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How to meet English speakers for language exchange [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2008-4-8 20:42:22 |Display all floors
Talking with English speakers, either in person or through the internet, is the best way to improve your language skills. But it can be quite difficult to find someone to practise your English with. What you need is a stable language exchange partner who's willing to devote some time into it, and those are scarce. So here are some tips:

Search actively
There are quite some English speakers on this forum, so posting a message here is a good start. But there are a lot less English speakers than Chinese people here, and each of us can only maintain a few language contacts (I have about 4 active contacts now and that's really the maximum, I can't devote time to more contacts). So you also have to search at other places where the percentage of English speakers is bigger.

A place to start can be the UniLang forum (, which is devoted to language diversity and language learning. There are people from a great number of countries there, so it's also a good place to search for speakers of other languages than English.

It's even better to search for a more specific forum. For any hobby, interest or profession you can find a specialized forum in English. If you're interested in science or you're a professional scientist, try out or a forum devoted to the specific field of science that you're interested in. If you like creating art, try a website like If you play guitar, search for a guitar forum. Young people may like Etc, the list is endless. At many of those websites and forums you'll be one of the first Chinese people, and westerners will be very curious about you and eager to get to know you.

Offer something in return
Most people will gladly help you out with a specific language question, but if you want to make a strong and longterm contact then you'll need to offer something in return. It's perfect if you meet an English speaker who wants to learn Mandarin (or Cantonese if that's your native language), then you can make it an equal exchange of language and both benefit from it. But the number of Chinese people who want to learn English is bigger than the number of English speakers who want to learn Mandarin, so it may be hard to find such a contact. So think about what you can offer: if you play guitar well then you can give tips and ideas to an English speaker who's learning to play guitar; if you're good at photography then you can talk with a beginning photographer (photography is a very popular hobby in western countries, for example try Ofcourse you don't have to start making the school homework of some spoilt western kid or so But think about how to make it an equal exchange that's beneficial for both sides.

Make it a real friendship
To have a longterm contact you should try to develop some friendship. When the English speaker has the feeling that you're only interested in his language skills, not in him/her personally, then he/she may not be motivated to continue. We're not walking dictionaries Someone who visited Shanghai told me that a lot of people wanted to speak English with him, but he had the feeling that many of them weren't really interested in getting to know him. So try to have real conversations, even if your level of English isn't very developped yet you can still show the other person that you're interested in getting to know eachother and maybe to become friends. Most westerners are in China on vacation so they want to have fun instead of making language exercises, but practising English and having fun can be combined.

Don't make your demands too high
Many English learners specifically ask for a native speaker with a standard accent, but those are actually quite rare. About half of the people you'll meet on the internet or in real life are not native speakers and have learned English as a second language just like you (for example I'm not a native speaker myself). They often have an accent and in written language they may occasionally make a spelling or grammar mistake. But non-native speakers of English are still able to help you a lot, maybe even more than a native speaker because they know what it's like to learn English as a foreign language. And besides, most native speakers of English have an accent as well, very few really speak the 'standard dialect' that is most common on television. Learning to understand common dialects of English is an important part of the learning process.

Good luck, I hope you'll succeed!

btw, just to make sure: at the moment I can't maintain more language contacts myself, I'm sorry..

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Post time 2008-5-31 18:32:24 |Display all floors


I'm a student of East China Normal University. Being fond of  English I chose it as  my second major .
I find that  in English you guys always  write "I" in  captalization, but "you" or "he" are written in  minuscule  (beside on internet sometimes ).:)
does this means in eglish speaking countries people are  a little more self-centered or others. I'm just confused by     the small difference .

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Post time 2009-8-3 07:02:06 |Display all floors

"I", you, and me...

You should not be so fast to judge... "I", when written alone, must be capitalized, it is how the English language is - it's is not a personal choice by anyone...  Also, I would love to help someone learn English while they help me learn Mandarin, except this website seems to trash talk the USA a whole lot... It's a shame...

[ Last edited by usabilly at 2009-8-3 07:11 AM ]

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Post time 2009-9-8 15:20:34 |Display all floors


Originally posted by usabilly at 2009-8-3 07:02
You should not be so fast to judge... "I", when written alone, must be capitalized, it is how the English language is - it's is not a personal choice by anyone...  Also, I would love to h ...

if you wanto to learn Mandarin, I can help you. MSN:

we can exchang language

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