The 100 Most Common Words in English

english knoxville

Although there are plenty of vocabulary resources that we recommend at Confidence Learning Services, not the least of which is the Oxford Picture Dictionary, it’s important to look at the most common words in the English language.

Many of these words are “function” or “grammar” words, meaning they do not have a very concrete meaning but rather serve a grammatical purpose in a sentence. While we cannot attach pictures to these words, they are extremely useful to learn. Once you learn these words, you will be able to recognize, understand, and read a large percentage of the English language. In fact, some people estimate that these 100 words make up about 50% of written and spoken English.

Lists of the “100 Most Common Words in English” are available from a variety of sources, and there are slight variations from list to list. This is because these lists are derived from analyzing different materials from different sources, as no one can accurately analyze all of the written and spoken English in existence.

Unlike most lists, however, this is list is arranged by categories, making it much easier to study and understand these words. We recommend that you study one category at a time. You will likely be surprised by how often you encounter these words each day!

100 Most Common Words

 

Nouns

time person year day way

 

Adjectives

new one two first good
even all other most

 

Adverbs

not no well there
only just then now

 

Articles

the a an some any

 

Conjunctions

but and or so also than because

 

Pronouns

Subject:   

I you he she it we they

Possessive:        

my your his her its our their

 

Object:                

me him us them

Demonstrative:

that this these those

 

Verbs

be have do say know can make like take will* could*
go come think use work want give get look would*

*Auxiliary or other verb forms

Prepositions

to of in for on as at with
from about into out up over back after

 

Question

who what where when why how

 

We hope this list is helpful to you as you are studying English. If you want even more assistance in your English studies, contact Confidence Learning Services today for a completely free English language evaluation. You’ll get to chat one-on-one with a highly qualified instructor about your personal goals and abilities in English. Call us now at 1-865-226-9477.

Why is English so hard to learn?

why is English so hard

Students complain about it, the internet is full of articles about difficult English grammar and spelling, there’s even a poem dedicated to expressing just how difficult English actually is.

So why is English so hard? Many people struggle to express exactly what makes English so hard to learn. Since we deal with the difficulties of English on a day-to-day basis at Confidence Learning Services, we thought we’d outline some of the top difficulties most people have with the language.

What makes English so hard? English spelling.

As the poem points out, there are several different ways to pronounce the “ough” syllable, as in, “through”
“dough” and “cough.” But that’s not the only aspect of English spelling that is difficult to master.

Although English has 5 written vowels, (a, e, i, o, u) there are approximately 12 spoken vowels. We say approximately because these vary from region to region. That means that written vowels cannot correspond directly to spoken vowels, and we get all sorts of messy vowel combinations. For example, “oo” may represent the “oo” /u/ in “food” or the “oo” /ʊ/ in “book”. However, “ee” and “ea” may represent the same sounds, in words like “need” and “bead,” or ea may represent a different sound, as in “bread.”

english is so hard

This chart shows the tongue position for just 4 vowels.

In fact, although the English alphabet only has 26 letters, it has 44 spoken sounds. It doesn’t take a linguist or a mathematician to recognize that discrepancy as problematic.

English grammar makes English so hard.

Although English has a couple of things going for it in the grammar department – no pesky genders, no noun declensions – there are a few aspects of grammar that make English difficult.

Let’s look at the past tense. The problems begin when we recognize that the regular past tense “-ed” suffix has one spelling but three possible pronunciations. However, once we have mastered those, we realize that many verbs have irregular past tenses. Of the 18 most common words in the English language, 13 have irregular past tenses.

It’s not just the past tense we have to worry about. Something as simple as the plural is more complicated than it seems. Again we have two common ways of writing the regular plural – adding “-s” or “-es” to the end of the noun. However, we have 3 ways of pronouncing those endings, and again, many mysteriously irregular plural nouns as well, like “man/men” “woman/women” “child/children.”

I’m stressing out about English stress.

why is English so hard

Stress does make English hard, and I’m not referring to the anxiety you may feel when studying. English is a “stress timed” language, meaning syllables in the language may last different amounts of time, but there is perceived to be a fairly constant amount of time (on average) between consecutive stressed syllables.

This means that unstressed syllables between stressed syllables tend to be shortened to fit into the time interval. For example, if two stressed syllables are separated by a single unstressed syllable, as in ‘come for tea‘, the unstressed syllable will be relatively long, while if a larger number of unstressed syllables intervenes, as in ‘come and have some tea’, the unstressed syllables will be shorter.

