How to have a language exchange

My goal with learning Spanish from the start has been focused on being able to have a spoken conversation. To achieve this, I needed to find people to practice speaking with. Go figure! So about a year ago, I began using an language exchange application called Hellotalk. Over the past year, I’ve had well over 100 calls in Spanish. Here’s how I did it.

1. Build a strong profile.

Similar to online dating, the interest you get from others is dependent on the strength of your profile. As a starting point, you should have a profile picture of you and a bio in your target language. My bio looked something like:

“Hey, I’m Drew. *emoji*

I like *insert hobbies*.

I’d like to improve my conversational Spanish.

If you’d like to practice with me through calls, don’t hesitate to write to me! *emoji*”

For more visibility, regularly post moments (status updates).

2. Chat enough to transition to a call.

The goal of written conversation is to see if you get along enough to have a call. So just have a chat and see if it flows. After some exchange, put the question of practicing through a call out there. Some people will never be comfortable with a call and that’s fine. It’s better to know after the first conversation than after the 10th.

3. Set up a calling schedule.

You call someone and it goes well, great!

From here, I suggest setting up a schedule to call with a strict structure. For example, calling for one hour per week with half completely in Spanish and half in English. Once a schedule is set up, you can start getting hours of practice in.

Some other things: Whatsapp has better audio. Video calls are more fun but not necessary. Having google translate at the ready is very helpful.

Tip 1: The smaller the time difference, the easier to schedule.

Time difference can be a problem for organising calls leaving only the weekends open. To mitigate this, consider connecting to people in similar time zones. It’s highly likely that there are foreigners living near you that have basic English and are learning.

Tip 2: Practice with someone at a similar level to you.

I’ve met a few people with advanced English that just can’t help but only speak English. I’ve also met people that speak so little English that they’re too nervous to practice with what they know. Out of the two, someone that speaks little English is better. However in my experience, finding a partner with a similar level and a clear learning goal to works best.