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Getting the most out of Skype language partners

January 17, 2018

Here are some of my top tips to get the most out of your Skype language partner experience. There are a lot of websites that can help you get in touch with people all over the world that want to exchange languages over the internet. The best thing to do is set up a Skype account, and get your language partners to add you on there. You can make a separate account just for your Skype, and have multiple accounts on the various websites. 


Profile: Give as much information about your language learning style and goals, as well as basic information about yourself including a photo. If other people understand a lot about you then they will be able to judge if they want to talk to you. If they don't want to talk to someone like you, then its better that they never contact you. For example, if you are very focused on your pronunciation and want someone who can repeat words and sentences many times so that you can get the sentence stress, then not everyone will be a good partner. Some people just want to chat about random topics with no language focus.


Same Gender: If you want to get really excellent results then it is generally best to choose someone who is of the same gender. It ensures that there is no potential of romance which, while uncommon, is what some people may look for. Even though there is very little chance of meeting a partner like this, it is just a common reaction when two people are attracted to each other to focus more on the personality and less on the language.


Set ground rules: Be clear with your language partner about exactly what you want, and generally it is best to agree on how long you will spend focusing on each language, for example 15 minutes of English followed by 15 minutes of Chinese time. Generally the weaker language learner will get tired more quickly, so let them go first.


Be Generous: You will really appreciate it when people give you additional knowledge and tips, correct mistakes and offer explanations. If you want others to put effort into helping you with you English you have to put effort into genuinely helping them with theirs. You have to ask yourself, would you want to do language with yourself if you were one of your partners? If the answer isn't a big yes, then that's probably why people seem to be busy whenever you ask.


Be flexible with your time: There are usually time zone differences, and people usually have a lot of things happening in their life. Don't get upset if someone doesn't come online when you said you would. It's easier to set aside three hours in the evening where you have your Skype on, and see who is online, and just see if they happen to be available at that time. When you have more than 10 language partners you can be sure that someone will be available. It's generally good to have private and language learning accounts separate, every time you use that account you are ready for an exchange. You can turn on your Skype and message the people who are online as well. If no one is available tell them when you will be online until, and start looking at some vocabulary in preparation. If no-one comes online then get back on the websites to find more partners.




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