Language exchange is a mutually beneficial way of language learning – How does it work
Language exchange is a mutually beneficial way of language learning. Two different language learners learn each other’s mother tongue to improve each other’s language proficiency together. For example, if a Chinese person wants to learn English and an American wants to learn Chinese today, they can practice each other’s target language through language exchange.
The problems of our English language Learning
I have observed that the language learning problem of Chinese people is not that we don’t learn enough English, but that we have been learning English in the wrong way. Our purpose of learning English is only to get high scores in exams, not to be able to speak English. As a result, we have studied English for more than ten years, but I still can’t speak a word.
I often compare our English learning as if we have been depositing money in the bank without using it. Of course, if your English bank account is empty, you still have to find ways to deposit things in, before you can figure out how to withdraw the money and use it; but most people are actually rich men in English banks, but they are Can’t find an ATM to withdraw money.
Many people want to improve their oral English skills, and they want to practice through “language exchange”. I really admire the practice of speaking through language exchange, or rather, I admire this way of direct interaction with people to practice speaking, because I have benefited a lot from it myself.
Although my language exchange experience is not too rich, but after deducting those monsters with impure mentality, and trying a few times that do not fit the tone, there are also 3 long-term stable exchanges, more than half a year, I will meet once or twice every week.
I found that the focus of language exchange is not language, but the sharing of life experience and the exchange of ideas, which is a good training to think outside the frame. When I exchanged languages with friends from different countries, I seemed to have a trip to the other country in that hour!
For me, language exchange is no longer training in spoken English, but training in English expression skills, thinking in English, and in-depth discussion of a topic in English. What it trains is not speaking English, but the way of thinking.
Suggestions for Language exchange
1. Confirm that the other party has interest to learning Chinese
Interest is the primary reason to learn a language like Chinese language and the only reason for a person to study for long term, most of the learners are interested in Chinese culture, and they found the content of Chinese courses is very interesting. They choose Chinese courses basically because of their interest, because of the Chinese language itself. It is our intrinsic motivation that we must make full use of the fun of learning Chinese. This also tells us that Chinese lessons design for foreigners must pay attention to fun and adopt fun teaching methods.
Only in this way can we meet the fun pursuit of students and attract them to do language exchange with us in a long run.
2. No need to try for life
In fact, it is very important that language exchanges are in harmony. Although there are many suggestions here, it is really not easy to find a harmony. If you find a language exchange partner who meets the conditions on the Internet, you don’t need to rush to establish a long-term language exchange relationship with the other party. You should make an appointment first and have a chat with each other. It’s okay to refuse the other party. You don’t have to put too much pressure on yourself and you have to try for a lifetime. Try more to know what suits you.
3. It is best to understand Chinese Pinyin
Chinese Pinyin is the pinyin system in mainland China, and it is also the pinyin system used by most foreigners to learn Chinese. Hong Kong language centers usually teach Pinyin at the beginning (some only teach Pinyin), and then students choose the system they want to learn. Although many language centers are serious about promoting a broad and profound phonetic system, most of the students end up still Will choose Chinese Pinyin.
Knowing Hanyu Pinyin will make the language exchange process less obstructive! Many foreign students studying Chinese may not recognize a few Chinese characters, but they can write sentences in pinyin! When you have a new word in the chat, in addition to writing Chinese characters to the other party, if you can supplement it with Chinese pinyin, it will be of great help to foreigners.
4. Time allocation must be clearly defined
Regardless of the level of the two parties, no matter how many times a week they meet and how long they exchange, language exchange is actually a reciprocal process, so the time between the two languages must be distributed fairly.
During the English-speaking period, it is all in English, and during the Chinese-speaking period, it is all in Chinese. This way, you can avoid talking to the end, all communicating in the same language. This situation is especially likely to occur when the language level of the two parties is very different: your English is already advanced, and the other party’s Chinese is beginner. If the time is not well defined, it is easy to use English to chat.
5. Try to find language exchange partners who are as close to each other as possible
Finding a language exchange partner of the same level as yourself, besides avoiding to use a strong language to chat in the end, the problems encountered by both parties in language learning will be more similar, and the exchange will be fairer. What’s fair is that I don’t have to try my best to explain a lot of words and grammar to you every time I come, and do a lot of preparation work, but you just have to come and chat with me.
If you are looking for a language exchange, how should the level of the other party be better?
In fact, all are good, each has its own way of proceeding. But to exchange newbies in language, I would recommend looking for foreigners who already have a certain foundation and can communicate in Chinese briefly (probably above intermediate level).
6. Beginners are advised to prepare a set of teaching materials and follow the progress
If both of you happen to be language beginners, the language exchange mode I suggest is to have a fixed textbook and follow the progress of the textbook. The language exchange between me and my friend is that both are beginners in each other’s native languages. We follow the text every time we meet. He used “Practical Audiovisual Chinese 2” and I used a book in English. Here comes the friend’s grammar book written. With the book, we can follow the book from the simple to gradually deepen the degree. It just so happens that both of our second foreign languages are English, and the level is good, so we can explain vocabulary and grammar in English, so there won’t be too many problems.
7. Let language learners speak more
Because we are not each other’s teachers, but only language exchange partners, the focus is on more practice, not on one-way teaching. Take the Sino-English language exchange as an example. During Chinese time, I will try my best to play the role of the listener and let the other party dominate the conversation. I mostly ask questions and let the other party express his opinions in Chinese. If the other party is stuck, I will intervene in teaching, tell him new words that he doesn’t know, or tell him how I would say this sentence if it were me. The reverse is also true. In your English time, try to force yourself to speak more, instead of listening to the other person and acting as a response bug.
Language exchange is not only training the ability to speak English, but also the ability to think in a second foreign language.
Before we had the habit of speaking English, it was difficult for us to have in-depth conversations with foreign friends on the same topic, because our heads were still Chinese. When we first practice thinking in English, we tend to search for “what we can say” rather than “what we want to say” in our mind. So I often talk about one part of the topic and the other part of the conversation. Every topic is not painful or itchy. It is said that I can talk about it in the first place. There is no way to extend the discussion on the same topic, because that is the part that we are not familiar with, it is not. Because we don’t know how to speak, because we are not used to chatting with people in English.
8.Try to use English to tell foreign friends about things you are already familiar with
Talk about yourself, things about China, and things you are familiar with in English time, and you will find that what you are familiar with will become unfamiliar. You will find that everything you were accustomed to will become very strange because of the questions you ask people from different cultures. You will start to see China again, through the eyes of foreign friends. Then think about how to tell him the story of China.
Let yourself become a window for foreigners to know China, and then see a different China from their eyes. This is why I think that language exchange is not just a language exchange, but a good exercise for the exchange of ideas and training oneself to think outside the original framework.