In a previous post, we mentioned that writing can be an excellent way to practice your language output, because it allows you to produce material at a slower pace. We also talked about the things you can write about for language learning, but we didn’t mention perhaps the most effective and entertaining way to practice your writing skills; writing to real people. Writing online messages is rewarding, and it’s also one of the most useful writing methods. It is when learning a language truly starts to pay off. Chatting online can serve as a nice transition from barely being able to use the language on your own, to having an actual live conversation. In this lesson, we’ll take a look at how you can use online chat to practice your writing skills in language learning.
There are lots of online resources to help you find someone to exchange messages with. One of the best ways to find native speakers is through language exchange websites. You’ll get to chat with interesting people from all over the world! There are several language exchange websites out there. You can easily find the one you like the most with a quick Google search. Using a free language exchange website to connect with people is an amazing way to practice your output language skills. Language exchange involves teaching someone a language you know, while they teach you their own native tongue.
If you speak English fluently, you are in luck; English is in high demand. It will be a piece of cake to find people to help you. Simply sign up, find a native speaker in your target language trying to learn English, and chat away! Writing isn’t nearly as intimidating as having a live conversation. Sure, you’ll eventually need to set up your microphone and have a spoken conversation if you really want to practice your speaking skills, but practising with written messages first can be a great way to ease into live conversations.
Just make sure you only write in your new language. It can be tempting sometimes to switch to English when you want to say something you don’t know, but remember to always stick to the plan! Always write in your target language, even if you have no idea how to express yourself. Try to find a way! If your grammar is all over the place and your sentences are not complete, don’t worry about it! It will come eventually. Your language partner can correct your sentences and you can learn from your mistakes. Learning from this kind of situation is very powerful, because it becomes meaningful, which strongly helps with memory.
Keep in mind though, that most people you’ll write to are not professional teachers and may not correct you if they understood what you wrote. It can be a good idea to ask them to let you know when you make mistakes. Just remember to ask them to correct major problems at first, and not to be too nitpicky about spelling when you are starting out. Otherwise, the experience can quickly spiral from satisfying to downright depressing. Try to keep a nice balance between correcting your mistakes and having an enjoyable conversation flow.
Just remember that you may have to be patient to find the right language partner. Sure, it’s very easy to find someone on language exchange websites. But finding someone you truly connect with, someone with whom you can have engaging conversations beyond basic greetings and the weather, now that can take a few tries. When you do find someone interesting, make sure to add them as a friend to talk to them again in the future. Even better, add them on Facebook, WhatsApp, or any other social media you both use. A lot of people log in to this thing called Facebook every day. You can chat on Facebook messenger, exchange a few messages every day and even look at their pictures, which can give you a glimpse of their culture and interesting topics of conversation.
After you acquire a few foreign Facebook friends, you can send each other messages whenever you have a few minutes. The responses don’t have to be immediate to be fun and effective. You can make great friends this way. A few messages every day will improve your writing skills like crazy and it won’t feel like a chore. Plus, when you both feel more confident in your respective languages, you can even set a time to have a video conversation. That will bring you to a whole different level! Have fun with your new friends!
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