8 Ways to Make Language-learning Friends and Learn Together
Being around friends is the best.
Not just for hangout purposes—friends can help you learn a language!
Whether any of your current friends are already interested in learning a language, or you want to find new language friends online through conversation exchange, having support (and having fun together!) while learning isn’t only helpful, it’s important.
In this post, we’ll talk about how you can benefit from making and having friends who are learning the same language as you or befriending and interacting with native speakers.
- Why Learn a Language with Friends?
- How to Learn a Language with Friends
Why Learn a Language with Friends?
First of all, learning a language with friends adds motivation. When you’re learning a language, it can be easy to quit as soon as things get difficult. However, if you’re learning with friends, there’s someone else there to hold you accountable. Whether it’s in real life or online, and whether your friends are native speakers you’re doing a language exchange with or fellow learners of your target language, you don’t want to tell them that you’ll no longer be joining them on the journey to fluency. It’s much harder to quit if doing so will let your friends down!
Plus, you’ll have someone to discuss tricky language rules with. Regardless of what language you’re learning, chances are you’ll encounter some rules that are difficult to grasp. When you’re learning with a friend, you can talk through these problems. If you’re learning with friends who are learning the same language, you two can discuss how you interpret the rule. If you’re learning online with a native conversation partner, they’ll likely be able to provide additional clarity on the rule.
Finally, learning a language with friends gives you someone to practice with. Online language exchange provides you with practice in your target language in exchange for giving your partner practice in your native language. In person, on the phone or online, with any type of language friend, you can simply interact in your target language (or switch between languages). Whatever the case may be, having language friends is a helpful way to get valuable practice.
How to Learn a Language with Friends
1. Find new language friends online.
First things first, if you don’t already have real-life friends who are learning the same target language as you (or immediate access to native speakers of your target language in real life), the internet has your back.
There are plenty of language exchange sites where you can partner with a native speaker as you both try to learn the other’s language. Sites like Languing, LanguageFriends.net and Conversation Exchange will help you find friends who speak the language you’re looking to learn.
These language learning communities can help you find other people who are learning your target language.
Find people who share your interests and start getting all the benefits of learning a language with friends!
2. Use social media.
Social media is an invaluable tool for language learners. When you’re looking to learn a language with friends, it’s nearly perfect.
That’s because you can exercise all the main skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
For a more immersive experience, you can change your language settings. Language settings are remarkably easy to change. On Twitter, just click your profile icon, then “Settings and privacy.” From there, you can change your language. On Facebook, it’s even easier: language settings are at the bottom right-hand corner of any page.
Both sites are also handy because you can use them to find and connect with other groups of language learners, and it’s always possible that you’ll even make more friends with native speakers just by hanging around in the right places!
If your real-life friends agree to it, you can team up to post updates, message each other or even exchange video messages in your target language.
You can also connect with a language exchange partner on social media for easy access to all their posts. This is one way you might end up making a wider network of friends who speak your target language—by connecting with your language exchange partner’s friends through social media.
If you don’t want to annoy your current friends/followers by occasionally switching to a language they don’t speak, you can still use social media to connect with your language friends. Simply start new social media accounts that you dedicate solely to your target language. This way, you can post freely in your target language without anyone unfollowing you for it.
3. Play games.
Playing games is a great way to improve your language skills while having fun.
You can play language games with your friends in real life, or find online games to play with your language exchange partner. Many online gaming websites offer chat rooms where you can engage in written conversation while playing. Even if you’re not a gamer who’s into learning with all the latest video games, you can still take advantage of this technique playing simple, well-known games online. For instance, PlayDrift offers multiplayer dominoes and backgammon with chat rooms.
When you’re playing games, conversation tends to flow pretty freely, so you might find yourself discussing topics you’d never have thought of if your sole focus had been on language practice.
4. Use your target language to talk with each other.
It may seem obvious, but engaging in general conversation in your target language is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your skills.