Many languages are syllable-timed, rather than stress timed, so the idea of shortening syllables is almost incomprehensible to many students.

Those are our top 3 reasons why English is so hard to learn. What about you? What areas of English do you struggle with?

We’d like to make English a little easier for you. With our personalized course schedules, individualized lesson plans, and flexible scheduling, we make it as easy as possible for you to get top quality instruction face-to-face with an expert. Contact Confidence Learning Services today at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule your free English assessment via Skype.

How to learn English and have fun at the same time

how to learn english

 If you want to know how to learn English and have a good time at the same time, these resources are for you.

Everyone knows about foreign language institutes, college classes, textbooks and Rosetta Stone. But to be honest, those don’t sound like how I would like to spend my Saturday night. Can’t language learning be fun too?

You don’t just want to know how to learn English, you want it to be fun. Here are some recommendations for making your language learning experience a lot more enjoyable.

1. How to learn English and have fun – Music.

Pick an English speaking musician or band. Just one. You’re going to become their number one fan. Download all of their albums on iTunes, watch all of their music videos, go to their concerts, and most importantly, study their lyrics. Music is an incredible way to learn language, because our brains are capable of remembering grammar and vocabulary that we normally would not be able to process. If you want to know how to learn English while having a good time driving to a party on a Friday night, you need to sing along to these songs in the car and jam out with friends.

2. How to learn English and have fun – TV.

how to learn english

Again, we’re going to pick one TV show and become obsessed with it. Fortunately, with services like Netflix and Hulu, it doesn’t even have to be a current TV show. Pick one actor or actress whose voice you like, and practice imitating them. Imagine you are auditioning for their part on the TV. You want to be able to match their voice, body language, and stress. This helps your pronunciation immensely. Read episode guides, follow the TV show on Facebook or twitter, and watch each episode a couple of times if you can. You get to binge watch and master how to learn English at the same time.

3. How to learn English and have fun – online games.

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Plenty of people are obsessed with online games like Candy Crush, Farmville, or whatever the latest thing is to hit social media. Instead of crushing candy, try crunching words with similar online games that drill you on English skills. WordReference has several of these English language games, and plenty of other sites give you the opportunity to play games on your screen while reinforcing your English.

Just remember the next time you’re dreading language study, you could be practicing and having fun at the same time.

Ready to improve your English drastically? We build in some of these fun strategies in all of our courses. Contact Confidence Learning Services at 1-865-226-9477 today to schedule your free English consultation.

How to speak English when you are really nervous

How To Speak English Knoxville

Knowing how to speak English when you are scared or intimidated is important.

Many students spend years studying English, listening to CDs, taking tests, and working with computer programs to improve their English speaking skills. But when it comes to actually approaching an English speaker and speaking English, these same students might just stay silent instead. They missed an opportunity to use this still they have worked at so hard – because they are nervous.

So, you need to know how to speak English – in real life, even when you are nervous.

There might be many reasons you are nervous about speaking English, and they are all totally natural. In fact, no matter what language you are learning, you will probably be a little nervous when it actually comes to putting your skills into practice. Some of these reasons might be:

– You will be embarrassed if you make a mistake.

– You don’t want someone to laugh at you.

– You are not sure if the words you are thinking of are the right ones.

– You are afraid the other person will be offended if you assume they do not speak your language.

– You are generally shy.

There may be many other reasons that you struggle to speak English in real-life situations, but the point is, you need to know how to speak English even when you are nervous or worried.

Here a few tips that will help you overcome this fear:

1. Memorize a “Conversation Starter” phrase.

This is more than knowing the word “Hello.” You want to pick a phrase that sounds natural – maybe something you see someone use on a movie or TV show, like, “Hey, how’s it goin’?” Then practice that phrase about five-hundred times. Practice imitating a native speaker saying this phrase. Notice how they link the words together, their sentence tone or melody, and which word they stress. You want to practice this phrase so much that you can say it without thinking, and so that you can say it with convincing, confident English pronunciation. When that nervous, “I completely forgot how to speak English” feeling comes, you can rely on this well-practiced phrase to get you through.

2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

how to speak english knoxville

Much of the nervousness that you feel may be because you are worried about what other people will think of you. But think about it from their perspective. If someone who was studying your language came up to you and tried to speak your language, with poor pronunciation and lots of mistakes, would you think badly of them or laugh at them? Or would you try to help them and encourage them to continue studying and keep trying? If you are like most people, you would be encouraging to someone who is trying to learn your language. Why would you expect anything different from someone else?

