When it comes to speaking proficiently, nothing beats one-on-one conversations in Korean.
You can binge watch Korean YouTube until you’re automatically saying “please subscribe” in Korean, but it’s not the same.
You can listen to K-pop music until you’re dancing uncontrollably, but it’s not a replacement.
You can watch Korean dramas until you can predict the shocking plot twists with 95% accuracy, but your Korean skills still won’t add up.
While there are plenty of great ways to improve your language skills, there’s nothing quite like a Korean language exchange to get you the practice you need to take your Korean to the next level.
However, it’s not always easy to find language exchange partners. Even when you do, navigating the relationship can be tricky. But the benefits of a Korean language exchange can be unmatched, so it’s worth a shot.
Here’s all you need to know to embark on a successful (and sociable) Korean language exchange.
Why Do a Korean Language Exchange?
One reason to do a Korean language exchange is to get valuable speaking practice. Speaking is probably the hardest language skill to improve. Unlike listening, reading and writing practice, speaking practice generally requires a partner, making it trickier. But a Korean language exchange gets you that speaking practice you’ve been needing.
However, a Korean language exchange provides more than just speaking practice. It also gives you a chance to connect with Korean culture. You might not have the opportunity to learn Korean in Korea, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn more about the culture through fun, authentic interactions.
As an added bonus, doing a Korean language exchange can also help you make a good friend. After all, if you talk together often, you’ll probably find countless shared interests and form a strong bond. And it just so happens that friend can help answer your most pressing Korean learning questions, so you don’t have to search hard to find a new explanation for the Korean grammar rules you’re struggling with.
How to Get the Most out of Your Korean Language Exchange
Be clear about your goals and expectations.
Being clear about what you hope to achieve early in the language exchange process will help you find a partner who has the same ideas in mind.
For instance, if you want a long-term partnership with frequent interactions, it’s important to clarify that upfront. This way, you won’t accidentally find someone who wants a one-time exchange, leaving you to find another partner down the road.
Set a regular schedule.
Setting a regular schedule can make Korean language exchange part of your life. Not only does this mean you’ll be getting practice more regularly, it also means you’ll be less likely to forget to practice.
Prepare conversation ideas ahead of time.
No need to waste time with lulls in your conversation! Even if you get along well with your partner, you may reach points where neither of you is sure what to talk about next. Preparing ahead of time can help prevent that.
Plus, if you set your conversation topic head of time, you can study relevant vocabulary to practice with your Korean language exchange partner.
Korean Language Exchange: 6 Handy Resources for Learners to Partner Up
This list will introduce you to some of the best Korean language exchange websites out there.
But when you feel chatted out, it’s important to mix other authentic sources into your study routine. That’s where FluentU comes in.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
It’s an entertaining method to immerse yourself in Korean the way native speakers really use it, while actively building your vocabulary. Each video also comes with flashcards and exercises to help you remember the words even after you’ve finished watching.
You can even use FluentU with your language exchange partner! One account gives you access to all nine of its languages. Watch a K-pop music video and discuss it in Korean, then watch an American TV commercial and talk about it in English.
Through italki, you can find native and non-native Korean speakers for language exchange. And guess what? It’s free! All you have to do is exchange time teaching your native language for time practicing your target language.
With italki, you can filter by gender, country and even city, which is perfect if you want to practice regional variations of Korean. Many users have photos and descriptions in their profiles, giving you the opportunity to find someone you think you’ll really click with.
If you’re not comfortable asking someone to speak with you for free, you can also hire a Korean tutor through italki, which might be a good way to build up your confidence to prepare for real Korean language exchange.
The HelloTalk app has over 10 million members, so it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of Korean language exchange partners to choose from.
Not only can you search for your perfect Korean exchange partner, the app also empowers you with some helpful tools. You can chat through voice, text or video.
But that’s not all! If your Korean skills aren’t quite ready for immersive, authentic conversations, HelloTalk can prop you up with translation, pronunciation and correction tools, making HelloTalk ideal for first-timers who are nervous about Korean language exchange.
While audio and video calls are free, additional features require in-app purchases.
MyLanguageExchange.com has thousands of Korean users searching for language exchange partners, so you’ll have a lot of potential best friends to choose from.
Profiles list each user’s location (including city), languages and a brief profile. Plus, a lot of users upload photos to give you a better idea of who you’ll be chatting with.
A free membership allows you to post a profile and reply to messages from gold members. A paid gold membership allows you to reach out and message other users.
If you prefer your language exchange with a more personal touch, Lexody might be for you.
Lexody can connect you with a native Korean speaker for an in-person language exchange. The exchange process is simple: You speak English for 30 minutes and Korean for 30 minutes.
And because meeting in person has some inherent risks, Lexody has also taken your safety into account, suggesting some safe, public meeting spaces you can use.
While people in small communities are less likely to find conversation partners through Lexody, if you happen to live in or near a big city, Lexody can be a great tool to connect with a native speaker in real life.
Not only can Tandem help connect you with Korean exchange partners, you can also interact via instant message or video chat within the app. If you’re looking for some language exchange that isn’t in real time, you can also leave voice messages and/or photos for your partner.
The Tandem app also offers some special features, such as in-app translations, to help you along. At a loss for topics to discuss? Tandem will even provide you with games to give you something to do should you run out of ideas.
You can find partners and chat for free. However, a pro subscription also gives you additional features, like unlimited translations, no ads and the ability to see who viewed your profile.
If your Korean skills need a little more work before you pair up with a conversation exchange partner, you can also purchase paid tutoring sessions through Tandem.
Sometimes, getting together with several people for a group language exchange might be a little less daunting than interacting with someone one-on-one. That’s where Meetup comes in. With Meetup, you can find existing groups dedicated to practicing languages or discussing Korean-related topics.
Most language exchange groups cover multiple languages, so you might have to attend a meetup to find out whether there are Korean speakers there for you to interact with. However, language exchanges meet all around the world, so if you’re in a big city, it’s very likely that there’s a language exchange group near you.
And if there isn’t a language exchange group near you, fear not! You can also use Meetup to start up your own group.
There truly is nothing like talking with a native to become fluent in the language. So find your Korean language exchange partner for a massive boost to your language skills!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.