I get this complaint from my students all the time: "Sir, we're having fun in our English classes and all, but is there any way we could find like an everyday conversation partner to talk English with outside of class? That would be so cool!"
Well, let me tell you: I hear you, my dear students!
Being that most of my students (and you, I'm guessing) spend most of their time online anyways, I thought I'd write a post about how (and where) to find a good conversation partner online who can join and help you out on your English language learning journey. So, let's get started.
Should 'You' Look for a Conversation Partner?
The big question: should you even consider finding a conversation partner to practice your English with? Well, no one can't tell you that you shouldn't, honestly. Proficiency levels aside, the truth is that every single one of us is in dire need of good conversation practice, especially if English is not our first language. The bigger question is...
Are you able to find a conversation partner but maintain contact with them for a longer period of time, without 'quitting' halfway?
Now, if the answer to this question is a resounding YES, then please continue reading this article. We've got so much more to cover, from people to places to smiley faces!
Who Should You Look For?
A good speaker. Most learners prefer to find a conversation partner who is at a higher proficiency level, or ideally, a native speaker. You can 'tailor' your speech to theirs, absorb their accent, and notice words you say incorrectly more easily. However, manage your expectations, as finding someone like this is, indeed, tricky.
A motivated speaker. Even if you find someone whose proficiency level is closer to (or even lower than) yours, they might still be a great fit for what you're trying to accomplish. The reason: you share the same goals. You can motivate each other, notice and correct each other's mistakes, and advance together.
A committed speaker. Most importantly, your conversation partner should be able to commit, regardless of their proficiency level. If you can't maintain a healthy schedule of interactions for at least three months (if not more), then the whole thing is dead in the water. Make sure you find a partner who can manage expectations.
Where 'Can' You Find a Conversation Partner?
Before digging deeper, I want you to understand one thing: finding a conversation partner online is a lot different than doing so in person. These are facts.
Just think about it: you can always ask a classmate or your best friend to create 'a thing' that only you two would share, e.g. make a pact to only speak in English for the next few months, including chatting via social media and even among other people.
Please remember: if none of the following work, just ask a friend or a family member in person to be your conversation partner. Where there's will, there's a way!
Visit Language Exchange Sites
If you're familiar with the term 'pen pal', then consider this the online version of that. Finding someone from a foreign country to chat with (and nothing more) was a huge thing back in the day. Teachers loved the idea of 'language exchange', for good reason.
Language exchange helps you to use English on a regular basis with other learners who are trying to improve just as much as you do.
It turns out there are sites like My Language Exchange, Language.Exchange, Speaky, and many more out there today that allow you to connect with conversation partners in the world and practice English (and other languages) with them, for free!
P.S. Having a pen pal has always been so underrated! I genuinely wish I had one!
Post an Ad
Chances are your next conversation partner is out there in the world right now, wandering the world of Internet, not knowing how to find their ideal partner. Well, why not bring the party to them?
Advertise your 'search for a partner' who shares the same goal as you.
By posting ads or forum posts on high-traffic sites such as Upwork, Reddit, MeetUp, and various language forums, you can increase your chances of getting noticed. Honestly, you can never know what the ideal online location of 'English conversation partners' is, so the more places you search in, the better.
Join Facebook Groups
Taking it a step further, why not actually go where the party is? On Facebook, you can find hundreds of groups (private or public) aimed at fostering language exchange and helping others improve their foreign language proficiency.
Your goal: find and join groups related to English language learning and go 'partner hunting'.
Speechling's Facebook community group is a great example of language exchange via social media. It even advertises the whole 'conversation partner' concept, as everyone who joins is essentially part of one global, multi-lingual community whose sole purpose is to help its members learn foreign languages better. Check it out!
Storm through Social Media
This one probably seems the easiest to do but it may be the hardest one. A great way to find on friends and like-minded individuals, in general, is by being engaged on social media through comments, likes, and shares. This gives you a chance to always be in the mix and get noticed by someone who thinks just like you. In terms of finding your English conversation partner, my advice is:
Engage with others in the comment section and ask them to partner up.
It's as simple as that. It won't be long before a good comment of yours gains some attention and people start to respond to it. While they do so, you can 'filter out' the good from the bad and see if there are any potential winners in there who you might ask to become your conversation partner. After that, it's just written messages and texting, video calls, story sharing, etc. Give it a go!
Now, go! Finders, keepers!
Browse the web, start posting ads, and find your next English conversation partner! It might be a while before you find the right one but once you do, I'm sure your language learning journey is going to be that much more fulfilling!
Until next time, happy partner search! Stay learning, everyone!