When you’re a solo learner, the internet plays a huge role in your language learning routine. You use online resources like YouTube, courses and apps. You find cool people who share the love of language on polyglot forums, Facebook Groups and Instagram.
But how cool would it be if you could add a few real life language lovers to your squad of #polyglots? You could meet up and encourage each other, share the latest tips, cook a meal or go for a multilingual walk. Honestly, how do any of us live without wanting such delights!
You may be reading this thinking there’s no way you can find another person in your area who is learning the same language as you.
But are you really the only linguist in the village?
Here are some ideas for finding people off-screen who share your passion for learning languages.
Who To Look Out For
Before you bound out into your street armed with a dictionary and the latest edition of El Mundo expecting to bump into your new Spanish exchange partner, you need to make a profile of all the kinds of people you’d love to hang out with.
Your online network can give you hints of the kind of people you like to find. If you bloom in language exchanges, look for similar arrangements offline. If you love to read or watch the story of other language obsessives, add them to your circle. And if you follow 200 linguists on twitter, that’s another great hint for who you’d blissfully share a coffee with.
Looking at all that, it’s clear that casting a broad net will pay off. Stay open to all of people who are on a similar path to yourself, and don’t underestimate the power of a network.
I was always going to mention the dating analogy (just like we did in this podcast about having the best ever language exchange), and it’s a helpful one to consider. So here goes: Don’t look for the future life partner, and you’ll be most likely to bump into them.
Start By Asking Around
The first step is to start by mentioning your language love wherever possible, to more people than you think will want to hear it. It’s like the first rule of advertising: make sure people know what’s up!
In small talk, try to weave in that you are learning your language. If they are interested, you can mention you’d love to have a chat partner or you’ve been wondering if other people might be interested. You never know, their network might turn something up.
A Few Places To Start
Now that you are ready to embrace the many different ways a language lover may pop up in your life, here are a few places to start looking.
Finding a local meet-up group is relatively easy, funnily enough because many groups are listed online. Here are 3 sites to check out:
The classic website for local meet-ups, where you can join a few groups and start going to meetings.
Eventbrite is known as a ticketing website, but browse around your local area and you might well discover a lot more, like business networking and free lectures.
This social media giant is a big player when it comes to finding local groups. Use the search bar or browse around its recommendations. I’d recommend starting your search with the local events, and checking out which groups organise them.
Events include talks, festivals, open lectures, trade fairs, and conferences. Choose to go to something new and look out for cultural or internationally themed events.
Here are a few examples:
- Cultural celebrations like the Chinese New Year
- Travel talks about a specific part of the world
- Food festivals where you’ll find lots of international cuisines
- Language Days or Cafés like this one
- Political demonstrations and debates
- Taster lectures for starters of other languages (if you’re tempted, your kinda people will be too!)
If you live near a university, look out for the many different events organised by international and country-specific societies. And if you are religious, look out for friendly faces in your local church.
Anywhere people gather can be the place you meet your language buddy.
To Find Speakers Of Your Target Language:
Ask yourself where your target language speakers might want to go if they’re staying in your area for a while. International students may look for churches or business lectures, or a Latin American expat might attend local Salsa nights. The French speakers may come to Pilates classes, but probably won’t be found at a French learner’s event.
Have you made a language learning friend away from the online world?
How did you guys meet
Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!