Language is inherently social: after all, the whole point of language is to allow humans to communicate with each other. Therefore, if you’re learning a foreign language, it makes sense to be as social as possible: learning with others is fun, motivating, and will help you learn faster. However, if you don’t know where to look, it can be hard to find opportunities to be social in your language of study. If you want to learn language with others, read on for suggestions on how to do so.
Finding a foreign-language pen-pal is a great way to meet native speakers. Image via Courtcourtwest / Wikipedia
1. Find a long-distance pen-pal
There are lots of people around the world who want to improve their language skills. For this reason, websites like Conversation Exchange allow you to connect with native speakers of the language you want to learn, and write to them in that language. In return, they get the chance to write to you in your native language. This way, you can get in valuable writing practice with native speakers who can offer you insights and suggestions on how to improve your language skills.
2. Join online forums
With the increasing prevalence of the Internet, there are online forums that deal with almost any topic, in almost any language. Therefore, it should be no problem finding a foreign-language forum about what interests you the most. This way, you’ll be able to learn specialized vocabulary for things you’re interested in, as well as improve your reading and writing skills. Not sure where to start? Consider watching a foreign-language film and find discussions about it on the Internet. Alternatively, check out the bustling WordReference forums for general language chat.
3. Go to local meetups — or create your own
You may be surprised by how many people in your area are also learning your language of study. Check out the language section of Meetup to see if there’s a study group in your area. If not, consider making your own — there are language learners everywhere, and there’s no better motivator for learning a foreign language than to doing it with friends.
4. Use the language in an authentic setting
Going to an authentic Mexican restaurant: a delicious way to practice your Spanish. Image via Pixabay
If you’re studying Mandarin Chinese, why not go to a Chinese restaurant and order off the menu using the language? Or if you’re learning Spanish, consider signing up for salsa classes, conducted in Spanish. With a little searching, you’ll find that there are ample opportunities for foreign-language practice, especially if you live in a city. If you don’t have much contact with native speakers, this is an excellent way to try out using the language in a real-life context.
5. Travel to a country that speaks the language
Of course, the most obvious way to get in touch with a large number native speakers is to travel to a country that speaks the language. For your next vacation, consider leaving your comfort zone and traveling somewhere that doesn’t speak English. Make a pact with yourself to use the language as much as possible, as tempting as it might be to stick to tourist-friendly activities in which English is readily available. If you resist the urge to use English, you can vastly improve your language skills in just a few weeks, and make some international friends along the way.
6. Converse with a native speaker
For some, traveling to a foreign country isn’t a viable option. The next best alternative — and one that is much more economical — is to take advantage of recent developments in technology, and use apps like Native, which instantly connect you with a native speaker who can help you on your language-learning journey. You can work on conversation skills, specific grammar points, regional dialects — the possibilities are limitless.
Language learning doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In fact, it shouldn’t — being sociable will make the language-learning process more enjoyable and more productive. From finding a pen-pal online to meeting up with fellow language-learners in your area to traveling to a non-English speaking country, there are plenty of ways to infuse some social contact into your language-learning routine. What other ways do you recommend for getting social when learning a language? Leave a comment!