11 In Korean learning journey (:

My thoughts on language exchange

Honestly, not my cup of tea. I have both good and bad things to say about the subject, but the conclusion is that it’s not for me.

A social activity

My anti-social self has turned language learning (a social activity no matter how you look at it) into a loner activity. I prefer to learn without instruction, swoon over the romance in dramas and simply read. And read. I aim to be fluent in all aspects, but to be very honest, I learn languages not to communicate with people but to be exposed to a wider range of entertainment, literature and culture.

Which makes language exchange terrible for me.  In many many ways.

Online or offline

Personally, I prefer online partners. Why? For the simple reason that it’s easier to cut off contact if I find said partner unsuitable or annoying or weird. Commitment is never my type so I would rather keep things simple. Most LE partners start off as strangers. It’s pretty rare to already know a friend and ended up being LE partners.

You can skype, text, write emails etc so medium is not a problem. You get to avoid all the weird awkward silences and save on the time and money on weekly meetups.


Like I mentioned, I have severe commitment issues. None of my numerous language exchange partners last. I won’t say it’s entirely my fault, but it’s always partially my fault.

Finding the perfect LE partner is tough. Most of the time, it feels like Im deliberately finding a topic to chat and that topic wont. even. last. Sigh. Weather, culture differences, reasons for studying the language, fav dramas or stars, education or work profile. Bam, that’s it.

Eg. A (female) had a lot in common with me. We were furiously texting each other and gushing over Kang Dong Won (lol) and other dramas we both love. Omg i finally found the perfect partner. BAM. We stopped texting each other within the week. No reason why. It felt like we had a great conversation and then ran out of steam.

Im not good with small talk, so…

LE is not language tuition

I hate it when people ask me to teach them a language. Helllo. Either sign up for classes or self study. Or engage me as a PAID tutor. A lot of LE partners like to tell me “hey, teach me English and I’ll teach you Korean” haha. No to the former and no need for the latter.

Goal setting

Now this is iffy. Is it better to simple converse about everything and any topic in a free and easy style? Or is it more useful to designate a topic everytime and only talk about that? What about sending each other essays to correct every week?

I tried all and the only one that seem to paritally work for me is free conversation. I know Im terrible but I always subscribe to the idea that if you are the initator or the one asking for a favor, then you should take more initiative. I met a few who wanted to do the “correct each other’s essay” type of LE but they arent even taking the initiative to email me or to actively make it work. :/

Sometimes it’s just annoying when you have different goals.

You type in one language, I answer in the other

Erm no. I had a lot of LEs where the person would want to speak English to me and I can answer in Korean. Which I find illogical, weird and ineffective.

I usually prefer to talk in one language in one session and then switch to the other language in the next.

Hey, what’s your ideal type?

Not you. A lot of people seem to treat LE as a way of meeting the opposite gender. Please dont be so obvious about it. :/ I had a lot of guys ask me stupid qns like my love life and relationship status and ideal types in the FIRST CONVO. And asked if we could meet up or skype. I find that downright creeeeeepy.

Which explains why I no longer use language exchange sites. 😐

To be honest, I only like LE as a way to practice daily conversation, whether via txt or skype or face to face. Other than that, it doesnt work for me.

I have nothing much to say to people in general, so unless the other person has a lot of common interests with me, it wouldnt last past a week.

any thoughts? Share your experiences!!

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  • Reply
    12 October, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    I have to agree with you haha. I’m really bad at small talk and after a while there’s nothing much to say really, unless you’ve been fairly good friends.

    At our University last year, we were required to meet our tandems a certain number of times to study/talk together, though even then you don’t have much to say or haven’t got stuff to go over… I’ve spoken the most Korean to one friend, whilst having and then ending conversations with other friends. ^^ I do end up using it on twitter, instagram etc…

    For me, I’m not really good at blogging (I started one but it’s mostly just pictures lol) but I’m thinking of making a Korean one on Naver to practice my Korean. ^^

    I agree with you~ I think natural conversation is probably better. ^^

  • Reply
    12 October, 2014 at 9:31 PM

    It’s been years, I have been into Korean language learning and I still don’t really have a stable language exchange partner. As you mentioned in the post, somehow for no reason, the relationship just stops and there won’t be any more conversations.

  • Reply
    12 October, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    I’ve had a numerous(online) language partners before. I think of all those language exchange encounters in a positive light.The last language partner I had is an elementary teacher. I’ve been missing her. I hope to have a language partner in person but have yet to meet one.

  • Reply
    13 October, 2014 at 1:15 AM

    I guess I’m really lucky to have met a LE partner by chance and everything about our daily lives became the centre piece and we’ve been going strong for about a year now. Have stopped looking for partners ever since then coz yeah, lots and lots of desperate people online :/

  • Reply
    13 October, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    It’s hard when the other partner is busy and not really motivated to work with you. It takes two proactive hands to clap.

    Also, I found it hard if their English/my Korean is not up to a certain standard, or if they are too good. During explanation it could be a problem too in understanding some concepts if we have trouble communicating in English (or Korean for that matter). And if the other person is too good, interactions will also decrease because they don’t had much to learn from you.

  • Reply
    13 October, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    I usually practice with Koreans on twitter and we talk about our common interests (fangirl stuff) and whenever I have a question they always help me out. I met someone on lang-8 before and we still talk to each other from time to time. I don’t teach them any english because they’re either learning chinese or japanese but they’re still willing to help me out. Great thing about it is that we talk in Korean.

  • Reply
    13 October, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    It’s like the same as online dating or if you were to try to make friends online. I have never tried to find language exchange partners. One barrier that I imagine will be significant is that it’ll be difficult for me to care what the other person says about his or her life. It’s a natural response

  • Reply
    14 October, 2014 at 1:06 AM

    I feel really related to what you are experiencing. My main issue is the time difference between my place and Japan (13 hours or so ><) So setting a time is always complicated as I work most mornings when they are free at night and vice versa.

    Small talk does not happen in any language for me. Not much is going on in my life so what do I talk about…

    Unfortunately, a lot of websites seem to include the dating part in their advertisements.

  • Reply
    14 October, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I’m on the same boat, I find it hard to extend such relationships beyond a week.
    It is mainly because as you said, there is nothing in common except for the language!
    + I mostly need to meet up with the person otherwise it won’t happen

  • Reply
    22 November, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Exactly my thoughts on LE. xD I feel you. -.-
    But I have a LE (I don’t think LE is the right word since theres no le happening xD) to whom sometimes I ask to correct my essays written in English. Hehe

  • Reply
    24 November, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Well my experience has the good and bad.

    there was this unnie whom I got to know through LE, we were all good that I even edited her resume for her. but well the conversation just died out one day..

    another example would be a guy whom i got to know through LE too. we started off as LE partners then it gradually became friends and lastly similarly to being like lovers.. we made time for each other despite he was on a working holiday at sydney and even prior before meeting up we made efforts for each other even internationally shipping items

    eventually we met up in korea in sep, we spent 7 days and nights together. guess i was just lucky

    i am quite sure most of them really simply want to be LE partners. if someone is hoping to find their other half through LE.. i wouldnt say its impossible but pretty hard

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