When using language exchange applications or websites, we tend to try to find the ideal language partner and stick with him/her to help each other practicing. But if you restrict yourself to just find THE single, ideal partner, you will loose all the benefits that such apps can offer. Let’s discuss the benefits and drawbacks or having a single or multiple language partners.
The first drawback will be about your mindset. Because you want to find in the first place, the ideal partner with whom you want to build a life-long friendship, your expectation will also get higher. Sometime, the higher the expectation, the higher the disappointment. Because of that, when you get a slow reply, you might feel irritated or just gradually loose the motivation to keep practicing.
Your partner won’t be always available neither. In addition, if they live on the other side of the globe, the time difference will make it even more difficult to communicate and to keep practicing at a regular pace. In other words, your opportunity to practice will be limited by your partner’s availability. ⏱
So even though you manage to find a language partner with whom you can get along with, don’t stop here.
If you only have a single language exchange partner, your language learning will be greatly influenced by that person’s way of talking, writing and accent. Having a single language partner is like using the same lifting machine at the gym: you get used to it, and you won’t really improve your overall adaptation to diverse situations, due to the lack of exposure to different voice intonation, voice articulation, speaking speed, jargon used and so on.
You might also eventually run out of topics, especially for online interaction: we tend to find it more difficult to start and keep a conversation going on online than doing so on face to face offline.
However, the good thing is that we get to know deeply the person, provided that the exchange can keep going on.
You can also skip the first (usually dull and boring) repetitive part where you get to introduce yourself, talk about your hobbies, what you do for a living for already 100 times.
In addition, having a single partner can help to track each other’s progress, and you can focus on improving a specific area.
Having multiple people to talk to and practice with make the whole learning journey much more funnier. You get to discover different motives behind each person that get them to start learning your language.
Some just want to be able to understand Japanese so they can watch an anime episode without subtitle, and some dreams about volunteering in that country to help local people, or some want just to understand the lyrics of a foreign song and some people are preparing to move to another country because of their job and some just want to get by when visiting a country.
Regardless of their motive, I always find that interesting to know what get them started, their aspiration, what they want to achieve by learning that language and their way of thinking or just broaden your horizon by talking to different people. By seeing others learning your own language, you get to know it better too! As a French, I’d never thought that French was that difficult to master especially the conjugation and the pronunciation! 😂
Obviously, having multiple language exchange partners helps to commit to a regular practice. In general, if you talk to people from different countries, the time difference will also be covered across the day, so that whenever you use the app, you will always have someone’s reply or to talk to.
You won’t be limited by one single person’s availability, and believe me, having your message get replied every time you open the app, helps tremendously to keep the motivation up. It’s like having an accountability buddy that you can count on to check that you’re proactively trying to improve your language skill.
If you attend online or offline English, Japanese or whatever language lessons, a good milestone is to completely get rid of those paid lessons and instead commit to practice using language exchange apps. A language is an (almost) innate ability that one’s should be able to mutually share to the world for free.
Although there are a lot of benefits of having multiple language exchange partners, you also have to initiate those conversations and patiently wait for a reply. This includes having to do things like introducing (again) yourself, talking about some basic stuffs like hobbies, job etc…
But with time, the more you do that, the more it will become second nature, and you get to also master it perfectly and adding more spice to your icebreaker lines.
There isn’t a precise number, but having 3~4 is a good start. The goal is to (almost) never have to wait for someone’s reply the next time you connect to the app and always be active with others that are available or having someone to interact with.
You will never run out of chance to practice and you will feel a real sense of commitment: everytime I connect to the app (like SewaYou), I know that I will be able to practice. The app should be the place where you put into usage your hard learned skills from other material like books, YouTube videos, podcast etc…
Also, do not fall into the trap to copy paste your first message to everyone and pray that they will answer you.
For god’s sake, customize at least your first message to fit your counterpart description, bio or hobbies or whatever common point so you have a common ground to start the conversation. A first line like: “I can help you in English, can you please teach me Japanese?” doesn’t bring you anywhere, you might get a reply, but usually the conversation won’t last long before you get ghosted.
This kind of message smells the lazy copy-pasted message, and personally, I will ignore whoever sent that message. The person doesn’t even take the time to read my bio, or try to find a topic to start with, and just hope that we’ll do the job for them. What kind of reply do you expect after that question? Hello, yeah sure… nothing can get really started, it’s boring, zero dynamism 🤨
Have a genuine interest in knowing your language exchange partner: we live in a world where we just throw multiple darts at the same time and hope that one hits the bullseye. A relationship, be it online or offline, is something that you need to nurture, be patience, it takes time for two strangers to become friends (or at least just pure language exchange partners trying to improve one’s own language skill), and do not give up.
Amongst the countless number of language exchange apps that appear every week or so, we couldn’t help but recommend our app SewaYou, a community with serious learners trying to improve both their skills and get connected with people around the globe by using directly an interactive map 🌏
The app is focusing on getting two persons to meet and practice in real-life, because nothing can emulate an in-person language exchange experience when it comes to learn about someone’s culture and improving your speaking skill.
Give it a try! 🤓