Free Language ExchangeSmiley face
Meet up and practice languages with people worldwide.
Find a language partner to help you learn or practice a different language in exchange for teaching them. free
English to Spanish language exchange word balloon flags
Example:
I'll teach you Spanish for 1/2 hour, if you teach me a 1/2 hour of English.
?
Click here for details
FAQ
language_partner_image

Language Exchange User Posts


Kindness is a Language
Tips For Teaching English in a Language Exchange
Sometimes we hear native English speakers who want to practice language exchange give this response: “I would do it, but I can't teach.” Even worse, sometimes you will hear someone state in plain English, “I would love to learn a second language from this person, but I have nothing to ‘exchange.’” (Um…did you just say that in English?)

While teaching someone else your native language might seem a little scary at first if you have never taught before, it’s important to remember two things: 1) the person across from you is likely going to learn a lot by interacting with you regardless of your lack of teaching experience, and 2) the most important thing is that you want to help. In fact, for anyone practicing language exchange for the first time who might be intimidated by using the word “teach,” you could just as easily use the terminology “help you learn.” It1 might be comforting to know that in all actuality, “I will help you learn English in exchange for you helping me learn your native language,” is a probably a more accurate representation.

Regardless, there is always value in learning a few pointers from those who are more experienced in language exchange and who have taught many people successfully. Here are a few suggestions from one such person. It is by no means an exhaustive list, and certainly there is no one “right way” to teach or practice English conversation, but you can use the list below as a collection of tips or as a basis that you can draw from to help foreign speakers learn.

It’s important to remember the list below does not address the difficulty that the English learner may have pronouncing the words or making the sounds, nor the fact that being understood is necessary to carry on a conversation. For the comfort level of the learner, you might consider helping him or her with the basic sounds as well, and recommending or providing a tool that he or she can use at home to practice so she/he can be understood.

Try teaching in the following order: (Introduce a little more at each lesson, while reviewing what was taught previously):

  • Hello [method(s) of greeting]:
  • How are you?:
  • Thank you:
  • Excuse me / I'm sorry:
  • Yes / No / Maybe / I don't know
  • [Basic pronouns (I, you, he, she, etc.)]:
  • [Most basic verbs - to do / to make / to speak / to learn / to study / to go / to come / to like / to love / to know / to understand (without attn to conjugation)]:
  • There are / There is / Are there? / Is there?
  • [Locative pronouns (this, that), Locative adverbs (here, there, over there)]:
  • [Question words (Where? How? Do/Does...? Why? How much? How many?)]:
  • "How do you say ...in/by [language]"


Teach prepositions, adjectives, numbers and other basics keeping in mind sentence structure and the position and role that they play
  • Expressing desire (I want to go; I want water)
  • Expressing ability and negatives (I can speak / I don't speak / I can't speak)
  • May I...? [asking permission]:
  • Commands [remember levels of politeness/formality]
  • If..., then... / Only if ..., then...
  • But / And / Or:
  • Because..., therefore...
  • For (the sake of):
  • Expressing volition (Let's go! / Let's ...!)
  • Possessives/Modifiers (my, his)/(the big mane, the man who can sing)

After this, the student will have heard enough speech to understand the basics and hopefully what sounds can be made in the language. Heve the student keep interjections in mind "Uhmmm" "Like, like" " Y'know? Y'know?" "Ouch!" "Hey!" and insert them as you say them. If they are trying to recall a word, encourage them to say "Uhhh/Uhmm" in the way you would WHILE you are thinking. In the end, conversation is not about getting it “grammatically right,” it’s about communicating. There’s a time for explaining how things work, but don’t worry about mistakes while you are practicing the actual conversation—just keep going. Then go back to explain and fix things.


Photo Credit: GLady
Photo Credit: BK
Removed white text

lrngo users in over 190 countries

English Gujarati Speakers
Gujarati-English Conversation Practice
Phone Play (Acting Conversation)

(Phone Rings)

A Hello. હેલો...?

Q Hey, how are you? હેય, હાઉવર યુ ?

