Whether you are an international student wanting to improve your English skills or perhaps a native English speaker wanting to study another language, learning a new language can be achieved through a language exchange program.
So what exactly is a language exchange program?Basically, in a language exchange program, English language learners are paired with native English students to practise each other’s language in a relaxed and conversational manner. For instance, an international Malaysian student improving his or her English will do a language exchange with a native Australian speaker who is learning Malaysian.
How does it work?
Most Australian institutions offer language exchange partnerships to both local and foreign students who wish to practise and develop their foreign language skills. Depending on the students’ requests and preferences, they can meet for an hour daily or at least twice a week during the entire semester on and off campus. Then, they will decide the topics or the activities they will do together.
At the end of the semester, if the students wish to continue with the program, they can have the same partners or may be assigned to a new partner if necessary.
How can international students benefit from language exchanges?
Extra speaking practiceAlthough many students find it effective to master a foreign language through classroom lessons, it doesn’t always have to be this way. There are free and more relaxing ways to learn. Doing a language exchange allows you to have more time to practise your actual speaking skills than you would normally have in a class. An unlimited chance to speak is actually a good training ground for communicating in the real world.
Building conversational experience and confidenceAs an international student, you would probably keep your ideas to yourself during class discussions for fear and doubt of making mistakes. Language partnership, in contrast, is a good way for you to voice your opinions as it is a shared setting. And because the topics are limitless, you can talk about anything you would like, making the flow of conversations smooth and enjoyable.
Increased motivation and interestUnlike a classroom setting, language exchange programs encourage equal talking and listening time. As the conversation flows, you give corrections where necessary but in a friendly way. As such, learning the language becomes fun and easy. In turn, you become more motivated and interested in reaching fluency.
Friendship starts with a conversation. Because language partnerships are focused on conversations, making friends can sometimes be effortless in a language exchange program. Plus, you forget the pressure and you feel more comfortable, and in turn, you can feel more free to be yourself.
Language exchanges are undeniably a fun and rewarding way to practise your second language, gain new friends, improve your interpersonal skills and learn about other cultures.
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