Learning a language is a great yet challenging experience.
Indeed, even though motivation definitely is a key factor to success, everyday life sometimes gets in the way and despite you wanting to become fluent (or at least grasping the essential of a language), you might not have time to get out there and sit in a classroom.
So what can you do then?
Of course not!
Our generation is extremely lucky to have that wonderful tool called the Internet. Yes, but how exactly can you learn a language sat behind a desk? Nowadays, you can find fantastic websites hosted by devoted and very experienced modern foreign languages teachers.
In this article, I will help you find people to practice speaking and writing French online.
Online language exchange
What is online language exchange? Well, just like you want to learn a foreign language (French in your case), some French people want to broaden their knowledge, widen their cultural experience or simply go and see the world so they want to learn another language.
And as it happens, they might want to learn your language. Perfect as you want to learn theirs.
You can therefore help each other and learn from each other! You’ll become a teacher as well as being a student. It’s an experience I have led with my classes and it works a treat! Like the Wall Street Journal said it is “one of the best ways to learn a foreign language”.
Let me explain.
It basically is a modern penpals exchange as instead of writing letters, you communicate either by emails, messages or voice chat. This type of learning practice offers the possibility to speak and write to a native speaker.
Therefore, not only will you make progress in your language learning (grammar, vocabulary and syntax), you will also get an important (and essential) cultural immersion.
You will also get to learn typical slangy phrases which you are unlikely to learn from a school textbook and, believe me, these expressions are crucial to know as more and more French people use them all the time!
Moreover, an important aspect of online language exchange is that the native speaker you are conversing with is in the same boat as you:
- (s)he wants to learn a foreign language.
- (S)he therefore knows exactly what you are going through (that sounds a bit dramatic, I’ll admit it, but, yes, learning a language is difficult so we are allowed to sound a bit like drama queens!). (
- S)he knows all the difficulties you encounter and can put himself/herself in your shoes and give you tips (s)he might have found to overcome these language learning problems.
You will learn from each other and you will grow together by helping each other reaching your own personal goals. It is extremely rewarding and satisfying! And who knows, you might actually become friends!
Okay but where can you actually find a French native speaker who wants to learn your language and what are you going to speak about you might say? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered as I have found a very useful website!
My language exchange
Indeed https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/learn/french.asp is the website you should visit if you are interested in online language learning.
It provides “free, helpful guidelines and tips on how to do a language exchange, as well as free lesson plans designed by an expert in language exchange learning. The activities are fun so you can easily “break the ice” with your new learning partner and get effective practice”.
https://www.conversationexchange.com/ is another great website to help you find people to practice speaking and writing online. The good thing about this website is that you can find local native speakers living in your area.
You could therefore start by writing to each other and end up actually meeting up! If you cannot find any native speaker in your area, this website also has an online community of native speakers from all around the globe so you can organise your online penpals exchange.
Its database gathers people using many different text, voice and video chat such as Hangouts, Skype, Conversation exchange chat, etc.
Here’s another website I find interesting for online language learning : https://www.interpals.net/.
On this site, instead of looking for native speakers living near you, you look for French language partners who have similar learning goals at you. You’ll have to create your online profile and specify what you want to achieve.
By precisely explaining what your language level is now and where you want it to be soon, the online search will find you your perfect matching language learner! A person who has the same learning wishes and drive as you.
But no, even though you’ll find your perfect match, it is not a dating website (just so we’re clear!).
Rather similar to Interpals, Italki also offers online courses for around 10€ / hour. However, if you are not interesting in signing up for an online course, you can stick to finding a language partner and, in that case, it is free.
Just like Interpals, you will have to indicate which language you want to learn (French) and which language you speak. You will also have to give details such as your age and where you come from.
The online search engine and its self-assessment system based on European Framework (levels A1 , A2, B1 , B2, C1 and C2) will do the rest and find you conversation partners with similar level as you.
This site gathers rather a lot of members so you are more or less sure to find native speakers matching your needs and goals. Here’s the website link https://www.italki.com/home.
This completely free website is a bit similar to Facebook in the way that you can have a nosy at people’s profile before getting in touch with them. You can check their spoken/studied language, nationality, sex, age, interests, etc.
This is actually useful if you don’t want to start a conversation with someone who doesn’t like the same things as you.
Having said that, I personally think it is interesting to speak to people with different interests as you as you can broaden your knowledge on many different topics but each to their own.
After having quickly register (you can use your Facebook or Google account), you will be able to find conversation partners who are online.
The online chat can correct your mistakes. Sounds good to you? So have a look at their website https://www.speaky.com/.
Last but not least : HelloTalk https://www.hellotalk.com/. If you rather use your phone or your tablet instead of your computer, this app is perfect for you.
Indeed, you can converse with native speakers over short written and audio messages (a bit like you would on WhatsApp) and if you wish to speak longer you can always go on other app (such as Skype) once you have found your conversation partner.
This app offers a voice, translation and correction system.
I think that all the all useful websites mentioned above will definitely help you find a French conversation partner to improve your speaking and writing skills. Of course, there are plenty more on the web but I’m hoping this list will save you time and allow you to start your learning journey!