A Good. ઘુડ.

Q What are you doing? વોડર યુ ડુઇન ?

A I’m cooking lunch. આય્મ ખુકીંગ લંચ.

Q What are you cooking? વોડર યુ ખુકીંગ ?

A I’m cooking biryani. આય્મ ખુકીંગ બરયાની.

Q Hey Macy’s has a big sale this weekend, do you want to go shopping? હેય, મેસીસ હેઝ અ બીઘ સેલ (સેઅલ) ધિેસ વિકેન્ડ, ડુયુવાના ગો ?

A Yeah let’s go, I also got a coupon for JC Penny. યા લેટ્સ ગો. આય ઓલ્સો ગાડઅ કુપોન ફોર જે.સી.ફેની (પેની).

Q Ok, how about meeting on Saturday? ઓખે, હાઉવબાઉટ મિડીંગ ઓન સેડડેઁ ?

A Sure. શઅર.

Q How about 2:00? હાઉવબાઉટ ટુ ઓ ક્લોક ?

A No it’s too hot then, let’s make it 4:00. નો વીટ્સ ટુ હાટ ધેન, લેટ્સ મેકીટ ફોર.

Q Ok, sounds good. Do you want me to pick you up? સાઉન્ડઝ ઘુડ. ડુયુવોં, મીટુ ફીક (પીક) યુ અપ ?

A Sure, I’ll be ready at 4. શઅર, આલબી રેડી એટ ફોર.

Q Ok, see you then. Bye. ઓખે, સી યુ ધેન. બાય.

A Bye. બાય.


Audio - American English



Photo Credit: R4vi
Photo cropped, brightness/contrast adjusted, removed flower.

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Man listing and holding a microphone
How to be Understood When You Speak English
“Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” The previous sentence is a line from the 1998 movie Rush Hour. One of the major plots in the movie is Detective Carter’s assignment to watch a detective from China named Lee. During their first meeting, Detective Carter continuously asks Detective Lee if he understands English, but does not get a response from the polite and smiling Detective Lee. Detective Carter assumes Detective Lee does not understand English, and gets frustrated over the situation.

One of the most challenging issues you may come across when you are learning to speak English (or any language) is being understood when you speak. The first thing to remember is you are not alone in your frustration, and believe it or not, even native speakers can get frustrated with this issue every now and then.

In fact, although I am a native English speaker, the word “specific” was one word I struggled with constantly. I had the spelling down pat, but the pronunciation was the culprit that was giving me a hard time. “Specific” sounded like “pacific” every time I used the word. I would use synonyms like “precise” or “particular” to avoid saying “specific at all cost, but I soon realized that avoiding problems with pronunciation only causes more problems. Practicing and facing my problem head on was the only option that would help me overcome similar issues with other words. I spent more time practicing pronunciation by separating “specific” into syllables: spe-cif-ic, recording myself, watching myself while I say it in the mirror, etc. With a bit of practice and diligence, I was able to say “specific” and other words that begin with “sp” without hesitation in no time.

As someone who is learning English, it’s no secret that you are now entering a world where you will be asked to make sounds differently than you have ever made previously in your native language. Below are some reasons why others may have a hard time understanding your words when you speak English, along with some techniques to help you solve those issues.

Reasons for Miscommunication
  • Difficulty Pronouncing Words
  • Speaking Phrases too Fast
  • Using the Wrong Word
  • Focusing on Perfection

Not Pronouncing Words Correctly
This is, of course, the most common and the most difficult issue for all those learning a second language. Similar to my past problem with the word “specific,” you may not be pronouncing your words correctly. However, unlike my situation, you may be mispronouncing them to the point where they cannot be understood. As a non-native speaker, this may be because you still need to learn to make the sounds, and some of them may be very different from what you are accustomed to. As you are likely discovering, speaking and producing the sounds and hearing (understanding and processing) the language really are two different things. Take time to really understand how to make the basic sounds that make up the English language before you start using them in words and sentences to communicate. Then look through dictionaries like the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary or New Oxford American Dictionary to study the correct phonetic spelling of a word, and you will know how to say it so you are understood. Finding your new voice in English can be hard, and skipping this important step can cause a lot of problems. Below are some examples of how adding, omitting, or replacing one letter or sound can change the entire meaning of a word.

