Are you an expat living in London looking to practice your language skills? The main issues people experience when learning a new language are usually to do with confidence, and not being able to get enough real life practice. It’s all well and good using a fancy app with voice recognition software to correct your pronunciation, but it’s much better to practice speaking with other people.With this in mind, we’ve compiled a guide on language exchange meetups in London, specifically geared towards expats. We’ve outlined the benefits of these exchanges, where to find meetups, and included tips on practicing a language with others.
Benefits Of Language Exchanges
There are a multitude of benefits you can gain from attending language exchanges. Here are some of the best.
As the saying goes, no man (or woman!) is an island. Above all else, when you’re in a new country, you want to meet new people, make friends and build relationships. A language exchange is not just helpful for honing your linguistic skills, it’s also a chance to meet people with similar interests to your own.
Another benefit on the social side of attending a language exchange meetup is the potential opportunity for networking. You never know who you will meet and whether it can lead to a new exciting business opportunity!
The obvious reason for going to such an event is to practice the language you want to learn. However, the extent of the practical experience you will gain may be a pleasant surprise. For example, when practicing with a native speaker, you may pick up on aspects that an app or online course could never teach, such as gesticulations, slang and phrases.
Ultimately, being in a fun environment with a nice group of people is going to increase your confidence tenfold. Approaching any new task with confidence can be the key to success.
Where To Find Language Exchanges
There are several options to explore when looking for a language exchange meetup. Thanks to the multicultural nature of London and the technology available, it is easy to find a large number of groups to join for free.
There are plenty to choose from, but here are some of our top picks.
• Conversation Exchange
Many of these websites have thousands of members and are free to join. Some are organized by language; others by interests, or location. Some may be more geared towards mature language learners, others for business professionals or students, so there is bound to be something that suits everyone.
You can also try searching online directories and forums such as Reddit, Gumtree and Craigslist for people posting adverts looking for language exchange partners.
Another website which is great for hosting meetups and networking is Couchsurfing. Originally intended as a website for free accommodation swaps, this site has now expanded to include sections where people can organize meetups in a particular area.
Other options include Facebook groups, such as our group for expats in London, or joining the Mammoth London Language Exchange group, which organizes regular events from parties and pub crawls to volleyball matches and picnics in addition to their specific language meetups. You can also try posting on message or advert boards at your university, place of work, and local community or language centres.
Here are some top tips to get the most out of your language exchange experience.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
One of the most common pitfalls for most language learners is being scared of making embarrassing mistakes. Nobody expects you to have flawless pronunciation and to be an expert on grammar when you’re starting out, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
To get the full benefit of language exchange meetups, you need to make the effort to attend as often as you can. If you only go every now and then, or once every few months, you won’t really be taking anything away from those sessions.
Make sure you practice between meetups and exchanges. If you don’t take the time to practice in between, you are most likely to find that you don’t progress with your new language, or possibly your skills getting worse. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Let people know if you want to be corrected
Some people may not want to correct you mid-sentence for fear of offending you or throwing you off. It’s a good idea to discuss with your language exchange partner/s whether you want to be corrected in this way or not.
Safety should be taken into account when meeting for one-to-one language exchanges. Always arrange to meet in a public place, and let someone know where you are going and who with.
If you are taking part in a virtual language exchange, do not give out any personal information. If you using an app, consider turning the location setting to “off”, and do not accept or download any programs or documents from people you do not know in case they contain a virus.
We hope that this guide has given you some great ideas of how to go about finding and attending language exchange meetups in London, and that these tips help you grow in confidence during your language learning journey!