I’ve had lots of great LE and can’t recommend it strongly enough. If you want to avoid LE partners who just want to be clingy friends, then be business-like about the arrangement. If they don’t have a clue how to teach, then tell them your job duties have increased and you need a break from the LE. Then find another LE partner. There’s necessarily a bit of fishing involved to find a good one, so just expect that in advance.
Tealit isn’t the only place to find one btw. I’ve used Taiwanted here on Forumosa, with spectacular success. I’ve also posted an add down at a university’s physical bulletin board and got a great LE out of it.
As for finding it easier to speak in Chinese during the whole session, that may be true if your Chinese is far stronger than their English. But you can do a couple things to prevent that: 1) take only LE partners whose English is stronger (talk on the phone first and you’ll know), and 2) set fixed times for each language (e.g., English for the 1st half hour; Chinese for the 2nd).
i have some thoughts after posting on tealit and sorting through the flood of replies. i should note that this is my first wave of language exchange partners, so i might be over-generalizing a bit. furthermore, my goal is only conversation and making myself understandable, so it might differ from you.
-avoid people with chinese teaching credentials. maybe this is just biased for me, but i met with two and can’t say that i learned anything from either.
-avoid cram school teachers. they all seemed reluctant to speak with me in chinese, and would prefer to explain everything in english rather than have me struggle through things in chinese. a lot of conversations also seemed to drift towards to talking about the unproductive foreigners at their school.
-prepare what you want to study. if you leave it to hoping on catching a good teacher, you will probably have to meet a dozen or so people, like i did. just spell out their duties explicitly. you will probably still have to spend a bit of time finding good people, but in my experience, it makes it easier if you at least come prepared with what you want to study.
-be specific about sticking to chinese for half of the time, and then english for the other half.
-only pick people with actual learning goals. i met with a few whose goal was basically to ‘learn english,’ and not surprisingly, they didn’t put much effort into the ‘teach chinese’ part of the exchange. on the other hand, i study with one girl who has me correct her accent at every turn for an hour, and i am rewarded with two hours of quality chinese.
this is just my opinion from weeding through a bunch of replies on tealit. good luck!
My best quality LE were with people with teaching credentials, both English and Chinese, and the teachers have been more patient and knowledgeable about how to teach. So I certainly wouldn’t rule those kinds out.
Most of us here have some teaching experience at least, so finding a LE partner with teaching experience is not necessary. Just be direct, tell them what you want to do, come prepared with activities, and show them how to teach the way you want them to teach you.
I had one LE who wouldn’t or couldn’t do what I wanted, so I dropped him. Another one taught Chinese well enough, but in return wanted me to write all of his university English essays; I dropped him too. Everyone else has been very good.
[quote]Although I am sad and lonely, I don’t really want to find friends or girlfriends or wives under the auspices of ‘LE.’
So, I was wondering (having heard rumours contrary to my experience) if there are people out there with good experiences and tips for successfully arranging, executing and learning from LE. [/quote]
First, I have yet to meet a good Chinese language exchange on tealit. The biggest problem is that the people are not really dedicated to meeting you regularly. I have done language exchanges in Korea and Taiwan. The best results have been when I asked someone to do language exchange that I knew personally. I also looked for someone who would be dedicated to doing it and would not flake out.
I have also had better results with Korean language exchanges in Taiwan than with Mandarin. My boss is the only consistent language exchange partner I have found.
Arrive with materials, preview if necessary then insist they correct you at every turn. Insist on a balance btwn Eng and Chinese. Make sure they do the same. If they have no goals and no focus they’ll quickly lose interest and won’t try particularly hard to make it a worthwhile experience for you.
having said all that, I still haven;t found what I would call a great LE.
I think the best place to look is at Taiwanese teachers that want to improve their English. I take Chinese classes but I do language exchange to go over daily things I need to know that are not covered in class. But now I am reading a children’s encyclopedia of scientific discovery.
I’ve been resisting doing LE because of all the associated issues of people wanting to be friends, not having a clue how to teach, it being easier to talk in Chinese, from previous experience.
However time is ticking buy and my financial situation continues to be a bit of a nightmare, dealing with other expenditures, etc, so I’m considering getting on tealit, etc, and arranging some LE.
Although I am sad and lonely, I don’t really want to find friends or girlfriends or wives under the auspices of ‘LE.’
So, I was wondering (having heard rumours contrary to my experience) if there are people out there with good experiences and tips for successfully arranging, executing and learning from LE.
I have a LE partner that is professional, comes prepared, and isn’t one to want to be your best friend. She’s not an English teacher, but she’s had previous LE experience with another student who is leaving Taiwan. I meet with her once a week, but she is looking for more LE partners. In general, if you do some work ahead of time and come prepared, you’ll get more out of it. Let me know if you’re interested in a reference.