i’m planning to study at NTU CLD in the summer (commencing May). I heard in addition to the course, the fastest way to excel is to practice speaking, and as such I was wondering what’s the best way to find language exchange partners? I heard NTU CLD has a board where students post LE ads. I also noticed some on Tealit.
What have your experiences been with these? Are they also a great way to make friends with locals?
Why seek for a specific LE partner? Just make some local friends bro.
Once you do, they will be inclined to correct your Chinese, help you integrate better and you will be eating beetlenuts in no time.
Here are ways I met my language exchange partners. I have literally had to turn down language exchange partners because if you’re dilligent about finding them, you’ll find way more than you can possibly meet with on a regular basis.
Go to meetup.com and look at the Taipei meetups. There’s several language exchange meetups.
There’s also several language exchange groups on Facebook. Join them, say “hi” and you’ll get a ton of people who want to be your friend.
Go to okcupid.com. Yes, it’s a dating website. But you’d be suprised how many people there are just looking for language exchange partners. (But be careful of the people who say they’re looking for language exchange partners but are actually looking for a relationship. This applies to all the methods you use to find LE partners, not just on okcupid)
Pay attention to bulletin boards, especially the bulletin boards near your classrrooms. Taiwanese students know where the foreigners are and will post flyers, looking for language exchange partners. There may not be flyers near YOUR classroom, but wander around the building and keep an open eye.
Go to church. Some churches are more welcoming than others. I stumbled into a church where I got invited out to lunch after my first visit. That’s how I knew I wanted to come back to that church and not look for other churches. I ended up meeting the majority of my Taiwanese friends at that church.
Talk to random people. Go to the same street vendor every day and talk to them while they make your food. Talk to the people you sit next to on the bus or Metro. Go to events sponsored by the city (ataipei.net/op/newslist) and ask people why they’re there. If your Chinese sucks and you could never do this, approach people in English until you find someone who is able and willing to reply to you and after conversing for a while in English, ask if they can help you practice your Chinese. If people blow you off and they treat you like “that annoying guy” don’t worry because you’ll probably never see them again. But this actually rarely happens.
I know some of my methods aren’t particularly kosher and do require guts… but the truth is that the more bold you are about doing crazy things to make friends, the more friends you’ll make. The “safe and easy” methods of meeting LE partners didn’t work out too well for me… so I needed to be more outgoing and force my way into other people’s social circles… and I met some really good friends that way. Remember that the worst thing that happens is that people will walk away from you. But the best thing that can happen is you can meet a new best friend… so the reward outweighs the risk tremendously!
Unfortunately i’m not religious, so that rules out going to church, however meetup.com and the bulletin boards sound great
In your experience Caspian, did these LE partners end up becoming friends you could hang with to do things other than practice chinese/english? I’m a bit worried about being a loner given i’ll be studying at NTU CLD and classes are only a size of 6 max.
Like anything else it depends on the other person, your own personality and what you put into the relationship/exchange. My best friend is in Kaohsiung and we met in 1997 through a language exchange web site and still hang out when I’m in Taiwan. She has also visited us in the States. Other ones, I couldn’t possibly tell you what happened to them after a few sessions.
It really depends. I’ve gone through probably over a dozen language exchange partners and most of them had a specific reason why they were studying English. Maybe they were preparing for the TOEFL or something like that. Once they met their goal, they disappeared entirely. Some of them were girls looking for a boyfriend and once it became clear that I’m only interested in learning Chinese, they also disappeared. But a minority of my language exchange partners have become a very close friends. We meet every week without fail for LE and sometimes meet more times throughout the week just for fun. (I got lucky and my first LE partner is now my best friend in Taipei)
If you’re dedicated to finding LE partners, you will find them. I’m naturally a bit shy but I had to force myself to become outgoing for the sake of making friends. Once I had “enough” LE partners, I’d stop being so outgoing and just hang out with the friends I had already made. Then, LE partners would start quitting on me, so I’d once again force myself to become outgoing again to fill my schedule back up.
Don’t allow yourself to be a loner. If, at any point while you’re in Taiwan you feel bored, attend the LE-related events happening on meetup.com and facebook. There’s enough of that stuff happening to keep you busy. That’s what I did when I first arrived in Taiwan… but I hate groups because I’d much rather meet one-on-one. But eventually I made enough friends that I quit attending the group meetings.
There are millions of people in this city. Every day, you will pass hundreds of people on your way to school and back. So, if you’re bored, just try to be a little bit outgoing and you’re bound to meet someone. While the street vendor makes your food, ask them if they have a kid who wants to learn English (doesn’t work too often but it’s worth a shot). Go go crazyblinddate.com (not a super active site in Taipei but it’s not completely dead, either). At the very least, you’ll have stories to tell besides sitting at home and watching TV .