Is a language exchange the only option to practice your target language?

Three weeks ago I wrote about the first hundred of language exchange offers at Bebelvillage. Till today you almost doubled the number. The growing numbers bring deeper insight.

These of you who visited the website in the last days surely noticed the change of the Home page. Let’s take a look at one, particular section of the redesigned page - “Members speak … and are learning”. As you see there are two tag-clouds built out of names of languages Babelvillage members speak and are learning.

For now, there are 42 languages our members speak and 22 they are learning. But more interesting than this are small numbers presented together with the names of languages. They show numbers of members who speak or are learning a particular language.

It’s worth to investigate them closer.

Take a look at the numbers of English. There are 157 members who are learning English and only 57 who speak the language. Moreover, only 15 of them are native speakers. So approximately, the ratios are accordingly one to three and one to ten.

I’m afraid that, even in the future, the ratios won’t change significantly. Because of many factors there will always be a huge, unmet demand for English.

What if there is no chances for a 'true' language exchange?

So, what if you have sent many ‘true’ language exchange invitations and none of them bore fruit? Or even worse, what if there is nobody for whom you can send a ‘true’ language exchange invitation? I mean, there is no-one who are learning the language you speak and speaks the language you are learning.

Is this the end? Absolutely not. Have you ever thought about practicing your target language with people who are learning the same one as you are?

Try mutual language practice with other learner of the same language

Of course is not the same. Mutual practicing with learners like yourself is not the same as doing a ‘real’ language exchange. You can’t expect the same from both of the activity.

Of course is not for everyone. Would be extremely hard to practice conversation when both of you are beginners. :) I think that for the best result of mutual practicing both of you should be at least at a lower-intermediate level.

So, of course there is a number of limitations, but as an old proverb states - Better a small fish than an empty dish. :)

After examining the statistics of language exchange invitations (messages) you (members) are sending to each other at Babelvillage, besides the numbers, I discovered that a part of language exchange invitations are mutual practice invitations indeed. There is a number of messages sent not to a native speaker of the sender’s target language but to a member whose target language is the same, I mean, who is learning the same language as the sender of a message.

All of that brings us to an idea.

‘Partnership type’ - a new field in your Member Profile settings

The idea is to let you, and all other Babelvillage members, firstly, explicitly state if you are interested in mutual language practice, secondly, easily look for a partner. If the idea will catch on, there will be two separated searching forms: one for ‘true’ language exchange and one for mutual practice.

But first things first. If you edit your Profile now you see a new field added to the form, the “Partnership type” field. There are three options to choose from:

  • only a true language exchange
  • a mutual practice
  • both

For now, that’s all. In a week or two we will see how your (all members') preferences look like. If there will be a significant number of members interested in mutual practice we will move forward to implementation of the new feature.

So now, take a break from reading, edit your Profile and set a proper value according to your personal preferences. Then back and use the comment form below to share with me and others your thoughts.