It is true that some people will be rude to you if you don’t speak the language perfectly, but usually, these people are not very friendly in their own language either. In that case, it is their personality that is the problem, not your language skills.

3. Remember where you are.

If you are in the United States (or most English speaking countries), you are in a country that is very different from the majority of the world. Most countries are very homogeneous, and have a small immigrant and non-native speaking population. In the United States, however, about 20 percent of the population – 61 million people – speak a different language at home, and there are over 300 languages spoken in the U.S. So when you start wonder how to speak English when you feel so nervous, remember – you are not alone. Most Americans have interacted with dozens if not hundreds of people who do not speak English as their first language. It is a normal, everyday occurrence for us.

Likewise, if you are learning another language in your home country, and trying to practice with the English speaking teacher down the road or in your local Mexican market, imagine how the other person feels having to speak another language most of the time. They may appreciate the effort you put into talking to them in their native language, and they might enjoy the break they get from having to think in another language.

If you can get past the first few words of a conversation, you will be surprised at how easy it becomes. You just have to relax and feel confident in your attempts to speak English.

Let us help you feel more confident in your language use. Sign up for a Confidence Learning Services English course, and we will schedule trips to the local supermarket or library and be right alongside you as you practice using your new language in real life. Or we can work with you internationally via Skype to give you conversation practice with a native English speaker. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 for more information.

Professional Business English for your Website and Social Media

business english

Your company’s online presence is one of the first ways that potential customers and clients interact with your business.

Are you using professional business English, or are embarrassing mistakes scaring off customers?

Chances are, you’ve invested money and time in creating an online presence to represent your company. Perhaps you have even hired a web designer or an SEO professional to ensure that your website gets a greater amount of traffic.

But what do customers see when they follow you on twitter, read your blog post, add you on Google+, like you on Facebook, or scroll through your website?

Here are a few real-life examples of distracting business English mistakes on professional websites:


Business English Mistake #1:

“General informations about right of residence for foreigners”

Business English Mistake #2:

“keep your rates down while rewardring your teen for responsible driving”

Business English Mistake #3:

“We makes over 100,000 photobooks a year”

Business English Mistake #4:

“Warning! You will lost current progress if you close window. Are you shure?”


You probably want your customers to see professional business English that accurately represents your company. Perhaps you think that spelling and grammar errors like the ones above aren’t that important, as long as the main idea is there. But a recent 2013 study suggests that 59% of people would not use a company with poor grammar on its website.

The grammatical and spelling mistakes lurking in your posts, tweets and pages can have a negative impact on your image. Clients may come to your site seeking a professional contractor, accountant or fitness instructor, but instead they find a page full of misspellings, confusing sentences, poor business English, or grammatical errors. Instead of contacting you for more information, they may leave your page wondering if you are really the professional that you are representing yourself to be.

business english

If they can’t spell correctly, what else are they doing wrong?

 

If English is not your first language, it can make the process of creating professional business English text even more difficult. While you are spending all your time scheduling updates, drafting blog posts, and checking your web traffic, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes may be more difficult to notice.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours second-guessing your blog posts or website pages. Confidence Learning Services offers an in-depth grammatical, spelling and composition analysis of all text on your website, social media page, blog, or other English-language media. You don’t have to worry about the difference between “they’re” “their” and “there.” During the months of May and June, this service is only $99 (regularly $150).

Let us do the work for you, so that you can get back to doing what you do best. Contact Confidence Learning Services today at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule your business English-language analysis.

Become fluent fast – 10 tips to help you become fluent

accent reduction in knoxville

How can you achieve fluency as quickly as possible?

At Confidence Learning Services, we often meet people who want to become fluent in the language they are learning. Here are 10 tips to help you in that process, no matter what language you are studying!

1. Fluent fast – Immerse yourself

It’s almost impossible to learn a new language, or at least to learn it rapidly, unless you begin thinking in that language. But how do you think in a new language you can’t yet speak?

Ingratiate yourself with the community and you’re halfway there!

The answer is to simply immerse yourself in it. Traveling in a foreign country allows you to continuously hear the sounds, rhythms, and inflections of a new language–spoken on the streets, in buses, on television, etc. Your brain will already start to process and interpret a new language.

