9 Unexpected Places To Find Real-Life Language Partners

How cool would it be if you could find real life language lovers to meet up with, learn languages together, perhaps even go to class or see a show in another language? Heck yes!

In this article, get few practical tips to help you reach out and connect with your new language squad IRL.

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What's The Secret To The Greatest Language Exchange Ever?

The most rewarding way of practicing your language is by connecting with people on a 1-to-1 basis. It takes commitment to make any language exchange successful.


In this episode of the Fluent Show, Lindsay and I brought on language exchange expert Jonathan Huggins, who runs several community challenges and groups for language learners.

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What's "Eye Candy" in Spanish? 32 Authentic Slang Expressions from Mexico

¡Oye! Spanish learner!

If you want to sound cool and know more about where the most typical slang expressions in your target language come from, today's article is going to give you a language boost that you can take straight to Mexico. Check out these 32 slang expressions, beautifully explained by guest poster Raúl Jiménez.

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Network Your Way to Better Language Skills and a Better Life

This post is a guest article from Tim Wenger, and I was bowled over by his motivating and positive attitudes about networking. We often hear how this can benefit people in their career, but have you ever thought to use your network by mentioning languages in the same way? Tim has some awesome tips here.

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Language Practice: Why You Don't Need A Native Speaker

language learning

The native speaker is often considered an absolute holy grail of language learning: They naturally know how language is used, they speak it perfectly and of course you will be immersed in your target language if you speak to one. But today, I'm writing to make you re-think your dependence!

Have you ever found one of the following problems when practicing with a native speaker:

  • It's difficult to understand regional accents
  • You ask them a question, and they respond with "it just is like this"
  • They always want to practice your language with you
  • You run out of topics after a few hours of discussing family, hobbies and weather

What if you have NO native speaker to talk to? Does that mean you will stop learning a language?

Why You Do Not Need A Native Speaker For Practice

In this blog, I'm not advocating that you avoid native level input and natural sources of your target language. They are what makes it come alive! By all means, make full use of Italki, social media and your own network to find a good language buddy, but please note the following:

You don't actually need a native speaker to practice with. This is so important to understand. You just need someone who's good enough or a little better than you. Sometimes it even helps not to have the native speaker, because a non-native speaker has learnt your target language too and can explain grammar and other problems more easily. Natives often don't even know which bits are hard for non-native speakers.

Why Practicing Online Isn't For Everyone

In addition to this point, some people just don't connect so well with the Skype or phone communication method. As an online language tutor, I work on Skype all the time, and it's a different to meeting in person - some of my students love it, some find it odd at the start. For some, I can just tell that it's not the right medium. So if you're In fact, the teenager who will practice his school French with you might actually be a better option than the French native speaker that you meet online.

Moral of the story: Make your own rules for what works for you.

What To Do About It

My advice would be to try a tutor, and that's just because:

  1. They work hard to make sure you understand, by reducing their own dialects and breaking sentences down to where you need them
  2. They will stick with you when you run out of the first 3 conversation topics with a language partner and research topics you need to talk about
  3. They won't expect you to spend any time teaching them your own language

Personally I learnt English before the internet was everywhere and still got from "pretty good" to "pretty fluent", through being taught by German natives and spending a lot of spare time listening to Pulp all the time and talking to myself. But I cannot imagine having done it without teachers. When your target language is German,

I think it's even more important that you find native speakers who understand your needs. German is that much easier to learn when you can make sense of the rules - and our spoken language is different from the grammar books. Trust yourself most of all, but if you have no native speaker around you please remember: It's not going to stop you.

How To Bring In Native-Like Practice

Of course, working without a native person to learn a language does not mean it would be wise to cut out all native-language content. When learning a language, it's important to know how it's spoken and to get a sense of the place where it's spoken.

You want to hear the sounds, the idioms, you want to know that there is a point to what you're doing here. In all learning, it's boring when it's just theory.

To get native-level practice into your studies before you go hunting for speakers all over town, try bringing in audio resources or even TV. It's easy to watch television in other languages or use cool software like Yabla.

And if you have regular access to native speakers, don't avoid them. Go out of your way to say even small things like good morning, and ask them "How do I say this in your language?" You'll soon find that every one of them is a small ambassador for their own language, just like you are for your own. And what's better than sharing?