  • Not saying soft th in clothes makes it sound like close.
  • Dog eat dog world becomes a doggy dog world when said too quickly.
  • The founder of the company becomes a flounder if you add a l.
  • He had the utmost, not upmost, respect for his parents.
  • I take a lot of things for granted, not for granite.

Speaking too Fast
One reason people may not be able to understand what you are saying is because you sound more like an auctioneer’s average speech rate of 250 to 400 words per minute when you get nervous about saying a word or phrase. The average speech rate for conversational speaking is between 120-180 wpm, and it’s perfectly acceptable to speak even slower when you are first learning a language. No one expects you to time how fast you speak, and it’s good to keep in mind how difficult it is when trying to understand a word or phrase that is spoken too quickly. So it is generally hard for people to understand what you are saying if it sounds like your words are all crammed together. Yet, it is human nature to speak faster in uncomfortable situations. This is simply a normal tendency to end your discomfort by making the words quicker to “get it over with” and “throw the ball” to the other person in the conversation.

It may be easier to translate the short conversation below visually; however, it would be more of a challenge to understand this sentence verbally at 400 wpm:

Hellohowareyou? I’mdoingwell.Iamheadingtothemalllater,wouldyouliketogowithme? Great,letsgoaroundnoon. Seeyouthen!

Using the Wrong Word
Once you learn how to make the basic sounds and you begin saying a few words and sentences, then you’re ready to practice communicating with someone who can give you feedback. (It’s best if you can find a native speaker.) Of course, it does help when you can use the correct word when speaking or it may cause confusion. A real time partner who you trust can be very helpful for keeping you on the right track, and you can find many eager practice partners here on LRNGO. If you don’t have someone to practice with, take time out each day to look through the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms and or The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, then learn and record yourself saying the words to help avoid being misunderstood when speaking. Below are three of the most common words that are often used incorrectly by native speakers:

  • Affect is a verb that means to influence something, while effect is usually a noun that means the result of something.
  • Elicit means to provoke or draw out, while illicit means illegal or prohibited.
  • Precede means to come before, while proceed means to continue or progress.
Focusing on Perfect Grammar
Believe it or not, focusing on memorization and getting every sentence perfectly “correct” rather than communicating may be the constant offender of why a person is not able to understand you. Do not focus all of your energy on correct grammar at first to the point where you are afraid to make a mistake; focus more on communicating and getting your ideas across. It’s ok if you make mistakes and don’t know perfect grammar in the beginning (native speakers often use slang, idioms or variations of traditional grammar when speaking to each other anyway), but it’s not ok if no one can understand you. The whole idea of learning and using a language is to be understood and communicate with people, right? That is what makes someone an effective speaker of English. Here is some more advice on making your problems with miscommunications a thing of the past.

Practice
Practice makes perfect; how else are you going to become an English-speaking maven unless you practice? Identify which category you fall under:
  • Make sure you learn the sounds of English so you can pronounce each syllable and say words without having trouble with pronunciation.
  • Practice slowing down if you find yourself speaking too fast.
  • Study English vocabulary to make sure you are increasing the words you can use, and practice saying them out loud. Record yourself, and make a list if needed!
  • Don’t focus too much on perfect grammar, pronunciation, and punctuation at first; focus on communicating so you are understood.

Listen carefully to Understand
Listening carefully goes hand in hand with practicing. Do not be afraid to ask the other person to slow down if you feel they are speaking too fast, or if you are having trouble comprehending some of their word choices. The goal is to communicate effectively in English.

Learn How to Pronounce and What Each Word Means
Practice communicating and being understood with a partner, and practice adding vocabulary and making the sounds of new words yourself. Record yourself, and then try the new words out with a partner regularly to get feedback. Merriam-Webster and other high quality English dictionaries and thesauri may become your best friends while you improve your fluency in English. Knowing how to make the sounds, the definition, antonyms, and synonyms, along with the correct pronunciation of specific words will increase your confidence in speaking, and you will be on your way to communicating in English fluently.

