18 In Korean learning journey (:

The 밀당 of language exchange 

Tell me I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Navigating through language exchange can be even harder and more confusing than 밀당 (the push-pull thing that both sexes engage in while trying to decide if the other party is interested in you).

FYI, I hate 밀당 and never quite knew how to do it. I feel like I’m the one that’s always there, earnest and easily attracted. (Not a good combi)

Language exchange can be even more confusing. Recently I started using one of those Apps and sites to find people to practice with and talk to.

The older I get, the more hesitant I get when initiating contact. Should I wait for someone to say hi? If I initiate the convo, would he think I’m interested in him? Maybe I should just add the person and wait for him/her to start the convo? 

Thoughts that go through my mind every time.

When the convo gets going, it gets even more confusing.

I thought this convo is going on fine! Why did he/she stop replying? Damn the message was read an hour ago and he/she is online now. Why no response?! Am I replying too fast?  Am I coming off as too earnest? 

I never quite understand how people would suddenly cut off contact. Whenever I thought the conversation was going on well, the person would just stop replying. Or not message again even when he/she said “let’s talk again tomorrow”.

Many times, I had people who seemed pretty serious about language exchange message me and then we set up a plan to get things going. Only that it ended up nowhere, with no progress. Weird. Why did you cut contact when you were the one more serious about it?

Nowadays I can never quite tell what the other person is thinking. Not getting a reply after you replied to the person’s question is the most frustrating thing ever. -.-

Am I scaring off the person by replying almost immediately to each message? (My phone is just forever with me…)

This whole experience is just confusing.

I’m quite aloof in real life but I do approach each language exchange with the mindset that I’m gaining a new friend. So I do put in some 감정 each time. And hence it is sad when I don’t get a reply.

I must be crazy because I keep going to check whether I get new messages or not.  But then again this habit is not just for this, I check my emails / SNS etc super regularly lol. But it’s such a disappointment when the other party can disappear for days. :/ 

I’m also quite tired of all those superficial and short conversations that never get anywhere. -.-

Please share your experiences with language exchange!! 😀 and some tips please. 

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Jonathan
    28 December, 2015 at 6:23 PM

    I can’t take language exchange conversations too seriously. People get busy and even if it’s a big chat room on kakaotalk or line for language exchange it always ends up dead. I also don’t try to figure out how someone feels based on if they responded or not. I don’t take it personally, it’s easier that way. I have a few Korean friends that I just use Korean with on kakaotalk. I do think it’s easier to be interested if the other person is the opposite sex, naturally. Honestly I keep finding or am being found by others on hellotalk or Lang-8 so that I can always practice Korean. Some conversations die early, some keep going on. Meet enough people and you will have some long time friends out of those eventually.

    • Reply
      Hangukdrama
      28 December, 2015 at 8:10 PM

      Yeah I guess i should just keep it light and not take it too personally >< But I guess it's just my personality to be 진지하다/earnest about things haha.

  • Reply
    The Takoyaki Chapter
    28 December, 2015 at 7:12 PM

    I can empathise since I’ve experienced this both times I’ve language exchanged. I can only suppose some people simply see exchanges as a no strings transaction. Once the session’s over, or it’s not quite their cup of tea, they don’t feel obliged to keep in contact. Although, I don’t get those people who initiate a meetup and don’t follow through – that’s just rude!

    I would say also, I’ve had some friends who I’ll be having a messaging conversation with, who will just suddenly stop. I used to get mad, but nowadays with so many things in life requiring attention, I don’t have the energy to care. Don’t worry too much, there’ll be like-minded exchangers out there!

    • Reply
      Hangukdrama
      28 December, 2015 at 8:12 PM

      Yeah most conversations are just so.. bland haha. I feel like I’m always the one trying to find something to talk about o.O. I should learn to stop caring too! Thanks for leaving a comment and I enjoyed reading about your recent JLPT experience!

  • Reply
    John Welkener
    28 December, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    It’s hard living in a virtual world, when sometimes what you need is a flesh and blood person sitting across from you, who can tell from one glance into your eyes without you talking, what you are thinking and/or feeling. I think that’s part of the challenge with online language exchanges like HelloTalk and Kakaotalk. I have both and use both, but just like Facebook and any other social networking tool, I get sick of it rather quickly. If the chat or conversation is not moving towards an actual physical encounter (and no I am not necessarily referring to hooking up or sexting or whatever) then I rapidly lose interest. I want tangible interaction. That can sometimes be found online, sometimes, but mostly I feel I need to find friends in the physical world to keep me going.

