We are testing penpal sites – for you!
We know that sometimes it can be hard to find an exchange partner where you live, so we decided to test various sites and let you know what we think. Please let us know if there are any others you can recommend.
The internet is changing the way people learn foreign languages. It is removing previous barriers, so that everyone can have access to language partners and language materials.
fluentfuture is a portal where you can find native speakers to practice with. They say about themselves that fluentfuture is a new online venture that brings elements of social networking to language tutoring. You can sign up as either a student or a teacher. You can practice your vocabulary, get help from other members when completing exercises, chat to other members online or via Skype, join communities on various topics and watch video lessons. You can further submit resources for others to use.
A basic account is free. Paid accounts receive access to premium features, such as personalised lessons from rated teachers. Good privacy options.
italki is a language learning social network and market place that connects students and language teachers. You can find language partners, free materials created by teachers and network members, write a blog (“notebook”) and join a language network. You can also join study and discussion groups, book paid lessons with tutors or find language learning materials in the marketplace. You can further submit resources for others to use.
A basic account is free. You can pay for personalised lessons with tutors.
JuJu is a site where you can find pen friends from all over the world. You can add friends to your profile, add photos, write a blog, and more. Only friends can comment on your profile.
A basic account is free.
LiveJournal is not a dedicated language learning site. It is a social journal service where users can share common passions and interests. You can write your own journal and there are many communities you can join in with, on all sort of topics. There are also specific communities for language learning to give tips and help you find exchange partners. There are journals in most languages.
A basic account is free. Paid accounts receive access to premium features.
Writing a blog can help you keep track of your learning and celebrate achievements. Commenting on other people’s blogs will help you interact in the language you are learning. There are some good tips available at Linguanet Europa.
Another good way to get contacts in the language you are learning are ordinary social networks. There you can make friends and chat to people in an informal environment. Some of the most common social networks are Facebook and MySpace. Others might be more country-specific, such as Hyves in Belgium and the Netherlands or studiVZ in Germany.
On many of those you can also join groups and discussions about topics that interest you. It’s much easier to learn a language when you can talk about stuff relevant to you!
You can also try virtual worlds, such as Second Life, to meet people who you can chat to, or take part in discussion forums about topics that interest you from a country where they speak the language you are learning. A lot of those will show up in a simple Google search.
I can also recommend twitter for language learning. As messages can only be 140 characters long it is similar to chatting but you can have a time delay (it’s not live chat, so less pressure) which gives you time to think about what you want to say. You can also follow users who write in your chosen language and learn from what they say.
It all depends on the language you are learning as well! Some materials and networks are easier to access but don’t despair -there’s stuff for everyone out there!
By the way, some of these sites are recommended on Linguanet Europa, which is a very useful resource.