Even better than simply traveling is being forced to “operate” in a new language by participating in a volunteer program, or working abroad. Best of all is being completely immersed with locals (such as living with a host family) and completely isolated from other native speakers of your language.

Immerse yourself with the locals, their music, culture, media, politics, sports, family, etc. Ingratiate yourself with the community and you’re halfway there!

2. Fluent fast – Forget translating: think like a baby!

How do babies learn language? Through imitation, repetition of sounds, and above all, by not being shy or self-conscious.

So what if your pronunciation is a little off, or you can’t remember the proper conjugation? Just start talking, even if it seems like babbling. Resisting the urge to translate everything into your native language can be the single fastest shortcut to fluency.

Rather than walking up to the restaurant or giving your host family a pre-memorized phrase for what you’re going to order, simply listen to how the locals order their food, and then imitate them as best you can. The same goes for greetings, small talk, etc. Watch their facial expressions as they say the words; study how they move their mouths.

Copy these expressions and sounds just like a baby would. Whether you understand what they mean exactly or not, eventually you will begin simply calling upon these sounds / phrases / words in appropriate situations. They’ll appear, as if by magic. This is the gateway to thinking in a new language.

3. How do you say?

Besides common greetings, the one phrase you should memorize and always have at the ready is the phrase is “How do you say that / what is that called?”

By being an inquisitive traveler, one who is always asking questions, you befriend the local people. You’ll find that over time they’ll open up to you, making it easier to initiate conversations. These daily interactions with the locals are your best teachers: set a daily goal for yourself of having X number of conversations each day–asking people about things you’re interested in, but don’t know the words for. Even if you can’t finish the conversation, you’re on the way.

4. Fluent fast – Write it down

After having conversations, jot down the things you remembered hearing but didn’t quite understand.

Then go back and use an online dictionary so that you can learn the meaning and the pronunciation. Look up the words, piece the conversation back together in your mind. Then, next time you have a conversation, use what you learned.

5. Fluent fast – Use cognates and draw links

Have you noticed that some words appear exactly the same across various languages? These are called “cognates.” Unlocking the usage of cognates instantly gives you several hundred more words to your vocabulary. For example, most words ending in “ion” in the Latin languages are the same in English.

For example: information / información, donation / donación

Similarly, words across different languages often share the same root word, so drawing on what you already know will make it easier (e.g.: cheese is fromage in French and fromaggio in Italian). Studies have also shown that when you have mastered a second language, your brain becomes becomes better wired to learn subsequent new languages.

Next Five Tips >>

Should I learn American English or British English?

English Knoxville Tennessee

As a student of English, you will likely have to choose between the two. American English and British English are the most frequently learned kinds of English in the world.

There are a few, important differences in the vocabulary and grammatical structures of the two dialects of English, as well as some spelling differences. However, one of the biggest differences between American English and British English is the accent, or the pronunciation of the words. Let’s take a look at the two main factors you must consider when choosing to study one dialect or another

Choosing between learning American English or British English

1. Which one will be more useful to you?

2. Which one will be easier for you to learn?

If you are currently residing in the United Kingdom or in the United States, the decision should be fairly easy. It will likely be simpler to learn the dialect that you are most frequently exposed to, and the one which others around you will consider more familiar. If you are attending university in Knoxville, Tennessee, and plan to be for some time, study American English. However, if you have a job in London, you will likely be better off focusing on British pronunciation.

It’s not so simple if you’re residing outside of these two countries, or if you travel back and forth between the two. If your job has you regularly flying between Knoxville and London, for example, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • Which dialect do the native speakers I regularly communicate with use?
  • Which dialect does your instructor use?
  • Which dialect are your friends studying?
  • What is your field of study or career? Some fields are dominated by one dialect or the other.
  • Which dialect seems easier to you?
  • Which dialect do you prefer?

If you regularly interact with American clients, for example, studying American English will probably be a great benefit to you. However, it may prove more difficult if your instructor and classmates are all studying British English. You may want to write a list of pros and cons of either dialect to make the decision easier.

What are the differences between the two dialects?

American English

American English Knoxville

In the context of language learning, American pronunciation means General American (GenAm) pronunciation. This is the pronunciation used by educated Americans, on television and on radio. It is described in dictionaries of American English, such as the Merriam-Webster and Random House dictionaries. This is the English taught in Confidence Learning Services’ English and Accent Reduction courses.

