How to Find Language Partners
After studying French (as well as a few other languages) for well over 10 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that practicing the target language with someone is one of the most crucial aspects of language learning, yet I find most language students don’t do it nearly enough.
If your goal is to speak a language fluently, you need to spend a significant amount of time conversing in that language. There’s just no way around this and I think a lot of foreign language teachers don’t speak about this enough.
A lot of people of our followers on Instagram have told us in the past that it’s difficult to find people to practice French with, yet I personally have never really had a problem finding language partners, so I thought I would share how I would go about finding people to practice with.
I’m going to focus on my personal experience and explain I how these sites and apps worked for me. Also, this blog is not sponsored by any of the sites or apps I’m going to mention.
*Note: I’m going to mention how this applies specifically to French throughout this blog, but these principals could apply to just about any language you’re trying to learn.
What it is:
It’s a language learning app. You can use it to find native speakers to practice a language with and send messages, voice recordings, photos, etc. A great thing about it is that users are encouraged to correct each other when mistakes are made.
This is currently my favorite language learning app. I use it just about everyday and I’ve met some cool people on it. I’ve mentioned it to some of my private French students and they’ve also really enjoyed using it.
How I use it:
I scroll through the feed and find a post that looks interesting to me. I may comment of even reach out and send a message to that person. I see if we can strike up a conversation and have little chats when I have time. It’s a great way to get in some daily practice, especially if you’re pretty busy.
You could could also do a search and find people based on your interests or even where you live.
At the moment I pretty much only use Hello Talk to learn Japanese. A Japanese guy living in Paris found me on that app and asked me if I wanted to meet up and do a language exchange. We really hit it off, so now we meet up every Saturday and do 1 hour in English and 1 hour in Japanese.
What it is:
Meetup.com is a site where you can find meetups based on your interests. There are meetups for just about anything imaginable - cooking, sports, networking, etc…and of course they have foreign language meetups.
How I use it:
When I was living in Los Angeles I had a lot of fun going to French meetups. I found a group near my house and we would meet every Wednesday night. I had already studied French for about 2 years at my university, but I still wasn’t very good at speaking conversationally, so this group was exactly what I needed.
I met a couple guys there and we really hit it off, so we started meeting up during the week. We had a great time walking around, going out to restaurants, having drinks after work, just hanging out around town - all while speaking loud French wherever we went. And even though they weren’t native speakers, they spoke French way better than I did at the time and they taught me so much!
*Note: If you live in a smaller city, you might have trouble finding a French meetup to attend, but you could always start your own! All you would need is to find a cafe or bar where you could host your event (a lot of places would be willing to do this, all you have to do is ask!) put up flyers and see who turns up.
What it is:
Couchsurfing.com is a site where people can meet travelers and you could even invite them to spend a few nights at your place. You could also spend the night at a local’s place while you’re traveling!
It sounds kind of weird in theory, but I promise it’s a lot less strange in practice. There’s a reference system so you could see how many people someone has hung out with in the past and these people then vouch for them so it’s kind of like meeting a friend of a friend. They also have events and they’re great places to meet French speakers!
How I use it:
I actually met Maïa (the other half of StreetFrench.org) on this site. I was going to Paris in 2013 and a month or so before my trip I sent a message to about 50 people asking them if they’d like to show me around the city. A few of them said yes but Maïa was the only person I actually met up with. We met up several times during my stay, she showed me around Paris, and I got to practice my French a bit during my trip.
But I had actually been using couch surfing for a couple years before that. I used to search for French people in my area and send them messages to see if we could strike up a conversation. One day, I started talking to a girl who was visiting LA and we really got along. We didn’t get to meet up while she was there, but we stayed in touch and we would talk almost every day for about 2 years.
I would send each other messages and I would write in French while she would write in English and we would each correct each other. Eventually we started talking on Skype maybe once a week or so and it was great! We both learned a lot from each other!
After 2 years of talking, I finally met her in France and even stayed over at her place and met her family! It’s crazy to think how a message on couch surfing could lead to something like that.
I’ve met a ton of people on this site over the years and I’ve never really had a bad experience, but you should always be careful and use discretion when interacting with people online and meeting them in person.
We also have a Facebook group where you can meet French speakers online and practice!
All you have to do is join the group, but make sure you answer all of the required questions before joining, otherwise we may deny your request. This helps us keep our group free from spammers.
We also have a discord chat.
Here are a few other ways that I know of, though I’ve never used them myself.
It’s a language learning app
It’s a site where you can find language partners. It’s kind of like finding a pen pal.
Putting up flyers
Make some flyers (something colorful could catch someone’s eye a bit better) and put them up around town. Cafés, the library, or your local college or university are all great places to try!
It might take some persistence and even a bit of courage to find someone to practice with, but it’s well worth the effort! And who knows, you might end up making a friend for life.
Once you find someone, make sure you check out this blog I wrote about practicing with language partners. It’s full of great tips that will help facilitate your language adventure.