16 March 2021
Many VOA Learning English users live in places where it is hard to find someone to practice speaking English with. You may be one of those people. So you may have tried to find people online, even on our website or social media pages. And maybe you found a partner or maybe you did not.
If you have been unlucky in finding a partner, today's Education Tips is for you. On this program, we offer four tips to help you find someone who wants to practice speaking English with you.
The first tip is to use Facebook.
You might already have a personal account on Facebook and use it to do things like share pictures and connect with friends and family. But maybe you have never joined a Facebook group.
Facebook groups are excellent for finding people who share your interests, including English learning.
You will want to make sure you join a group whose members are very active. When deciding on a group to join, keep in mind that groups with thousands of members may not be as active as smaller groups. So take some time to look around and then choose a group, or maybe a few.
Note that joining a Facebook group is not the same as "liking" or "following" a page. Groups are designed to share information and opportunities among members.
After joining a group and spending time observing its posts, you will begin to see which members are the most active. If you notice that someone writes a lot of useful comments or questions, they are probably serious about learning English. Consider messaging them directly to ask if they would like to practice speaking English with you. You can practice through Facebook Messenger or video apps like Zoom or Skype.
Our next tip is to use Meetup.com.
Meetup is a free website that helps people with similar interests find each other and meet in person. Users of the website can be found around the world.
Members of language Meetup groups often meet in public places, such as coffee houses. The coronavirus pandemic has led some groups to meet online, or in places where safe social distancing is possible.
There are thousands of Meetup groups around the world covering thousands of interests. You can also find speakers of every language imaginable. There are English-speaking Meetup groups on every continent.
Try a language exchange
Our third tip is to try a language exchange.
Language exchanges are unlike usual speaking practices. In a language exchange, a meeting is divided into practicing two languages.
Suppose for example you are a native Portuguese speaker and you want to practice English. Your partner is a native English speaker who wants to practice Portuguese. You and your partner would speak English for one half of the meetings and Portuguese for the other half.
Many people that I know have improved speaking skills in their target language through language exchanges. However, other people have found the exchanges a waste of time.
There are steps you can take to ensure that you are using your effort and time wisely. For instance, decide on clear goals, choose the right partner, state your expectations and prepare for your meetings.
You can learn more about how to have great language exchanges in an earlier Education Tips.
Cast a wide net
Our final tip for today is to "cast a wide net." That means to try many different things to increase your chances of getting what you want.
Tell your friends, family and coworkers that you are serious about improving your English. Maybe explain your reasons for learning the language. Let them know you are looking for an English speaker to talk to. Ask around your larger community as well. The more people you ask, the more likely and quickly you will find a good practice partner. He or she may not live in your city – or even your country – but you can meet each other online.
Well, that covers our four tips for finding someone to speak English with. Good luck. And let us know if these methods, or others, helped you find an English-speaking practice partner.
I'm Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
practice – v. to do something again and again in order to get better at it
tip – n. a piece of advice or useful information
opportunity – n. a situation or condition favorable for a goal
conversation – n. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people