Finding a Language Exchange Partner on the Web by Marianne Raynaud

Marianne Raynaud from QualityTime-ESL speaks in this section about subjects other than teaching. In this case it is about how she found by using SharedTalk.com three language exchange partners in three different countries, who helped her to improve her Spanish.

Recently I decided to find a Spanish-speaking partner on the Internet, someone who wanted to improve his or her level in English. I signed up on numerous Websites, but I was successful only at SharedTalk.com. From the other sites I received no answers.

With SharedTalk.com it was easy to sign up and write a profile specifying my needs. I said that I spoke English fluently, had been a university professor in English for 24 years, lived in the French Alps and I gave my age, 61. SharedTalk.com is a website where people do not lie about their age, and their real goal is to improve their language skills and not just find an available sex partner. I was relieved to find that porn was censored and that anyone indulging in such practices would automatically be deleted. Once I had written the profile I went into search to find a native speaker in the country or countries of my choice and in the age group I wished.

SharedTalk.com is completely free and carries no advertising, which is refreshing in a world where everything or every service seems to have a monetary value. In fact SharedTalk.com was conceived and is run by a young Belgian who has invested all his personal savings in this project.

Through my searches on SharedTalk.com I have already found several correspondents. One woman “Linda” (not her real name) is a young woman (45), who was born in Columbia and now lives in Spain. The amazing thing that we soon discovered was that she had lived 22 years in Sweden and spoke perfect Swedish! Since I was born in Sweden and speak Swedish myself (though I was educated in the US), this was a perfect match. Whenever we need to use a word in Spanish or English that we don’t know, we have Swedish as the common means of communication to fall back on.

I have improved my Spanish greatly since I first started corresponding with “Linda”. We have sent each other photos, so I know that she is a beautiful woman. She has introduced me to English friends she met recently, who are touring the world on a fantastic sailing boat and who have a website to record their adventures at sea and write about the people they become acquainted with. This is the real strength of the Internet: giving us the means for extensive communication between not only companies and clients but above all among individuals looking to expand their horizons.

I have never met “Linda” in person, but I feel I know her quite well already. Furthermore, she recently traveled to Stockholm to see her daughter. I had mentioned this to my mother, who was quite intrigued by the story of my on-line acquaintance with a Swedish speaking South American. Suddenly my mother, who is 89, said she wanted to meet Linda. “But I have never met her in person!” I said on the phone to my mother, who replied that did not matter at all. So when Linda came to Stockholm she called my mother and with her 20-year daughter she paid her a visit. My mother was delighted to spend the afternoon with two such lovely people, whom I hope to meet in the future.

Another of my exchange partners is “Pablo”. He is a university professor specialized in economics. He recently attended an intensive English course and now wishes to communicate in “real life” with “real people” so to speak. He also knows that professors at Spanish universities will soon have to be able to give their lectures in English because of the great number of foreigners these universities hope to attract.

“Pablo” will soon be setting off for Chili to set up a department of economics at one of the universities In Santiago. We will be able to keep in touch thanks to the Internet and thanks to SharedTalk.com.

My third language partner is "Juan". He is a retired banker, originally from Barcelona who now lives in Paris.He is extremely well read and very good at correcting my mistakes in Spanish. Since he has a subscription with his phone company that enables him to call people all over the world without paying extra, he often gives me a call and I feel I am truly progressing in spoken Spanish. Juan also uses Skype and I intend to do so soon as well.

I encourage all people, young and old alike, who are eager to practice their language skills, to go to SharedTalk.com and find an appropriate language partner. Moreover, I encourage foreign language teachers to inform their students about SharedTalk.com. This website is perfect for all ages and for all people who wish to communicate in a foreign language.

NB. Marianne Raynaud is the founder of the website QualityTime-ESL (www.qualitytime-esl.com), which is intended to help English teachers all over the world become more effective in their classes.

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