While you can make a lot of ground studying on your own; one of the best and fastest ways to develop your Korean is by finding a native speaker that you can do Korean language exchange with.
There’s a lot of avenues or questions surrounding language exchange though. So lets get into the How, Why, When, Where and more of Korean language exchange. Here I’ll give you some tips and tricks and a bit of my own experience with language exchange so you don’t go in blind!
What is Korean Language Exchange?
Language exchange is typically between two students each trying to learn each others languages. Like a native Korean speaker with a native English speaker. This can be through text or calls, or even in person.
How the exchange is setup is decided between each other. Some people do a half hour in the first language and another half hour in the second. I’ve personally done it through text and sent messages where we had half in English and half in Korean or Japanese!
Ex: I went out yesterday with friends to see x movie. Have you seen it yet? I really liked the main character…
저는 일본에 가본적이 있어요, 하지만 아직 한국에 안갔어요…
Now English to Korean is probably the most popular language exchange with Koreans but you can also connect with them in another language! Especially online you’re more likely to find more options for language exchange so you can pick your native language, or just what you’re most comfortable in. It’s best to pick one you are fluent in though, since they will be learning from you and want more expertise than learning with another student in that language.
Why Should I Try Out Language Exchange?
But why try out language exchange? Obviously it will let you practice your Korean but I think the advantages are much more than that! By trying out language exchange you get to learn more about natural conversations in Korean instead of ones out of a textbook. Language exchange is perfectly 50/50 of input and output so you develop both reading and writing or speaking and listening.
One of the biggest things I think is connection. If you have been studying Korean alone then having someone to connect with is great to relate to in their language learning journey but also create a personal connection with Korean. Chatting with someone let’s you have an avenue of study that doesn’t feel so much like studying; you’re meeting a new friend and connecting with them. It can break the monotony of studying that’s easy to find yourself in after a while.
How to Find a Korean Language Exchange Partner?
HelloTalk and Tandem are a probably two of the most popular language exchange apps out there right now. But really you can use almost any app geared towards meeting people from new countries and chatting with them. While I personally haven’t used either HelloTalk or Tandem I have used the Slowly app which imitates sending letters in the mail.
I can run through some points for each one quickly though:
- Biggest language exchange app; more likely to find diverse partners but also with risk of people using it with bad intentions
- Options for text, phone and video calls
- Feedback and correction features along with translation tools
- Paid additional features
- Has waiting period before you can use the app (can be up to a week supposedly)
- Text, phone and video calls
- Paid Tutoring and lessons available
- Feedback and correction features with 3 free translations a day
- Can create a profile showcasing interests, letting you connect and speak with people who you might better match with
- Customizable avatar icons
- Delay in message sending/receiving to simulate being penpals and chatting through the mail
- Text only messages and images option
But really similar to using an app like Slowly if you can connect with people from around the world and use different languages you can use it as a language exchange tool! Once popular option is using discord:
- Text, call and video options
- Servers or groups dedicated to language exchange with various subsections of topics
- Server apps; games, tools, and language specific app integration like memrise
This is entirely dependent on where you are so if you can find language exchange meetups nearby or in your city that’s great! It’s not available for everyone but in a lot of cases you can connect online and meet in person with 1 on 1 or group. I have seen many options on meetup for group language exchanges which might feel more comfortable for people new to language exchanges.
The number 1 thing to do when when meeting up with someone new 1 on 1 in person is pick a public setting, and don’t commit too much initially. Keep it light and casual like meeting a cafe for a while.
Decide How You Want to Practice Korean
Next thing to do is think about your goals or what you want to get with the language exchange. Work on casual conversations? Listening/Talking practice? Develop in a specific topic or area (ex. work, school)? Ask questions about Korean (ex. ‘why do people say x instead of y??’, or clarity on meanings, etc.)? or just chat!
Also depending on what your partner wants too, from my experience most people just want generally chat and work on conversation. Letting things go naturally and talk as friends. But with how many people you can meet you can have one you talk about daily life with, another your shared major in school or job, and more.
Of course keep in mind everyone’s level. If the app you’re using doesn’t let you display your level you can open with that before getting into talking more. You don’t want to be overwhelmed with vocab high above your level or do that to your partner! It really helps to know where everyone is at and that can help you both decide what to focus more on too.
I want to get into topics and some vocab/starting lines to give you some ideas to work off of but this is getting a bit long so I’ll save it for a part 2~