Jeremy’s English Tips Episode #4: Language exchange

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Hello everyone. This is Jeremy and you’re listening to Jeremy’s English Tips. The series where I teach you interesting expressions or share language learning tips.

In this episode, we are going to talk about language exchange and friendship. Now, when I talk to people about language learning most people don’t understand what language exchange is. So, when I tell them that I learned Korean mostly through language exchange and that I didn’t take any language classes, they often say, “What? Language exchange, what is that?” So, I always have to explain.

What I usually tell them is this: language exchange is trading your native language skill for help in the language that you are learning. So, if you are learning English and your native language is Arabic then you need to find a native English speaker who is learning Arabic. If you do a language exchange with them, then you can help them with their study and they can help you with your study. So, you are exchanging language.

Now many other people in the language learning world these days have had trouble with language exchange. Many people say it doesn’t work or it’s too difficult to find a good language exchange partner and I definitely can understand.

When I started learning Korean, I was living in Korea and luckily near my house there was a language exchange cafe. So, I went there and signed up to do language exchange. They paired me up with a partner and I ended up becoming good friends with that person. I know not everyone has this opportunity, maybe you live in your home country and there aren’t many native English speakers near you or maybe you are a shy person and it’s very difficult for you to meet new people. My advice for you is to utilize the power of the internet. So, I’d like to first tell you a few ways you can find language exchange partners and I’ll leave you with a couple tips for making a successful language exchange.

The first method is to use a language exchange app. If you have a smart phone, you can download the free apps, Tandem and Hello Talk. Tandem is spelled T-A-N-D-E-M and Hello Talk is H-E-L-L-O T-A-L-K both of these apps are very similar and they have similar features. You can search for partners within the app based on age, native language, gender, location. So, you can even find someone who lives in your town, maybe. Once you find someone, you can send them a message saying hello and you can send them a text message saying hello or you can introduce yourself with a voice message.

Within the app, when you search for a language exchange partner you can check out their profile and make sure that they are someone that you would like to talk to. Sometimes there are strange people on the internet, so we have to be careful who we talk to. So, I suggest reading through the person’s profile and using your best judgement before contacting someone. You can also use a website like italki. I-T-A-L-K – to find a language exchange partner or tutor as well. Another website is

Whatever method you choose, once you find someone who you get along with, it is important that you lay down some ground rules first. What I mean by this is tell them your preferred method of communication. Do you want to only text message, do you want to have a weekly phone call, do you like to video chat? Things like this and talk to them about how you like to be corrected. If you make a mistake, some people will let it slide, meaning they won’t correct it and other people will correct it for you no matter what. So, I suggest telling your partner this early on. So that they know how to help you and how you would like to stay in contact with them. If you show a genuine interest in helping them with their language learning then they will likely reciprocate and help you with your study as well. Remember this is an exchange and so it is important to be a good friend. To be nice to them and to be helpful.

And my final tip for this episode is if you’re not sure what to talk about ask them questions about English. Language and language learning is always a great topic for a language exchange session. So, if you are having trouble with pronouncing a certain word or if a certain grammar form is very confusing for you, you can say, “Hey, I’d like to practice this today.” And your language exchange friend can help you out. So, why don’t you give it a shot?

Please let us know how it goes by contacting us via email at or on social media. We hope that you found this episode helpful today. If you’d like to get the study guide and transcript for this episode, you can head over to to find out how to download it. Thank you for listening and I’ll catch you next time. Take care everyone bye!

Take home messages

  • Language exchange occurs when you teach someone your native language and you learn their native language

  • Language exchange meetups can be a great way to make new friends and practice English

  • There are many apps and websites where you can find a language exchange partner if going to a physical meetup is difficult

  • Successful language exchange depends on both partners being good friends and helping each other

  • It is important to set the rules for a language exchange (meeting time, how much time will be spent speaking English, how will feedback be given, etc.) so that everyone involved is satisfied

Writing and Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever attended a language exchange meetup? How did it go? Was it a positive or negative experience?
  2. Do you prefer online language exchange (text messages and video chat) or do you prefer offline language exchange meetings?
  3. What would your ideal language exchange be? How often would you meet? What would you study? How many people would be involved?

Study Challenges

  1. Attend an offline language exchange meeting and try to make a new language exchange friend
  2. Use one of the apps/websites Jeremy mentioned and make a post looking for a language exchange partner
  3. Be proactive! Talk to 5 different people in English using on of the language exchange apps Jeremy mentioned

Credit: Music: Miei by Broke for Free, Feel Good (Instrumental) by Broke for free
Episode preparation/research: Jeremy Brinkerhoff
Audio editor: Andrew Bates
Transcriptionist: Heather Bates
Study guide writer: Andrew Bates
Audio editor: Andrew Bates
Business manager: Tsuyoshi Kaneshima

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