Most Americans and Canadians speak something similar to General American. Whether you’re in New York, Knoxville, Los Angeles, Seattle or Toronto, you will generally hear the same accent. There are some regional differences, but they are usually fairly small.

General American pronunciation is rhotic, which means that the letter r is always pronounced.

American spelling tends toward simpler and slightly more phonetic spellings of words with less letters.

American English Offers:

  • More media content (Movies, TV Shows, and video games)
  • More web content (YouTube videos, Podcasts, etc.)
  • More speakers overall – about 10 times more speakers of American vs. British English.

British English

English knoxville tennessee

When people talk about learning British pronunciation, they usually think of Received Pronunciation (RP). RP is the pronunciation of the British upper class; it is sometimes called the Queen’s English. This is the pronunciation that you will learn at a British language school; it is also the model taught in coursebooks and dictionaries from publishers like Oxford and Longman.

In the UK, a small percentage of people speak something similar to RP — upper-class people, academics, actors, TV personalities, politicians and English teachers.

“Normal” Britons usually speak with their local accents, which are often quite different from RP, and can be very hard to understand to untrained ears. Sometimes cities that are only 20 km apart have very different accents. (The British Library has an interactive map of the UK which lets you listen to some examples of British accents from various areas.)

RP is non-rhotic, which means that the letter r is usually “silent”, unless it is followed by a vowel. Here’s how it works:

  • In words like car, tower, inform and first, r is silent (r is not followed by a vowel).
  • In words like red, foreign, print, r is pronounced (r is followed by a vowel).
  • R is also pronounced at the end of a word, if the next word starts with a vowel, for example: number eight, far away.
  • Most RP speakers also insert an r in phrases like: the idea(r) of, Africa(r) and Asia, law(r) and order. This r is not in the spelling; they just use it to separate two vowels.

The following pairs sound exactly the same in RP: or/awe, court/caught,sore/saw, farther/father, formerly/formally. In General American, they all sound different.

British English spelling tends toward additional letters or less phonetic spellings than American English.

British English Offers:

  • Many well known actors, movies, and media content.
  • Great academic content, including high quality dictionaries and English textbooks.
  • An image of intelligence and intrigue among Americans. (However, don’t let this fact influence you too much: while it is possible to master a native sounding accent in either dialect, it takes years of practice, and a lot of hard work and dedication beyond just language learning. Your native language accent will probably far outweigh any benefit of learning a British accent to impress Americans.) 

American English or British English? Know both.

Ultimately, it’s your choice – there is no right or wrong answer here. However, keep in mind that no matter which dialect you choose to study, you should become familiar with the other dialect as well. Even if you choose to focus solely on British English, you need to understand both British and American English, since both are widely used. Even if you want to speak RP, it is good to know how words are pronounced in General American. It helps you understand American speech.

Secondly, you ought to be aware of the systematic differences between RP and GenAm because you will be learning words from Americans as well as Britons. Consider what happens if you hear a new English word on an American TV show produced in Knoxville. If you have some basic knowledge of American phonetics, and the differences between American English and British English, you will probably have a good idea of whether that pronunciation will be the same or different in RP. Otherwise, you’re left just guessing.

If you pay attention to both British and American pronunciations in your dictionary, you will eventually develop a type of intuition about these things. For most words, you’ll be able to tell how to pronounce them in your accent, even if you have only heard them from speakers of the other accent. However, it’s always a good idea to check pronunciation with audio on a site like Oxford Dictionaries, which allows you to choose either US or British English from a drop down menu on the left of the word you type in.

So what did you choose? If you have decided to focus on American English, let us help you out by offering you a free English language consultation via Skype. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule your consultation.

Who learns languages best?

learn portuguese

What type of person makes the best language learner?

Recently, one of my clients in Knoxville, Tennessee asked me what traits our most successful clients at Confidence Learning Services had in common. I thought this was a fantastic question, so I figured I would share my observations. I’m not here to tell you whether men or women, Americans or Chinese, or doctors or engineers make the best students, but I hope the following observations will help you

5. People who learn languages best communicate with native speakers regularly.

This might be great news for you if you want to improve your accent, and you are the only one at work who is not a native English speaker. However, it might be difficult news for you if you are practicing English in a town in which not even the teachers are native speakers, or if you are in Knoxville, Tennessee trying to learn a language like Romanian. This principle holds true even if you are living in an English speaking country, but most of your interactions (with coworkers, family and friends) are with non-native English speakers, even if you usually communicate in English. The good news is, native speakers are just a computer screen away with many websites devoted to finding language partners. Additionally, if you really make an effort, you may be surprised at what you find in your own town. For example, even in Knoxville, Tennessee, there is a Romanian church that would probably provide great opportunities for language practice if you decided to get involved. But speaking with native speakers usually requires you to be…

