Photo by Digital Internet under a Creative Commons license.
When living abroad, it can be difficult for foreigners to learn the local language. It helps to speak with locals, but it's hard to meet locals if you don't know the local language. All too often foreigners return to their own countries earlier than planned because they aren’t able to establish a local network.
Behind this vexing chicken and egg problem is the fact that many people want to practice their foreign language skills while traveling or when meeting people from other countries when at home. It’s clear that sharing languages can help both travellers and locals alike.
Enter Meet2Talk.com, a website that enables you to share your language. The platform helps you find other members near you who would like to share languages. Once you get connected, you decide where and when to meet. The idea is to continue meeting, alternating between the two languages with each meetup. This way you can learn their language and they can learn yours.
Meet2talk.com is a part of my Master's thesis in Cross-Media Communication at the University of Copenhagen. I was inspired to create the site after considering the difficulties many international students encounter when learning Danish in Denmark and the necessity for Danes to learn new languages.
Within the first month of the site going live, people shared Danish, English, Italian, and Chinese. The website is rapidly expanding and now has members from 30 countries offering and requesting over 50 different languages.
Charles, an avid language sharer says, “I’ve had two Meet2Talk meetings, and they were both fantastic. I would recommend this system to anyone wanting to learn a new language.”
As Charles suggests, it is possible to share languages. Here are a few tips for success:
1) Be safe
Be sure to plan your meetings in safe environments. I strongly recommend scheduling your first sessions at your place of employment, a public café, or a library.
2) Practice your language at the first meeting, then swap
My recommendation is for you to speak your language at the first meeting and the other member’s language at the second meeting and so on. By alternating, you can concentrate on one language at a time.
You can speak both languages at the same time, but in my experience, this often results in one language being spoken more than the other.
3) Discuss logistics at your first meeting
At your first meeting, I suggest you cover logistics, including how often you plan to meet, when and where is most convenient, and how long you’ll meet.
4) Use the Inspiration page at Meet2Talk.com to get the conversation started
Many people have no problem finding subjects to talk about, but if you would like some inspiration for your meetings, you can visit the Inspiration page at Meet2Talk.com. There you’ll find a wide range of topics to discuss. But remember, you can talk about whatever you want from culture to sports, business to language subjects and everything in between.
5) Remember to listen, and be courteous
Listening is very important. Remember to give the other member an equal amount of time to talk. At the end of your meetings, be sure to ask each other if you had an equal chance to speak.