Discuss anything you like with your best buddy (yourself), just make sure your family or flatmates know that you are on a language learning mission otherwise they might think you have gone a bit cuckoo.

When you think you are ready, start looking for that perfect language partner of yours!

A good thing about italki is that it connects people who want to learn languages in tandem, so while you practise German your German language partner masters their French, i.e. your native language. Sehr einfach!

Also, when choosing a language partner, make sure you have things in common to talk about. Or not. Now let me explain with an example.

Say, you are a stay at home parent looking after a cute little sweetie pie baby who, once tired, is louder than an alarm clock which goes off on a Sunday morning when you have I-don't-remember-how-many-shots-I-had kind of hangover. So, you have just managed to calm down and put the little monster to bed. Do you want to talk about babies, how parenthood is a bliss and share 199 photos of your cutie pie on Instagram?

Well, if the answer is 'yes' then you might want to find another stay at home parent to discuss the joys of parenthood, swapping pictures of your little ones yawning, smiling, pooping and what not.

But if the answer is 'no' then you might want to find someone else who knows nothing about nappies and dummies and will tell you all about yodeling with such overpowering enthusiasm that you yourself will be yodeling up in the snowy Alps with your little one a couple of years later, casually throwing in yodeling terms into conversations about yodeling in German with your new yodeling fans friends.

So, these are all the tips and tricks I wanted to share with you for now.

Well, actually there is one more in conclusion:

even if it's difficult at times and looks like you are not making any progress whatsoever, never give up learning a foreign language. You will get there in the end so keep calm and carry on!

You have surely found what works well for you too so feel free to share your expertise and drop a comment with your tips and/or tricks below. Happy learning!

You might also like other tips and tricks:

Tip 1. Choose a good and fun study book

Tip 2. Get a good self study grammar book

Tip 3. Get some fiction books you would love to read

Tip 4. Choose some non-fiction read including newspapers

Tip 5. Choose some movies, TV series and comedy shows you would love to watch

Tip 6. Get some of your favourite songs with lyrics

Pressed for time and cannot read it all? Check out our slides with these tips and tricks.

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