Photo Credit: randy stewart

lrngo users in over 190 countries

The word Hey on a TV monitor
Hey! A Comparison of Interjections in Multiple Languages
Ahhh...interjections! There is no better way to express your true emotions than with a good old “Wow!”, “Yippee!”, and “Whoops!” The concept of interjections always reminds me of the Schoolhouse Rock short, “Interjection.” The short was a clever and entertaining way to teach children and adults how interjections work in English. Wait, aren’t interjections the same in other languages? Let’s take a look. Below are some scenarios and common interjection responses from other languages of the world.

Scenario One

You are skipping merrily down the street when you notice a brown sack lying in a surprisingly well-light alley. The sack seems unattended and no one else seems to notice it. You walk to the sack and see a $100 bill and a note stating the sack contains $50,000! Some reactions to this discovery might be:

English: Hooray, Wow!
Dutch: Hoera, Wow!
French: Hourra, Ouah!
German: Hurra, Wow!
Italian: Hurra, Wow!
Portuguese: Hurra, Uau!
Spanish: Hurra, Guau!

What is interesting is four of the seven languages uses hurra or wow, respectively. The word hurra is used for four of the seven languages as the English word for hooray. The three languages that differ in the English translations of hooray and wow have traits in common. English, a hybrid language, has words that origins come from Dutch and French. French, Portuguese, and Spanish are known as romance languages; a language that originated from Latin.

Scenario Two

As you look in the sack, you notice that the other $100 bills do not look alike. At least each of the bills has one of the forty-three United States presidents on the front. As you stand there with a bewildered look on your face, a man dressed in yellow plaid jumps out from behind the dumpster. He informs you that you are on a new game show called “Hoodwink,” and it's being broadcast worldwide. Suddenly, four camera operators come forth and place the cameras right in front of your face. Your reaction may be:

English: Argh, Ha-ha, Oh-oh!
Dutch: Uitdrukking van walging of ergenis, Ha-ha, Oh-oh!
French: Pouah, hehehe/hihihi/hohoho, Oh-oh!
German: Igitt, Ha-ha, Oh-oh!
Italian: Expressao de nojo ou aborrecimento, Ah-ah, Oh-oh!
Portuguese: Expressao de nojo ou aborrecimento, Hue-hue, O!
Spanish: Puaj, Ja -ja, Oh-oh!
While most have a similar word structure to the English version of the word, there are a few instances where more words were used to express the interjection. Also, Oh-oh is the interjection thus far that is similar in every language above.

Scenario Three

Despite your negative or positive response from scenario two, four cameras are recording your every reaction. The host asks for your name and you reluctantly give him your name. You are so embarrassed that you are discretely moving away from the cameras and onto the street. Before you make a clean getaway, the host hands you a white envelope. You open the envelope out of curiosity and see nine legitimate $100 bills. The host gives you the $100 bill you saw in the sack and says the $1000 is a prize for being on the show. Your response may be:

English: Huh, Yipee!
Dutch: Uh, Jippie/Hoera!
French: Hou, Bravo/Hourra!
German: Huh, Jipieh/Hurra!
Italian: Uhm, Hurra!
Portuguese: Uuh, Oba/Viva!
Spanish: Uh, Viva/Hurra!

Huh is spelled differently above; however, the sound is virtually the same. The word hoera, hourra, and hurra seem to be interchangeable terms that can mean hooray or yipee.

Each scenario paints one clear picture: injections are not the same in every language. For more information on how sounds differ between languages, I recommend checking out Mr. Chapman's blog: Pictures by James Chapman. It's educational and entertaining at the same time!

Bonus content: Want to have hours of fun with your foreign language speaking friends? Compare animal sounds in both your language and theirs. Below are animal sounds in a few different languages.

