Having a language partner is the single most rewarding thing so far for me in my time of learning Japanese. It helps to:
- Improve your confidence in speaking Japanese.
- Have real life conversations not restricted to a textbook scenario.
- Get corrected instantly when you make mistakes, and learn from them.
- Meet new people and make great friends!
Studying from a textbook or watching anime can’t give you the natural,
organic experience of speaking to a real life Japanese person… But the difficult thing is actually finding one. Here’s some tips on how
to find a Japanese language partner, whatever your situation.
I’m at University and I need a Japanese language partner!
you’re at University, it’s probable that there are some Japanese
international students. The number of these will depend on the
University, but if you’re in a big city, you’re in luck! Japanese
students will often want to practice their English; don’t assume that
because they’re studying Chemistry that they aren’t interested in
improving English - after all, that’s most likely why they have come to
study abroad. Here’s some tips to find a Japanese language partner while
- Join the ‘Japanese society’ or ‘International Society’ on Facebook or University message forums - most Japanese students will
have joined these, and although you may not be Japanese or an
international student you are still allowed to join and communicate with
members. Post on the group saying you’re interested in language
exchange. - Find student message boards and post an ad for language exchange - there may be a language-exchange-specific message board posted around campus. Here, you can post and view other ads. - If you see Japanese students, approach them!
You may overhear Japanese students talking in Japanese if you know a
few phrases. Japanese people won’t be offended or annoyed if they’re
approached as long as you are polite. Just mention that you love
Japan/Japanese, and you’re starting to learn it. Even saying a few
simple phrases gets Japanese people excited as not many people learn
Japanese. Mention that you’re looking for a language partner and see if
they’re interested - most of the time Japanese will be too polite to say
no, so you might get an email or Facebook friend out of it, and you can
build a friendship from there. - Go to local Japanese/Asian supermarkets and ask to post an ad in the window -
Whilst studying abroad, Japanese people will most likely visit an asian
supermarket at some point to buy familiar supplies. By posting an ad in the
window (which you may be able to do for free), someone is sure to see it
I’m not at University, but I live in a place with some Japanese people in the community.
if you’re not in University, if there are Japanese people in your
community you still stand a good chance of finding a language partner.
Here’s a few ideas how:
- Join local Japanese meet-up groups
- if there are Japanese people in your community, you’re already
super-lucky! If you look around on Google, public message boards or
websites like Gumtree, you may stumble across Japanese meet-up groups.
These are for Japanese people, and people interested in Japanese, to
meet up (normally at a pub) to talk in Japanese and in English. This is a
great way to find a language partner. - If you see Japanese people, approach them!
Similar to being a University student, you are likely to hear/recognise
Japanese people if there is a number of them in your community. Don’t
be afraid to approach them and express your interest in Japanese and
finding a language partner. Japanese people who aren’t students but live
here aren’t necessarily going to be fluent, and in fact may be more
desperate to find a language exchange partner. - Go to a place popular for the Japanese community and post an ad -
Again, posting an ad in a Japanese restaurant, asian supermarket or
similar is a great way to find native Japanese people. Also, it’s a good
idea to post these ads in libraries and other public message areas, as
these will be viewed by a larger number of people (who may be Japanese,
or know Japanese people looking for what you offer!)
I’m not at University, and there are NO Japanese people around me! :(
Some may find themselves in a town where there are no Japanese
people, and no opportunity to approach them. Others may be the only
person in the area who studies Japanese. I’ve sometimes
found myself in this position, and it’s difficult to imagine yourself
finding a language partner. But don’t fear! There are still some great
ways to find them and not all hope is lost. Here’s how:
- Use online websites to find language partners: There are so many websites online that offer finding language partners. You can use language-learning sites like RhinoSpike and Lang8 to find and develop friendships, whilst helping each other learn. Or you can go on language-exchange specific websites like MyLanguageExchange, The Mixxer, and my most recommended site, Japan-guide.com Friends. On these sites you can find email-pals, pen-pals, and Skype pals who are looking for the exact thing you are.
Japan-Guide is a great website in general for the information it provides on travelling around Japan. However, it also has a brilliant language pal website found here.
You can post an ad looking for friends to talk to about your interests. I have had great success with this website, although you do need to be cautious of a few lurking creepers - don’t give out personal information.
HelloTalk is an amazing free app that I have on my iPhone. It helps you to easily connect with people of all nationalities who are learning languages. The Japanese user base is large and it wont be long before you start recieving messages! You can make voice calls which is great for verbal interaction.
One of the best parts is the fact you can correct the messages that people send you and vice-versa.
Again, do not give out personal information on here and I
wouldn’t reccommend meeting language pals you met online, offline! You
can converse in the comfort and safety of your home thanks to this app.