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Language exchange is a method of language learning based on mutual language practicing by learning partners who are speakers of different languages. Language exchange is sometimes called Tandem language learning.
In modern contexts, "language exchange" most often refers to the mutual teaching of partners' first languages. Language exchanges are generally considered helpful for developing language proficiency, especially in speaking fluency and listening comprehension. Language exchanges that take place through writing or text chats also improve reading comprehension and writing ability. Given that language exchanges generally take place between native speakers of different languages, there is also the side benefit of improving cross-cultural communication.
This practice has long been used by individuals to exchange knowledge of foreign languages. For example, John Milton gave Roger Williams an opportunity to practice Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French, while receiving lessons in Dutch in exchange.
Language exchange in education
Universities are increasingly experimenting with language exchanges as part of the language learning curriculum. In this respect, language exchanges have a similar role as study abroad programs and language immersion programs in creating an environment where the language student must use the foreign language for genuine communication outside of a classroom setting.
Language exchanges have been viewed as a helpful tool to aid language learning at language schools. Language exchanges tend to benefit oral proficiency, fluency, colloquial vocabulary acquisition, and vernacular usage. However, there are also concerns that language exchanges cannot be used as a substitute for formal language education, given the difficulty of using language exchanges in learning formal grammar and writing skills.
With the growth of the internet, language exchanges using social networks and voice-over-IP technologies have become increasingly popular. Language learning social networks now offer students the ability to find language partners around the world, and speak or text chat through instant messengers. This has allowed students who previously could not find foreign language partners to search online for native speakers of that language. Some examples include Speaky, The Mixxer and Conversation Exchange.
- Language education
- Community language learning
- Language immersion
- Language acquisition
- Communicative language teaching
- Online learning community