Tips for a successful language-exchange partnership - Dartmouth

By Alex Hudson,2014-01-29 07:25
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    Tips for a successful language-exchange partnership:

    The goal of LACE is to give students an opportunity to practice conversational skills in a foreign language and explore intercultural friendships. The ingredients for a successful LACE partnership: a willingness to open up to each other and find topics of common interest; a good dose of curiosity about each other’s culture; and respect for each other’s differences.

Here are some tips for a successful partnership:

    ; Set a regular meeting schedule and try to commit to it. Make sure that the meeting time is

    convenient for both of you! If your schedules are incompatible or if you realize you can’t

    commit to meeting regularly, inform your partner of the problem so he or she can find

    another language partner.

    ; Try to meet in a place where both of you feel at ease. You may want to meet in a coffee

    shop, outside on the green on a sunny day, in a cafeteria during lunch break, or in any

    other place where you can talk comfortably.

    ; Be careful not to slip into speaking the language that is the easiest to use. For the benefit

    of both partners, you should make sure you divide your time equally between the two


    ; You can use a timer to make sure you divide the time equally. It may seem a bit awkward

    at first, but if you don’t time yourself you often end up short-changing one of the

    languages. Another solution could be to alternate language every other meeting.

    ; Be prepared and initiate your own learning. Before each meeting, try to think of topics

    you would like to discuss. Write down questions you want to ask.

    ; The goal of language partnerships is conversation and cultural exchange. This is not a

    good time to ask many questions about grammar or to teach language in a formal way.

    ; Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Focus on communication! Not on correctness!

    ; Try not to interrupt each other to correct mistakes. This interferes with communication.

    Ignore small errors. It’s not your job to be your partner’s teacher! The meetings will

    become very tedious if you spend most of your time correcting each other and talking

    about grammar and vocabulary.

    ; If you notice that your partner misuses a word or repeatedly makes a mistake that

    interferes with communication, you may want to take note of this and bring it up when

    there’s a lull in the conversation. But again: Although occasional feedback is very helpful,

    you should try to minimize the time you spent correcting each other!

    ; Have pen and paper handy so you can write things down for later reference.

    ; Your partner may appreciate learning some slang and informal expressions that are

    usually not taught in a language classroom.

    Judith Hertog 1 English as a Second Language Specialist Dartmouth College Institute for Writing and Rhetoric

; Keep in mind that people can’t process too much information at once. If you discuss just

    five vocabulary items or three grammar points in one session, that is plenty of

    information to process!

    ; Be respectful of differences in opinions. We often don’t realize to what degree our

    opinions are influences by our cultural background. If you disagree, try to do so with a

    friendly, positive attitude.

    ; Keep in mind that you are individuals. One person does not represent a whole culture!

    You and your partner can only speak from personal experience and knowledge.

; If the partnership isn’t working, LACE may be help you solve the problem or help you

    find a new language partner.

    Suggested topics for conversation:

    Beginner’s level:

    ; Introduce yourself and talk about your hobbies and interests and goals for the future. ; Bring in pictures of family and friends and introduce them to your partner. ; Describe your schedule on a typical day.

    ; Describe what you did yesterday or last weekend.

    ; Bring copies of restaurant menus and study them together. (Many restaurants post their

    menus online.)


    ; Introduce yourself and talk about your hobbies and interests and goals for the future. ; Tell each other about your families.

    ; Compare your experiences in high school and college. What are some differences and


    ; Talk about a movie/TV show you have watched in your target language. (You may want

    to write down some questions about the content.)

    ; Discuss a newspaper or magazine article. Describe the article to your partner and ask

    them to clarify things you don’t understand. (You may want to write down some


    ; Read an advice column in a newspaper/magazine and discuss how you would have


    ; Talk about your research or course materials.

    Be creative and open-minded!

    Good luck! Enjoy the experience!

    Judith Hertog 2 English as a Second Language Specialist Dartmouth College Institute for Writing and Rhetoric

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