Finding conversation partners is one of the most effective ways to practice a language for free to improve your language skills. The biggest problem for people who are learning a language at school or who are self-taught is how to practice it, especially speaking. It isn’t always easy to practice speaking a foreign language, especially when you are unable to travel. Fortunately, there are tricks that can help, like tandem language learning and language exchange sites where you can meet people to practice.
In this article, you will find our selection of the best language exchange websites where you can find conversation partners and practice the foreign language you are learning.
The Best Sites for Language Exchanges: Where and How to Find Conversation Partners
If you want to practice a language, one of the most effective and fastest ways to find conversation partners is to take advantage of sites dedicated to language exchange using the tandem language learning formula.
Tandem language learning involves breaking a conversation down into two parts: roughly half of it takes place in your native language, and the other half in the native language of your partner, that is, your target language. Your partner could be from England, Spain, Portugal, Russia, or anywhere else! These exchanges are free; the principle is to exchange your time and language expertise. You both give something, and get back something very valuable in return. It’s a very effective method for practicing a language and making quick and impressive progress.
I’ve been using these sites for a long time. It’s great because it allows me to practice speaking and make friends with people from around the world. I find conversation partners very helpful both at the beginning of the learning process and later on, to maintain a learned language. For example, I have a lot of Spanish language exchange partners that help me maintain my level of Spanish.
Simply subscribe to one of these communities to get in touch with people from around the world who, like you, want to learn a language. If you study French, for example, you can find a few conversation partners from France who want to learn English and talk to them in English and French. While each site’s interface is different, the basic principle is the same:
- Sign up on one of the community websites (see our selection below).
- Find a conversation partner who speaks your target language and who wants to learn your native language. There’s usually lots of filters to help you find people easily. Because your focus is on pronunciation and speaking fluidly, you should aim to speak with somebody who’s native language is your target language. Finally, look for somebody with a similar level to you so that you both progress at the same rate. This makes the exchange much more equitable, and fun!
- Finally, just get in contact with your prospective partner! (Don’t worry — we’ve prepared a guide for getting started).
These sites work so well that over the years, many similar sites have emerged, and it can be difficult to choose one. Having tested dozens, I’ve picked out the best free sites dedicated to language exchange.
Before starting your first conversation, be sure to download our FREE language phrasebooks and review the basics for speaking in English, Spanish, Italian, German or Portuguese.
Where to Find Language Partners
Once on the site, click on “Community” and then “Find Language Partners.” You can choose which language your prospective partner speaks, specify your native language (Learning tab). We also recommend hitting the Native Speaker button. You can also choose which country they’re from, which is great for finding a specific accent. Part of setting up your profile is selecting which languages you’re learning and what level you’re at: try to be honest here — putting too low a level means you won’t make progress, and putting too high a level means you won’t understand your partner. If you can, the best is to take a language test to see where you fall on the European Framework (e.g. A2, B1, etc.)
If you want to focus all your time on just learning your target language, iTalki also offers you the possibility of paying for a tutor. There are lots of different tutors available, at very affordable rates. To give you an idea, Luca sometimes takes Portuguese conversation classes for less than $10/hour!
- The self-assessment system is based on the European Framework: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2
- Good graphics
- The search engine makes finding a perfect match for conversation partners very convenient
- The site has many members and you can find native speakers easily
- To start, you need to send a friend request and wait to be accepted.
- There is no internal video conferencing service so you need to use Skype or a similar service.
I like the Speaky app because you can start using it very quickly. It only takes two minutes to register (you can use your Facebook or Google account). Additionally, the “live” button helps you find conversation partners very easily: you can immediately see the people who are online and available to chat.
With the “Find Friends” menu, you have the opportunity to study someone’s profile well before initiating contact. You can see the languages they speak and those they are studying, their nationality, sex, age, and interests. Moreover, the search engine filter helps you identify those who speak your target language as their native language, or see the most active members. If you’re looking for a conversation partner, it is a waste of time to contact someone who hasn’t logged in for over a year! The site is completely free, and has recently been made accessible on Android.
- Easy to find a language partner quickly
- The chat system with the ability to correct others’ mistakes (and be corrected)
- The calling system (no need to go through Skype) with suggestions for topics and questions, the timer and the ability to take notes
- Badges and competitions motivate people to find a language tandem
- The live feature is nice, but it is hard to see your conversation partner’s level for sorting purposes
- It would be better to have more added filters and options to choose the appropriate language partners
- You have to register with a Facebook or Gmail account (although it does make signing up easy).
From the start menu, you can choose your preferred language exchange method: face-to-face conversation, voice chat or written correspondence. The search menu allows you to find a language partner to add to your network. Our team has only used this site to find English-speaking conversation partners, but you’ll have no trouble finding tandems for Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, etc.
- The search for partners by exchange mode (if you want to talk, no need to find someone who just wants to exchange letters)
- Fast and convenient website
- No integrated video chat (but you can use Skype)
- It is not clear whether a user is online, so you first need to exchange messages
- You have to send each other messages before you can start your language exchange
HelloTalk (iPhone and Android app)
HelloTalk is an app that helps you to find language partners directly on your smartphone or tablet. You can converse over text or send small audio messages (like WhatsApp). You can send an invitation for free and start speaking with native speakers in minutes. Once you reach an appropriate level, you can also do voice or video chats. This language exchange app also has a whole suite of tools for helping you communicate (written and spoken translations, for example).