4. People who learn languages best are outgoing.

That may seem harsh, if you are an introvert, and it’s actually a bit deceiving. You see, people who are outgoing will produce more language output. That means they will produce more correct output, and more errors, than introverts. However, errors are some of our best learning opportunities, and if you refuse to take a chance on what you think might be the word you need to use, you will never know if you were right or wrong. If you are outgoing, you will make a mistake and learn right away. So force yourself to come out of your shell a little bit, (yes, research shows a little alcohol helps). Say hi to people in the community. After all, you are learning a language so that you can communicate with others, right?

spanish class in knoxville tn

3. People who learn languages best take advantage of every opportunity.

That means they go above and beyond their assigned practice. Sure, these students complete their pronunciation practice to learn the difficult English “th” sounds, but then they listen for that sound when they are speaking with friends. They watch for that sound while watching TV at night, and they repeat words with that sound when they hear them on the radio. If you are studying Spanish, you might start reading the Spanish list of ingredients on your food packages, or paying closer attention to signs that you see on the street in Spanish, or turn on the Spanish radio (yes, there are Spanish radio stations in most US cities, even one in Knoxville). Everything is a lesson to be learned.

2. People who learn languages best practice – a lot.

Yes, it sounds obvious, and while the majority of students do practice, you might be surprised at how many clients I have had who sign up for an Accent Reduction, English, or Spanish course but then do not complete the assigned practice. Some clients truly did not have the time in their schedule to make the commitment when taking into account work and other demands in their lives. Others simply chose not to practice, or to practice something else that they deemed more beneficial or interesting, rather than follow the prescribed practice. I usually recommend an hour of practice each day. Without fail, my clients who have demonstrated the most improvement have practiced more than an hour a day.

bilingual kid

And you’re never too young to get those practice hours in.

 

1. People who learn languages best know that attitude is everything.

The common attitudes I see among successful language learners are, “If others can learn this language, so can I.” and “What’s left to learn?” It’s important to remember that it is possible to learn English, Spanish, improve your Accent, or whatever your goal may be. After all, thousands of people have already done so, why can’t you?

It’s also important to remember that there is always more to learn, even in our native languages. We can always improve and grow, and as long as you keep this in mind, you aren’t likely to hit a road-block in your language learning experience.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a successful language learner? Contact Confidence Learning Services today to try out a free, one-on-one consultation in English, Spanish or Accent Reduction.

Finding a Language Partner in Your Community

knoxville english spanish accent reduction

In my last post, I talked about using Language Exchange Websites to find a language partner to practice with. While these sites are great for finding language partners, you are unlikely to find someone in your area to practice with unless you live in a large metropolitan area. Video chatting online is great, but limited, and many people prefer face-to-face interactions. Let’s talk about some ways to find people to practice with in your own community. For the purpose of this post, we’ll assume you’re in the US and the dominant language in your community is English.

Community Language Partners – Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a website dedicated to groups of people who want to meet regularly “in real life.” There are groups dedicated to all kinds of topics, including language. If you speak English, you’ll want to find a group dedicated to the language you’re learning. This works best in bigger cities, and for more common languages. If you are trying to learn English, just about any meetup group will do! These groups usually meet at restaurants, cafes, libraries or other public places. Not all groups are created equal – some are better managed than others, some are free while others require a very small (usually less than $20/year) membership dues.

Community Language Partners – Community Organizations

knoxville english spanish accent reduction

Casa Azafran in Nashville.

You can look to language and ethnic identity organizations in your community for possible practice opportunities. For example, if you have a Hispanic community center, or an Asian Chamber of Commerce, you may contact them to see if they are aware of any language exchange groups that meet regularly, or if they are aware of an individual who would be a good language partner fit for you.

Community Language Partners – Religious Organizations

Religious organizations are great because they often serve as a bond for ethnic communities. If you speak English and are looking to learn a language like Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, or many other languages, you can search for a Mosque, Buddhist temple, or Orthodox church where services are offered in the language you are studying. Chances are, there will be a member there who wants to practice their English as well. If you are trying to learn English, you could contact these organizations to see if they are aware of any language classes and clubs. Many religious organizations prioritize volunteering and serving their community and so may offer services to those who are trying to learn English.

