i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Adult English

Learning Through Language Exchange

Have you ever felt inspired to learn a new language? If you’re like most people, maybe you downloaded an app like Duolingo and made great progress at memorising vocabulary … for about a week. The hardest part about language learning is finding the motivation to persist and building up enough confidence to converse with others. That’s where language exchange comes in.

In language exchange, you partner up with someone who is a native or fluent speaker of the language you want to learn, and practise that language with them, either verbally or through writing. In turn, you help them improve their target language.

There are many advantages to language exchange:

  • We can use the language more authentically. While language courses focus on grammatical accuracy and building vocabulary, language exchange gives us the opportunity to learn slang, idioms, and colloquial expressions.
  • It helps build confidence as there is no fear of embarrassing oneself in front of a big group. In language exchange, there’s no person who is the ‘teacher’; instead, both people are learning from each other. This creates a safe environment where people feel comfortable to make mistakes.
  • We are more motivated to keep learning because we have built relationships with our language partners. Talking about things that interest us prompts us to learn new vocabulary in order to fully express ourselves.

I personally use language exchange to work on my German. Once I stopped taking German courses in university, it was hard to keep up the language by myself. Fortunately, I discovered an app called Slowly, through which people around the world write letters to each other. I found some fellow German learners who were willing to exchange letters in German, and it has been great practising my German on a regular basis.

There are many avenues to conduct language exchange, and it’s definitely something that can benefit everyone’s language learning!