More than a million people use HelloTalk web and the HelloTalk language exchange app to speak in over 100 languages. Thanks to the app’s success, it’s transformed itself into a lively social network, with a newsfeed and many people who post photos and videos, and comment in every different language. It’s a great space for zoning out on social media while practicing your language skills!
Tip: To find good conversation partners more easily, set your filter to display only the people who took the time to complete their profile (or who are online), as, unfortunately, there are a lot of inactive users.
- Allows you to practice on your smartphone, which does not take much time
- Social network with chat, audio calls, and integrated video
- We especially like the voice message, and translation/correction system.
- Good exchange platform
- Not always easy to find people who are online and active (depending on what time you are available and what language you are learning).
- Not very suitable for iPads or tablets, as it takes a little time to get used to the interface and find all options.
MyLanguageExchange is one of the best known language exchange sites, and has a quite good reputation online. There are lots of people to exchange with, and 2/3 of the users are active and have regular exchanges. This is great because, regardless of which site you choose, you’ll end up finding two or three good partners to speak with in the long run — which is really all you need to make progress.
The site is similar to the others on this list. You sign up, create a free profile, and set off to meet millions of language learners from all over the world. With MyLanguageExchange, you can filter profiles by country, languages spoken, and age, which helps you find the right language partner.
- Well-known site, so there are close to 3 million members in 133 countries, making it easy to find language partners, and especially language partners at the same level as you
- You can communicate via email or voice chat, which means that, based on your goals and level, you can improve your spoken or written correspondence.
- …up to a certain point. To make real use of the site as a discussion platform, either you or your language partner will need to have a subscription. Regrettable for a free language exchange site — but otherwise, you can easily exchange on skype, by email or by telephone.
- The user interface and graphics of MyLanguageExchange are, as you’ve surely noticed, quite dated. But really, what’s more important: an interface that’s easy on the eyes, or rich and interesting language exchanges?
Once you’ve picked a language exchange site, it’s time to jump in! When this article first came out, a number of you wrote to us asking for some tips on taking your first steps and, especially, the best way to take advantage of this method. Here are our best tips to help you get started:
Yep, this is one of the most important points. If you want to make progress, it’s essential to find a language partner that’s at about the same level in their target language as you are in yours. This way, you can advance together, at the same pace, and it will be equally rewarding and challenging for both of you.
Before starting your first conversation, you can prepare some material of which you may have need. Notably: an English/target-language dictionary (e.g. English/French or English/Spanish dictionary) — the best is an online one, already open in a new tab, for finding words quickly. You should also check out one of our conversation guides. Again, keep it open and at hand.
All in the interest of good fun, of course! Don’t forget that this is an exercise that should be fun. Nonetheless, it’s good to set some ground rules, especially concerning the time spent in one language or another. Otherwise, you risk becoming an amateur English teacher, or taking advantage of somebody’s kindness (or poor time management skills…) — neither of which is the goal here! You can split it up as you like: 50/50 each session, or one session English and one session in your target language, or swap every 10 or 15 minutes. You can even alternate your phrases: you speak in your target language, and your partner responds in English! It’s up to you, but deciding all this in the beginning will help you get into a good rhythm. It will also help you figure out if you “click” well.
During your first exchanges, you’ll want to start by introducing yourself and asking some of the standard questions: Where are you from? What’s your line of work? How long have you been studying English? To quickly find new, more interest subjects, don’t hesitate to ask your interlocutor what they’d like to do in life and why they’ve decided to learn English. The point is to find some common interests in these first few exchanges that will allow you to have enriching conversations moving forward.
One last thing, before your language exchange: learn the most essential phrases for expressing yourself, especially, for example: “Can you please repeat yourself?” or, “How do you say _____?” This will allow you to have a fluid back-and-forth, even when you don’t understand everything 100%. You can find all these important phrases in Explore > Categories > The Basics > Starting a Conversation in your MosaLingua app. Learn them, and keep them at hand while chatting with your conversation partners.
For even more great information and to get ready for your language exchange, check out our article on the Seven Golden Rules of Studying with a Language Partner.
Finding the right site is only half the battle. To considerably improve your speaking skills you really need to have frequent conversations with your conversation partner(s). In this video, Alizah talks about the importance of language exchange sites for practicing a language, without ever leaving your house. She also gives you three great tips to help you make friends with somebody on the other side of the world. Plus, how to make rapid progress by speaking in your target language.
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for lots more great content, techniques, tips and exercises for improving in your target language and having fun: Subscribe to the MosaLingua YouTube channel.
Finding a language partner and jumping into your language exchange doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow the advice in this video and be sure to have fun! You can find it on our YouTube channel, or watch it here:
Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more language tips and hacks!
In our opinion, the best language exchange websites are iTalki and Go Speaky, and the best language exchange app is Hello Talk. However, this may depend on personal taste, so try them out and pick the one you like best.
All these sites are very useful, and you will not struggle to find conversation partners with them. Many other language exchange sites offer similar services, but we wanted to give you the best to save you time. For completeness sake, I’ll mention those that didn’t seem as good or functional to me. For instance, Verbling which used to be free but now is paid, Livemocha, Busuu, 12Speak, and Free4Talk (which is primarily for English learners). My Happy Planet is fine but not yet available for many languages. Some sites, like Polyglot Club, appear to be best suited for people who prefer offline interactions.
Also, be sure to sign up for our FREE language learning kit that covers all the basics of your target language.
The next article is devoted to practicing a foreign language by meeting people in the real world.
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