Community Language Partners – Schools

 Knoxville english spanish accent reduction

Last, if you speak English and are looking to learn another language, you may contact your local elementary, middle or high school, specifically the English Language Learning department. Explain that you want to volunteer to help parents who speak Spanish (or your target language) to learn English, in exchange for their help to you, and see if you can leave your personal information with the teacher. Many teachers would be very happy for their students’ parents to have an opportunity to improve their English.

Connecting with a fluent speaker is key to succeeding in language learning. If you’re working on English, Spanish or Portuguese, contact Confidence Learning Services at 1-865-226-9477 for a free language consultation, face-to-face with a certified teacher.

Finding a language partner via an exchange website

No matter what language you’re studying, practicing with a real live person is essential. If you’re living abroad, or taking classes from a fluent speaker like we offer at Confidence Learning Services, this shouldn’t be too difficult. However, you may want to supplement your practice, or keep up your language after returning to your home country. Using online software, books and CDs are great, but will only get you so far. Speaking with another human being is key, so let’s take a look at how to find a language partner via Language Exchange Websites.

Language Exchange Websites

Several websites purport to connect speakers of different languages, in order to set up a mutually beneficial language partnership. You go on the website as a native Spanish speaker seeking help with Japanese, and hopefully find a native Japanese speaker seeking to learn Spanish. And you practice via e-mail, video chat, or in person. However, not all websites are created equal, so let’s take a look at some of these.

italki.com

My personal favorite, this website is also set up to allow you to offer lessons in exchange for pay, or pay for lessons. The concept is brilliant but a little more complicated. However, with a free membership you can search for and contact members based on their native language and what language they’re learning. Searching by city also works best on this site. For example, if you’re from the Knoxville area, you have to choose the city of Knoxville from a drop-down menu when enrolling, as opposed to listing a suburb of or neighborhood in Knoxville, or possibly misspelling the city. This makes searching by city much easier.

busuu.com

This site really presents itself more as language instruction, rather than just a language exchange site. The actual instructional content is limited, but there is a great feature on the site, once you sign up for a free membership, that allows you to contact native speakers of your target language, and be contacted by people wanting to learn your language. Searching for someone by their native and target language is a little more difficult, and the language options are more limited than on the traditional language exchange websites. However, especially for native English speakers, it’s easy to find others who speak your target language and who want to learn English. Paying a website fee allows you to “learn” multiple languages and access more site features, but isn’t necessary to search for language partners. I find this site to be the fastest at getting me talking with someone who speaks my target language.

interpals.net

Dedicated to helping people find “penpals”, this website isn’t solely focused on language exchange, although that exists as an option. Because of this, searching is more difficult, as you can search for someone based on their native language, but not what language they are learning. You can search by countries, but not by cities. There is a forum feature which looks to be the most promising when it comes to getting visibility in searching for a language partner. The site is totally free.

mylanguageexchange.com

Possibly the most popular language exchange, this site is a little easier to search than interpals, but searching by city is difficult, because you can type in anything for your city, meaning if you were in Knoxville you could type in Knoxvile, K-Town, Tennessee, TN, Knox, or any number of other combinations. Although a basic membership is free, it doesn’t allow you to contact members, but only allows you to be contacted by others. Membership that allows you to contact others is only $6 a month. I personally had a poor experience with this site, experiencing no problems as a free member, but after paying my 1 month membership fee, my account was deactivated and the webmaster has refused to refund or reactivate my account. I certainly wouldn’t advise paying more than one month at a time, as you are taking a risk here.

I highly recommend you get started on some of these sites, check out their features, and see which option works best for you. I would love to hear your opinion of the above sites, or recommendations for any other sites that I’ve missed.

A word of caution: Many people seem to use these sites to find a “romantic” connection, despite the fact that there are plenty of sites out there dedicated to that purpose. Within a few minutes of joining Interpals, I had half a dozen messages from men telling me how beautiful I was, and I have found a similar phenomenon on other sites as well. Be advised that you may need to adjust privacy settings, be conscious of profile pictures you upload, and make it clear up front if that is not the type of connection you want. As always, be cautious when talking with strangers.

If you’d like to get started learning English, Portuguese or Spanish with a highly qualified and certified instructor, contact Confidence Learning Services today at 1-865-226-9477. We’ll set you up with a free consultation, face-to-face with a fluent speaker of your target language.