Cat

English: Meow
Dutch: Miauw
French: Miaou
German: Miau
Italian: Miao
Portuguese: Miau
Spanish: Miau

Dog

English: Woof-woof, Ruff-ruff, Arf-arf, Bow-wow, Yap-yap, Yip-yip
Dutch: Blaf-blaf, Woef-woef, Waf-waf, Kef-kef
French: Wouaff-wouaff, Ouah-ouah; Whou-whou, Vaf-vaf, Jappe-jappe
German: Wuff-wuff, Vow-vow
Italian: Bau-bau; Arf-arf
Portuguese: Au-au
Spanish: Guau-guau; Gua-gua; Jau-jau

Bird

English: Tweet/Chrip
Dutch: Tjep
French: Cui
German: Ziep
Italian: Chip
Portuguese: Piu
Spanish: Pio

Pig

English: Oink
Dutch: Knor
French: Gruik
German: Grunz
Italian: Oink
Portuguese: Oink
Spanish: Oink

Sources

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/55555-or-how-to-laugh-online-in-other-languages/266175/
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/-em-huh-em-means-the-same-thing-in-every-language/281359/
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-does-a-cat-say-in-japanese-in-french-in-greek.html
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201211/how-dogs-bark-in-different-languages


Photo Credit: Kim Woodbridge

lrngo users in over 190 countries

American Flag Hanging from Wooden Wall
5 Steps to Speaking with an American Accent
Achieving and mastering a particular accent is no easy deed. In the same manner in which we are all born into a language, we are all born into a way of speaking- a certain individualistic cry to assert the fact that people come from hundreds of different places and are, in turn, diverse from one another. Now, think about this: a child grows up in Nicaragua; for the duration of his coming of age he speaks Spanish with the swish of a Caribbean melody, omitting S’s and exaggerating H’s, but suddenly he learns that in order to be better understood, and potentially move upwards in the workplace he must ditch his accent and adopt a different one. Just like that. Sounds hard doesn’t it? Abandoning the way you communicate, your norm, and learning a new accent can seem daunting, but with the following 5 steps it can be an easier task than once presumed.

First, you have to learn the sounds and hang out with American natives. This step is perhaps the most important of them all because not only will it force you to immerse yourself in their way of speech (trust me, you will unconsciously attempt to speak like them as to not be the outsider), but it will also educate you on the aspects of pronunciation. “What do you mean?” you say? Well, you’ll be able to see, up close and personal, the way in which these speakers’ mouths move when pronouncing certain vowels and/or consonants- by studying this and then mimicking the shapes formed by their mouths, the sounds they make will begin to come naturally.

Secondly, watch a lot of American movies. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. What this exercise will do (in addition to giving some insight on American culture and history) is that it will embed the sound and rhythm the American accent makes into your brain- repetition is key: if you listen to audio tapes in the car every day and watch at least a couple of movies featuring American accents a week, it will be forever stuck in your head. This works in the same sort of way that playing a song on repeat works, and everyone knows that once a song and its lyrics are printed onto the walls of your cerebellum there’s no way they’re getting erased.

Thirdly, try speaking (slowly) with the accent in front of a mirror. Before you take the plunge into practicing your accent in conversations with other people it’s important to work on your technique. Speaking slowly at first is very important, this will give you a chance to observe the way your mouth moves when enunciating and cross-examine it with the way native speakers' do. This is also a great way to build confidence; trying out a new style of speech can be intimidating, similar to trying to speak a new language, so practicing by yourself will show you that you can do it!

Fourthly, record yourself. By using a recorder you are enabling yourself to be your own critic. Having yourself on record will not only be a great way to track progress, but also to identify problem areas that need to be worked on further. When learning new things this is of great importance because you personalize your learning and focus on what you need to improve instead of blindly moving forward.

Lastly, go ahead and practice your finalized product with a group of natives. I feel the need to stress that this should be the LAST step- if you throw yourself into expert territory too soon you might feel intimidated and lose ground. This step however, is great when taken at the right time because it will enable you to truly put all your work into practice and find guidance from friends!


Photo Credit: Unsplash

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Popular User Posts