The big benefit of language exchange apps, in theory, is that they get you speaking to a native user of your target language. So really, you’re getting writing practice, rather than that all-important speaking practice.
The Mixxer is a website designed to combat this problem. Users have to connect to their accounts to Skype straight away. You can message other students before video chatting with them, of course, but it’s for people who are looking for live speaking practice rather than someone to text.
It was created by a teacher of Japanese from a college in Pennsylvania, USA. On the one hand, this means that the website is a run without a budget. This means it can’t attract millions of members, or moderate users to behave professionally. On the other hand, it was created purely for the needs of language students, with no business goals to prioritize. There are even free conversation starters to help users structure their sessions productively.
Are you uncomfortable jumping into video chat without screening your language exchange partner first? If so, that’s understandable and this site might not be for you. If you’re willing to take a slight risk, however, then this site might be a surprise winner.
If you want to message a native speaker in the next five minutes, you can make that happen with Speaky. After setting your interests, you are shown a tiled screen of users online learning your language. You can message anyone, and anyone can message you. There is the option to hide your profile from people of the opposite gender. If you are a woman, this is probably worth doing, just in case!
At the moment, users can’t video chat or call each other, so if you are looking for speaking practice, you should look elsewhere. Some students also find the app buggy, claiming that it has deleted their messages for no reason. However, it does have tons of members, so there will always be someone available to message in real-time right now, whenever “right now” happens to be.
Texting new friends is great practice, but actually meeting fluent speakers is the real deal! If you are able to travel to big towns and cities, it’s worth going to an in-person language exchange, even if you’re nervous. Meetup is a website for planning gatherings of strangers around a common interest. It has a big presence in Europe and the Americas, and language exchange is one of its most popular event categories.
You can search by city and by language. Meetups are usually free or cheap, and often take place in a bar FCN chat, cafe or park. Sometimes exchanges involve fun activities like dance classes or bowling, to give students something to talk about. Of course, your opportunities will depend on where you are in the world, but if you’re learning the language of a country which you’ve just relocated to, then what are you waiting for? Don’t let fear hold you back – everyone else will be in just the same situation as you are!
If you like the idea of finding one long-term study buddy for language exchanges, but don’t like old-fashioned websites, then “the front page of the internet” might be a surprisingly good choice. Reddit has some very weird corners, but there’s a thriving forum for almost any topic, and language learning is no exception. Reddit itself isn’t very suited to hosting language exchanges, but you can easily find another student to pair up with, then organize an exchange with them using video chat on another platform.
Written by : Nikki Woods
I teach entrepreneurs and influencers how to grow their business to 6 figures+ by leveraging the media and monetizing their expertise.