In person, this can be particularly fun. You can use your target language to communicate with your friends when you don’t want other people to know what you’re saying. Be careful, though, because you never know who else speaks your target language.
With friends online, this could mean instant messaging each other, connecting with video chat or interacting through voice messaging.
Texting is another underused way of interacting in a foreign language. Once you’ve installed the right keyboard, it should be much easier.
For iPhones, you can install quite a few different keyboards, including most major languages. To do so, go to “Settings,” then “General,” then “Keyboard,” then “Add New Keyboard.” From there, you’ll see an alphabetical list with a wide variety of different keyboards. Select the one you want. Once you’re in messaging, you can simply tap the globe symbol to the left of the space bar to switch keyboards.
For Android phones, you can install specific keyboards and enable them by going to “Language and input” under “Settings.”
Either way, talking in your target language will provide valuable speaking and listening (and maybe even writing and reading) practice.
5. Watch movies/TV in your target language together.
Whether you’re watching in-person with friends or long distance with online friends, watching movies or TV together has a lot to offer.
Learning languages through movies and TV is useful in and of itself. After all, it gives you valuable practice understanding authentic media.
However, if you watch with friends, there are even greater benefits. You get all the benefits of watching authentic media, but you also have a helpful topic for conversation practice. Who are your favorite characters? What lines were the best? How did you feel about the movie?
Watching with subtitles could also help you and your friends have a more fruitful experience. Many streaming platforms include subtitles, but bilingual subtitles would be ideal so that you can maximize both your understanding and learning.
Remember also that context is vital for understanding native media, although it may not always come across just from subtitle text. Therefore, before you tackle longer-length films and episodes, it may be worthwhile to practice first with a resource that can provide shorter but still comprehensive vocabulary lessons.
The language learning program FluentU is one such resource that also utilizes bilingual subtitles. It teaches with bite-sized authentic videos, and each clip comes with dual-language interactive subtitles that comprehensively explain vocabulary in context, including slang and colloquialisms. What you learn from the program, whether vocabulary or study habits, can then be applied for your communal movie or TV watch session.
If your friend happens to be a native speaker, they can also clarify any subtleties you may have missed or help you understand the cultural nuances.
And with Netflix out there, there’s never a shortage of viewing options. Netflix offers a wide variety of foreign language TV and movies that you can find simply by browsing titles.
6. Start a book club in your target language.
If there’s one thing Oprah has taught us, it’s the value of book clubs.
Book clubs are a great way to get more out of your reading experience by having someone to discuss each book with.
However, for language learners, they offer so much more than that. Reading a book provides you with valuable reading practice. Discussing that book piles on conversation practice, too.
You can start a book club with your real-life or online friends. Simply agree on a book you want to read and plan a date to discuss it. If you don’t have a group formed yet, you can also try online book club platforms like Goodreads Bookclub Groups.
If your partner is a native speaker of your target language and wants to learn your language, they might even try reading the book in your native language, while you read it in your target language. Then, you can discuss the book in both languages to ensure you both benefit from the experience.
7. Create challenges against each other.
Nothing will fuel your fire quite like a little competition.
Setting challenges works great with in-person or online friends. Just agree on a goal and see who can complete it first.
For instance, you might challenge each other to learn 100 new vocabulary words. Or you might see who can write a short story in their target language the fastest.
Whatever your goal, it will push you and your friend forward towards fluency (and make you desperately want to win).
8. Use Skype to connect.
Skype is a fabulous thing. You can place online voice or video calls for free. This is a great way to connect with real-life friends when you can’t get together or to connect with online language friends.
Video calls are particularly helpful for language learners. After all, you can use video calls to detect nuance in language, see what shape someone’s mouth must make to produce certain unfamiliar sounds, or even watch your partner’s facial expression to get a clearer idea of the emotion behind a phrase. Plus, sometimes wildly gesticulating is the best way to get a point across regardless of language.
Learning a language with friends is some of the most fun you’ll ever have on the road to fluency.
So set your squad goals high!