    • Reply
      Hangukdrama
      29 December, 2015 at 11:03 AM

      I find it quite hard to meet right at the start though, at least texting won’t result in much awkwardness haha. But I do agree that it’s really hard to maintain a good conversation and relationship just by chatting. The few language exchange friends that I’m closer with now are those whom I’ve met before.

  • Reply
    Farah
    29 December, 2015 at 2:06 AM

    I totally agree with you! I met some friends on lang-8, some whom we just talked through lang-8 pm and some through kakaotalk. I’m glad i got to know an 언니 and a couple of friends whom i can get really along with. But the rest are just…..meh… Most people tend to just off the convo after several days. Maybe it’s because i’m too boring to talk to ㅋㅋㅋ

    But oh well, i’m just glad to be able to make friends with native speakers haha

    • Reply
      Hangukdrama
      29 December, 2015 at 11:04 AM

      hahaha I often wonder if I was too boring too ><;;;

  • Reply
    Alina
    29 December, 2015 at 6:06 AM

    Wow I am so glad you wrote this. So many people have been raving about their language exchanges on Hello Talk and I rarely manage to keep a conversation alive for more than a few days; I thought that I was crazy! I think that like all relationships there is a certain chemistry to language exchanges and it takes meeting a lot of people to find the right language partner. Even after finding the right person, it takes considerable effort from both parties to keep the exchange going. I don’t really have any advice for finding a good language exchange but thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Reply
      Hangukdrama
      29 December, 2015 at 11:05 AM

      I have ZERO luck with that app. Tried it several times and nobody talks to me / nobody replies me for long hahaha!! Yeah I agree on the chemistry! It’s hard to find someone that would actually put in the effort to keep the conversation going.

  • Reply
    Piu
    29 December, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    It’s me who found the same feeling after reading this post. I could never find one that can have long time talking in their native language. All ends up in failure after first convo. Then I think that maybe they are busy or my ability to express the language is too low that they find bored???
    Then I give up language exchange online. I have learned Korean for nearly 1 year and I have some Korean friends who are also my students because they are learning Vietnamese. This helps me a little in listening skill and talking. Just a little because we almost use English haha

    • Reply
      Hangukdrama
      29 December, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      hahaha I’m always in the cycle of giving up and then giving it another chance again. (right now I feel like giving up) Thanks for reading! (:

  • Reply
    Lauren
    29 December, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    I remember doing something skmilar in my early days of learning japanese where I would talk to japanese people in chat rooms. Now I value my time that can be spent on input from japanese tv or japanese books so I see no point in chatting online. Of course I see value in talking to people face to face

    • Reply
      Hangukdrama
      29 December, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      I just want the practice of writing and communicating. I’m getting quite ok with listening and reading but speaking/writing is still a hurdle

  • Reply
    Rhoi
    29 December, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    It’s exactly the same with me. In a nutshell, I think different people simply approach it differently, and we have to be aware we’re not all on the same page, same level of intent, etc., and just accept people will disappear. Our effort needs to be on finding, connecting with, and keeping the right ones.

    I’ve set certain rules for myself which has helped a lot, and it’s working for me, but it’s friend-focused rather than study focused, which limits its effectiveness for practice, but is what I prefer. At the end of this comment, I’ll point out my recent change in approach, but it’s too early to tell. So I’m mainly just sharing my experience.

    I only contact people myself if I see something interesting or something that we share listed in their profile. My profile has a note that says your message should show me you read it. If anyone contacts me and just says hi or a cliche “let’s practice together”/”I want to learn…”, I just ignore / delete. Anyone wanting this for an exam / near-future end goal is also out. I have nothing against those people or those efforts, but I’m just looking for something deeper than just literal 50/50 language exchange. I’m hoping for people who wouldn’t want to disappear, especially considering I’m not doing very regimented study.

