The Study Chinese in Taiwan Blog
I'm currently a student at National Taiwan Normal University's Mandarin Training Center studying Mandarin Chinese. In this blog I'll talk about all the challenges, surprises and important lessons I learn along the way!
Finding a Chinese Language Exchange Partner
Looking to do language exchange in Chinese? Good idea!
Prior to my arrival in Taiwan, I had already self-studied my way to the 1,000 characters memorized mark. When it came to actually understanding what people were saying though, I was clueless unless they enunciated every word slowly, one word at a time. My 1,000 character vocabulary was not very useful to say the least!
If memorizing 1000 characters doesn’t sound like fun, I strongly recommend you find a Chinese language exchange partner right now. When it comes to interacting with Chinese speakers in normal everyday settings, it will much more useful to you to have a solid, working grasp at a conversational level of 100 characters than having memorized 1000 characters removed from all context.
Also, not all of the words you self-study will be useful. Having a Mandarin language exchange partner will provide you with the opportunity to focus on those words and phrases used in everyday speech.
Two excellent places to find Mandarin language exchange partners are:
Live Mocha:http://www.livemocha.com/ (requires a free, live mocha account)
Tealit Language Exchange Forum: http://www.tealit.com/ad_categories.php?section_id=32&subsection_id=19&content_mode=2
Tealit Mandarin Language Exchange Forum
The Tealit website was originally built for English teachers in Taiwan and is specific to Taiwan. The Tealit language exchange forum is just a bulletin board where people post what sort of language exchange partner they’re looking for.
Tealit.com is an excellent website to visit to find a Taiwanese language exchange partner as well as become friends with local Taiwanese prior to your arrival. If you’re certain about coming to Taiwan, I strongly recommend checking here before Live Mocha.
Live Mocha bills itself as the world’s largest online learning community. If you’re a native English speaker, you’ll have no problems finding Mandarin speakers happy to act as your Chinese language exchange partner. Actually, facilitating Chinese language exchanges is only a small fraction of what Live Mocha can do, and rather than acting as an ad for Live Mocha, I’ll leave it to you to discuss all its other features.
Be aware though that most of the Chinese speakers on Live Mocha are mainland China Mandarin speakers who speak with a slightly different accent and word usage from Mandarin speakers in Taiwan. For the most part, this is only an issue if you care whether you have a slightly noticeable Mainland China accent. (Taiwanese themselves will not care if foreigners do.)
Other Places to Find Partners for English-Chinese Language Exchange
Most Mandarin schools in Taiwan offer their own programs for partnering foreign students with Chinese language exchange partners. If your school doesn't, check the notices bulletin board at your school or the two places listed above. You may also have some luck finding partners for English-Chinese language exchange on Craigslist.