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Language Exchange: What Is It and Why Use It?

Learning a language takes practice; it is more than reading a textbook or listening to lessons with your iPod. The best way to learn a language is to practice speaking and listening with native speakers. But, if you do not live anywhere near native speakers, it can be challenging to find someone to practice with. Fortunately, language exchange programs exist and they are easy to use.

Joining Language Learners

A language exchange is a website that is designed to bring people together to practice languages. Many language exchanges provide speaking opportunities where you can connect to native speakers or language learners via Skype, chat rooms, or specially designed web conferencing spaces. Language exchange websites can be free to use or they might have a small fee associated with joining; regardless of the price, the practice space is priceless.

International Pen-pal Sites

Many language exchange websites are known as being international pen pal sites. Many people think that when something is labeled with the term “Pen Pals” makes it appropriate for kids. However, many of these websites are designed for older users and they may not have protections in place for children. So, if you plan to use these websites with your children for language learning, be sure to work alongside them and never reveal their ages, locations, or other identifying information.

Organized with a Purpose

Language exchange websites are created in a few different ways. Some language exchange websites are designed for people to come together no matter what languages they speak. These are well-organized sites so that people who speak common languages can come together. The other style is designed for one language, so if you need to only practice your Japanese, you go to a Japanese-only language exchange site. They are both helpful for anyone who is working on learning language skills.

Start From Scratch

You do not even have to know a second language to get involved on a language exchange website. They are great starting places for learning a language. If you live in an area of the country where many people speak both English and Spanish, you could visit a Spanish/English exchange site and see what you know from just living in your area. Since many people pick up language just by listening, you probably know more than you might realize and a language exchange is a great place to test your skills in safe and anonymous environment.

Lurking is Ok

You do not have to become an active member of the language exchange until you are ready. Many people will lurk around chat rooms and forums to see what is going on and how they could get involved. It is often a good idea to look around before you commit to a site, because you will want to know what the discussions are about and if the people would be compatible with you.

Be Private

When you decide to become active on the language exchange program of your choice, even the one at, you will find some people who will become your regular exchange partners. As with everything on the Internet, you should always be hesitant to release too much private information about yourself. It is a good idea to keep your conversations limited to the language that you are learning, so you can learn to use the language if you were to travel to the countries where the languages are spoken.

Practice Business Language

Learning exchange websites are also useful for business professionals who need to practice their skills before conducting business with native speakers. It is a good idea to find someone to speak with who knows about business lingo so you can have practice designed for your specific industry.


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