It would be a wonderful world if travel were free and language learners could take extravagant vacations to foreign language-speaking countries, spending all day interacting with native speakers and learning new words and phrases. Unfortunately, we live in a reality where school, work, money, and other responsibilities make that dream a bit far-fetched. But if we language learners are confined to our hometowns, how are we supposed to be social in our language-learning regimens? How are we supposed to connect with native speakers?
Luckily, with the advent of new technology, there are plenty of ways that you can connect both with native speakers and with like-minded language learners who are as excited about learning new languages as you are. By taking advantage of these resources, you can make new friends, improve your conversation skills, refuel your motivation, and discover new language-learning tips and tricks – all without even leaving your home! Here’s how:
1. Find a conversation buddy
Image via Intel Free Press / Wikipedia
When traveling to a foreign country isn’t an option, the next best choice is participating in language exchanges, which have recently skyrocketed in popularity. The idea is simple: native speakers of various languages join one central hub, and then can connect with speakers of the languages they want to learn, enabling both parties to help each other achieve their language-learning goals.
Most language exchange websites are loaded with extras, such as voice and video chats. And best of all, many of them are completely free! Check out some suggestions for the top language exchange websites. Ultimately, language exchanges can help you not just improve your language skills, but forge new and valuable friendships, too.
2. Follow language interest blogs
The Internet is abuzz with language learners, and the polyglot community is particularly tight-knit. Check out language interest blogs, such as Lingholic and Languages Around The Globe, written by and for like-minded language learners. You’ll find a host of useful articles filled with actionable language-learning tips that can take your skills to the next level.
These bloggers not only share your passion for language, but are also incredibly friendly and welcoming. So the next time you’re browsing excellent blogs like The Polyglotist or Lindsay Does Languages, don’t be shy – drop them a comment!
3. Go to local meetups – or create your own
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a major city, you’ll find that websites like Meetup have local groups where you can connect with fellow language learners in your area. Often times, native speakers attend these events as well, giving you a chance to practice your skills with true professionals.
But if there aren’t any foreign-language meetups in your area, try creating your own! You’d be surprised how many eager language learners are out there.
4. Make an account with language-learning social media
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a separate Facebook for language learners, with your annoying friends from elementary school replaced by polyglots from all over the world? If this sounds ideal to you, you’re in luck: it already exists!
Websites like Speaky and Tandem take the language exchange concept to the next level, creating entire social networks that allow language learners to connect with each other in a deeper and more involved way. If you’re already connected with social media, consider adding one of these networks to your roster: it’ll surely be more productive than scrolling through your Facebook news feed!
5. Play games
Image via NIH / Wikipedia
The best way to learn something is to have fun while doing it. That’s why playing games is such a great way to learn language. The language games that Games for Language and Kloo offers are specifically designed to improve your language skills, all while having a great time.
What if there’s nobody in your immediate vicinity to play with? Fear not: websites like Parleremo allow you to learn about languages and cultures in a fun and engaging way, all while connecting with fellow language learners across the globe.
So even if you can’t take a year off to travel from country to country picking up their native language, there are still plenty of ways that you can get social with your language learning regimen. Ultimately, connecting with other people is a sure-fire way to make your language learning journey much more productive and – most importantly – more enjoyable.
Paul is an English teacher in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He writes on behalf of Language Trainers, a language tutoring service offering personalized course packages to individuals and groups. You can check out their free language level tests and other resources on their website. Feel free to visit their Facebook page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.