    The result? I’ve made friends, and we switch languages whenever we feel like it or feel it’s about time (span of a couple weeks or a month). We text, send voice messages, skype, and help each other with mistakes, questions, etc. Not all have worked out as language exchange, though. With a few, we found our new friendship more worthwhile than the language practice we were looking for, so we’ve settled just speaking the easier common language. Eg., with a certain Japanese friend, we only speak English; with a certain Chinese friend, we only speak Chinese. Doesn’t matter if the language practice is lopsided, we’re in it for the friendship now. In another case, we almost got into a romantic relationship!

    But there were definitely people that stopped replying, stopped visiting the site/app, etc., and I don’t know much about those things. The same thing happens with real life friends and texting, you just have to accept it happens. At least you can imagine better excuses with language exchange! They got busy and haven’t thought of studying and thus haven’t wanted to open the app, they realized it’s too much effort, they think it’s not working, changed phone / lost account access, or they themselves faced other people like this. 😛

    I had been talking for a month with someone for Taiwanese on HelloTalk and we were getting along really well and were sharing a lot and helping each other and all of a sudden – stopped visiting the app. Who knows.

    Some seem really enthusiastic and appreciate our similarities, but even if they’re the one more interested, they just barely talk and give the shortest answers and don’t initiate. Well, I can only reply when there’s something to reply to!

    Someone else I was really getting along with for Japanese and Korean, having fun, sharing and helping each other a lot, suddenly disappeared from HelloTalk as well – then 2 months later found me on Facebook; she had simply forgotten her login details lol. Happy ending there.

    However, I’m changing my strategy a little bit now because I really want to get a more regular language partner for certain languages or dialects (eg, Vietnamese or Shanghainese). So now, what I’m doing is that pretty early on I ask what they’re looking for, what area they want to improve, is Skyping ok, etc., and trying to set a weekly meeting. So far it’s been working, but it’s only been a couple of months. We’ll see what happens!

  • Reply
    meloncreme
    29 December, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    I haven’t found much success in finding the right language exchange partner either. I also have the tendency to overthink and freak out when I try to initiate a conversation with them. Even choosing whether I should go for a female or a male language exchange partner is tough because when I talk to girls, most of them just give me short replies which makes the conversation too boring for both of us that one of us eventually just stops replying. On the other hand, when I talk to guys, some of them are stiff and too serious. Some of them are… well, in the middle of the conversation, I say some word and they will say some “fun facts” about that word and it comes with a very lengthy explanation which kinda ruins the mood because after his nerdy moment, I just don’t know what to say anymore. Lol. It’s not that I’m not interested about the new information they’re providing me but there’s a right time for that and a right manner of doing it coz most of the time, it’s like I’m in a class with a boring professor. The ones who are fun, well, we end up talking a lot because the conversation keeps going (although sometimes it takes them a few hours to reply) and then all of a sudden, they start telling me that they have developed feelings for me which is not what I’m looking for at the moment. Lol.

    I envy people who have language partners that they’ve been in contact with for a long time and they even send each other care packages. I’m not expecting that my partner would give me packages since I’m not very comfortable letting people know my complete address. I just expect a good friendly relationship and with no romance and more learning. Haha!

  • Reply
    Kwann
    30 December, 2015 at 8:59 PM

    Omg, I feel exactly the same way as you! That’s why I think if the person decides to meet you, then that friendship will last longer. Well, of course if the meet up doesn’t turn out well, they don’t reply afterwards too. Haha, I always have the mindset of becoming friends instead of just language buddies too, so I totally understand you 🙁 Maybe 1/10 will become your true friend haha. I felt like this post is written by me too cos of the same thoughts we have haha.
    Good luck in finding your new true friend! Haha.

  • Reply
    Jamie
    23 April, 2016 at 9:42 AM

    Wow, I relate to this so much, oh my gosh. I actually have deleted hellotalk for the third time because even with filters, so many people still message but don’t actually have anything interesting to say or want to ask any interesting questions. It’s definitely the 밀당 of language exchange….ㅜㅜ But on the bright side, I do actually have a really good language partner who answers my questions and tells me funny cultural things, but finding one….I hope I don’t have to do that again any time soon.

    I guess the only tip I have is that you can usually tell early on if someone isn’t going to be a good partner. It’s the ones that talk a lot initially and suddenly disappear without any notice that really are frustrating – couldn’t you at least say “I’m sorry – I got to busy”?

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