How Soon Do You Work With Native Speakers?

Has it ever held you back that you can't find the native speaker? Or has shyness stopped you from talking to natives?

Leave your comment below to tell me more!

How to Party With The Football-Crazy Germans This Month (+ German Anthem Video)

There's chanting in the stands, sunshine in the streets and everyone is dusting off the Mannschaft jerseys: Euro 2016, this year's biggest football tournament has finally started!

Party With German Friends

If you're learning the German language, you already know how important the sport is to Germans. There are over 6.5 million football club members in Germany, but during Euro 2016 those numbers pale into insignificance. You're safe to say that at least half of the Germans you'll meet are going to take an interest in this tournament.

By the way: As a Welsh learner, I've already picked up a few new words by learning the Welsh national anthem. Never say sportsball isn't for learning.

So Why Miss Out On Euro 2016 Fun?

No matter who you are supporting, no matter if you even care about who wins, the excitement is going to be unavoidable in the coming weeks. The following tips are guaranteed to help you feel at home in any Fanmeile or public viewing zone (those are what the Germans call their big screen areas)

1) Don't Bet On The Favourites

Germans are a risk-averse bunch. The classic British tradition of supporting the underdog is puzzling to many of them. Why go for anything but the most promising option? So if you want to get with the German mentality as a football supporter, reserve a soft spot for the most likely tournament winners.

For Euro 2016, the strongest football teams are Spain, Italy, Poland, the reigning world champions Germany and host nation France.

But don't go out and place a bet on them to win. Bet shops and betting agencies in sports are less commonplace in Germany as Germans prefer wise investments to anything as risky as gambling.

2) Get The Grillparty Started

Football World Cup and European Cup tournaments take place in the summer - perfect timing for millions of Germans to open up Balkonien (balconia - a German word for "holidaying at home") and invite their friends round for a BBQ and viewing party.

For the best German Grillparty, you need a venue (garden, allotment, balcony, public BBQ area), a TV to watch the match, some meat (despite the vegan trend, Germans tend to be non-veggie), salad and veggies, and a good supply of drinks. No need for spicy sauces - German foods are rarely hot and spicy.

3) Be A Fachsimpler

Fachsimpeln (playing the expert) is a hobby no one can resist entirely, and watching sports among friends is no exception. When you're among your friends and everyone is playing armchair pundits, listen out for some of the following words to help you keep up:

  • Der Anstoß - kick off
  • Die Schwalbe - dive (when a player feigns injury)
  • Der Stürmer - striker
  • Der Verteidiger - defense player
  • Das Mittelfeld - mid-field
  • Der Elfmeter - penalty
  • Der Eckball - corner
  • Der Freistoß - free kick
  • Das Foul - foul
  • Verlängerung (in der Verlängerung) - extra time
  • Ich bin für Deutschland. - I'm supporting Germany
  • Wie steht es? - what's the score?
  • Der Pokal - cup (in a sporting context)

By the way, you can practice these sentences and learn a lot more about how Germans talk in my German pronunciation course.

4) Be About The Team, Not The Player

Back in the early 2000s, German football wasn't quite as successful as it's looking today. Our teams were made up of good players, but the team spirit was lost. In recent years, German football has undergone a transformation and brought in a new focus on the whole team.

The official song, motto and hashtag for the German football team in Euro 2016? Jeder für Jeden (or #jederfuerjeden) - everyone for everyone. This team is not about running around behind a super famous striker. They're hoping to bring home sporting glory together.

5) Learn Some Football Quotes

Football coaches and football players are people who are often asked for their opinions, and every now and then produce a piece of wisdom second to none. You can find many quotes attributed to German coaches on this Spiegel.de page. From Der Ball ist rund und das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten, to nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel, you won't need to be fluent in German to join in with your football-crazy friends this summer.

Or if you want to hang out and watch football with me for the night, all you really need is a passionate supply of these lines. Let's be honest, even shouting "Mesuuuuut!" at strategic moments will be wonderful.

german football

Who Are You Supporting?

Football tournaments are an awesome way for people to get together and have a bit of fun (that's valid for the incredibly underfunded womens' sports too, by the way).

Are you joining in this summer? What's your favourite football quote?

Let me know in the comments below!