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Language Exchange User Posts

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What to Talk About in a Language Exchange
You are about to partake in a language exchange. You know you need to have some sort of structure, some sort of lesson plan, but you don’t know exactly how to go about creating one. The most important thing to keep in mind is that an unorganized language exchange is going to be unproductive. Regardless of how you choose to structure your language exchange, you should go into each language exchange with concrete idea of very specific topics and activities. Here are a few suggestions for what you can talk about during the actual language exchange.

  • Play games- This especially works well if you are in a language exchange group of more than two or three people. For example, playing a quick game of Spanish Scrabble is both a good teaching tool and a great time for bonding. Of course, you do not want to spend your entire time playing games, but it can be a great activity to mix things up.

  • Pick specific conversation topics- For example, if both you and your language exchange partner are passionate about movies, you can spend part of a session describing your favorite movies. After giving maybe a short three minute or so summary, you can answer questions about the movie that your language partner asks you, and so on and so forth.

  • Discuss what you have learned since the last session- Ideally you will have some sort of language practice besides the time you spend in your language exchange. For example, during the interim between your language exchange sessions, you could be reading up about new grammar and vocabulary topics. As part of your language exchange sessions you could then summarize to your partner what you have learned and start a conversation there. Your partner would then be in a position to help you review and recommend new topics you might be interested in.

  • Talk about events in your life- It might be a good idea to have a designated time period during your language exchange session where you and your partner are free to discuss anything you like. Was there someone’s birthday over the weekend? Talk about the preparations, the guests who attended, and how difficult it was to clean up. Is there a big holiday coming up? Talk about your plans to get together with family, your growing stress as you try to get the house ready, etc.

  • Use the “book club” approach- There are beginning books for readers of every language to practice with. Try having you and you reading partner read one of these practice books for each session. You could then each take turns summarizing what happened in the books, talking about whether you liked it or not, and responding to each other’s questions.

  • Use a pre-designed program- There are many language sites and books that have pre-made lesson plans designed for language exchange programs. Consider as many of these options as possible to find the one that will best suite you and your language partner.

  • Talk about bizarre topics- Stereotypical questions “How are you”, “how old are you”, and “How is your family today” simply will not help prepare you for more difficult topics of conversation. Consider having a “bizarre topic” to discuss during your language exchange time. For example, “In high school, where there any classes that you doodled in because you were bored?” or “What sport have you always wanted to play but never tried?”

Photo Credit: Simon Blackley

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Pok-a-tok field in Mexico
Learning Spanish Pays Off
You may not have always had the motivation to learn Spanish, but maybe after you realize the benefits of knowing this language, you’ll rethink your position.

It is safe to say that most of us want to earn more money. With the state of the economy these days, we all have to learn to adapt to a new playing field, and that sometimes means stepping out of our comfort zone and acquiring new skills. A change that has swept over the work environment is the need to “work smarter.” Companies favor employees who can wear more than one hat. An employee that saves the company from having to hire an additional person to fill a specific skill is seen as an asset by employers.

Speaking a second language is an awesome way to enhance your resume. With the Hispanic population in the United States rising, it’s no wonder that this is the second language of choice for many. Not only do you have your experience that directly relates back to the job description to back you up, but you also have the valuable skills of being able to bridge communication. You can learn Spanish and instantly have access to more work choices, and be more qualified for jobs you already have access to. Bilingual employees are important to companies these days, so those who take the initiative to learn Spanish, or another foreign language, significantly widen their playing field.

If you invest your time to learn Spanish you also become more eligible to work abroad. Many companies have branches of their businesses in Latin America needing skilled employees who are able to communicate with non-English speakers at those branches.

In the end, it never hurts to have another language on your résumé. Even if there is not a direct connection between a company and speaking Spanish, knowing that they have a team member who could handle a situation in which Spanish is necessary when it arises is a comfort, and companies are more willing to hire a multilingual applicant with the same qualifications as an applicant who only speaks a singular language.

If you want to learn Spanish, there are several ways you can proceed. Of course, you can enroll in a class, hire a tutor, or connect with a language exchange partner through LRNGO. Interacting with a native speaker in any capacity can be effective for quick progress, and is highly recommended to get the full results of learning the language. Another way to learn Spanish is through an online or interactive computer course. These well-developed courses make it easy for you to progress at your own pace, though they often come with a price tag, so be sure to do a trial round and see if the program is right for you before you invest.

Learning a second language takes discipline and commitment, but it is very rewarding for those who persevere, and can widen your job opportunities significantly, so get started, and see what knowing Spanish can do for you.

Photo Credit: Sebastien Paquet

lrngo users in over 190 countries

A sunset in HoiAn, Vietnam
How to Turn Learning Vietnamese into Knowing Vietnamese
Learning a foreign language always poses some challenges, but if your desire to learn Vietnamese is strong enough, you will master it in time. As long as you stick to the language and put sufficient practice in, your Vietnamese skills will grow. If you’re new to the process of learning, or are looking for ways to better the skills you already have, then take a look at this advice and decide which methods are right for you.

immersion—it isn’t that far-fetched

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it here: immersion is the best way to go when it comes to perfecting a new language. Obviously this is not always feasible, and that does by no means mean that knowing Vietnamese isn’t feasible, but oftentimes this option is understood as more out of reach than it actually is. Many people are not aware of the many opportunities to travel around the world through temporary volunteer and job positions.

Teaching ESL abroad is an excellent way for you to become surrounded by Vietnamese language and culture. You don’t have to have a substantial knowledge of Vietnamese to begin with, and as long as you know English and get certified (check out LRNGO’s ESL/EFL blog posts for more information on that), you will find many opportunities to teach and be taught by your surroundings.

There are also organizations that encourage the interaction of cultures through temporary stays in which you work in exchange for room and board. The work varies greatly and often does not exceed 4 hours daily, as the primary function is to bring cultures together. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is an organization that brings willing volunteers to organic farms worldwide to work and learn. Helpx is a similar site but whose work opportunities vary from bed and breakfast help to house sitting.

Hiring a Tutor

It is certainly best to have human help when it comes to language learning. A tutor can give you valuable guidance and insight on the process of learning Vietnamese, as well as form lessons around what you most need to work on. You can find a tutor by checking out local classifieds, language schools, and colleges, or by browsing Craigslist, WyzAnt, or TutorHunt for opportunities to get tutored face to face or online via video chat.

Get a Language Exchange Partner

If you’d like to have the benefits of a tutor without the price tag, do some research on language exchange partners. Of course, sites like LRNGO allow you to connect with language exchange partners near your or anywhere in the world through video chat. You teach them and they teach you, all for free—simple as that!

Step Beyond the Classroom

It’s great to have guidance by tutors or exchange partners, but it really is up to you how much you actually learn by how much outside effort you put into the process. Languages are not just textbook material, they are made alive by their usage in conversation, literature, film, etc. So pick up a book in Vietnamese or watch a film with Vietnamese subtitles (or a Vietnamese film with English subtitles), read local news, and listen to Vietnamese radio stations. Vietnamese101 is a perfect place for finding some of these materials quickly and easily.

So how do you get from learning Vietnamese to knowing it? By putting yourself out there and practicing the language to its fullest degree by living it—whether you do that in Vietnam or at home, surround yourself with opportunities to practice the language naturally and you will find that knowing Vietnamese will sneak up on you.

Photo Credit: enjosmith

lrngo users in over 190 countries

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