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
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
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.