The Benefits of a Language Partner
Having a language partner is extremely useful. You’re able to practice speaking Chinese with them, so you will end up more comfortable using Chinese. Your partner can help correct your pronunciation, so it’ll be easier for Chinese speakers to understand you. You’ll also learn how Chinese people actually speak. It won’t be generic textbook stuff but actual phrases and words that Chinese people use. I’ll explain what qualities to look for in a good Language Partner
- Similar Interests
- Standard Accent
The most important quality is consistency. I’ve had a language partner before where we only talked about once a month. If you don’t constantly interact with your language partner, then you are not going to improve much / at all. It’s important to set aside some time every few days in order to get a good conversation and learning experience happening.
The key thing about language partners is that they are Partners. It can’t be one sided towards any person. You two are both trying to learn a different language, so it can’t be focused on only one person. In order to keep things fair, you guys could dedicate half of your conversation to talking in Chinese and the other half in English. If you want it to be dedicated completely to learning Chinese, then I recommend finding a tutor.
When you first learn a language, you are definitely going to be making mistakes. That’s perfectly normal. You just have to learn from your mistakes. Your language partner should point out your mistakes to you. Sometimes people may feel bad about constantly correcting a person, but it’s honestly the best way to learn. Tell them that you’re open to mistakes and they should correct you whenever possible. You should be willing to do the same, so you both can improve as much as possible.
It’s best to actually become friends with your language partner. I’ve seen a lot of language partnerships fail because the two didn’t actually become friends with one another. You don’t want to cycle through greetings and formalities. It’s best to have something in common that you two can talk about. From that, you guys can dive into other topics.
This may not be completely necessary. However, it’s important to note that some areas have their own dialect. Other Chinese people may not even be able to understand them easily. One notable region is Sichuan. There was a T.V show that featured Americans and Europeans who learned Chinese. There was one guy who learned how to speak Sichuan style Chinese, and it was extremely difficult for all of the other people on the show to understand him. It’s still Chinese, but I think the easier people can understand you the better.