The Beauty of Exchange →☆★←


I have read in many sites that having a language exchange partner can really help with learning your target language and you can also develop a great friendship.  As you can see my target language is Japanese.  There are many websites that bring people together either face to face or virtually.  I wanted to meet people in person.  I already belong to a group from meetup.com (which is a great place to meet people with the same interests as you) but I wanted a personal exchange partner who I can meet with personally and not in a group.  I told about a site called conversationexchange.com and made a profile and messaged people who seemed interesting.  There are no pictures on these profiles but since the person who told me about this site has had success I believed the site worked.  I’m usually hesitant with sites like these where there are no pictures in the profile but sometimes that’s better because you get a chance to email and judge them by how they communicate and not how they look.  This isn’t match.com lol!

My profile seemed to have been a little popular because I was getting a lot of emails.  I wrote a lot saying that I’m a beginner and I love to laugh and that I’m easy going.  I didn’t want to just put “I’m looking for an exchange partner”.  I wanted to make sure I match with the right kind of person.  My aim was to get a female native speaker but all I was getting were males.  I have no problem with males but since Japanese has “female” speech and “male” speech I wanted to make sure I can ask a female if this word is okay to say for me.  I ended up meeting a really nice person.  On this site I will call her Ami-chan. I also have another exchange partner who is a male (I ended up getting a male for variety) and I will probably write another post about him but this one is about my dear Ami-chan.

It has been about 3 weeks since first meeting her and already I feel like my Japanese has improved.  The first time I met her I barely said any Japanese.  She knew more English than what I knew in Japanese.  She told me she tried to have an exchange partner before but only had one meeting and it was all in English.  For me it was my first time.  The first meeting I just asked her how to introduce myself even though I already knew はじめまして and よろしくおねがいします。 I mean, I already had a great deal of exposure of Japanese but to actually sit down and have someone explain to me certain things I can’t ask a drama is great.  Other than my poor attempt to speak Japanese, our English conversation was great.  She is a very adventurous person and has traveled to a lot of places in the world.  I desire to do the same.

I am really happy she chose me to be her exchange partner and I hope my Japanese improves even faster so we can actually have a full conversations in Japanese instead of me trying to  make random sentences.  Although I’m making random sentences it is helping  A LOT! Because of her I have a better understanding of when to use よ or ね at the end of certain sentences. Also I finally realized how to say the 「ふ」 sound! よかった! Without real conversation I would not have realized that.  Textbooks are great for introducing such things but to actually do it and know why is amazing.  I’m also happy that she is learning new phrases from me that I take for granted like, “What have you been up to?“.  When I asked her that she was unsure of  my question but it really is just another way of asking “how are you?” or “what’s up?” or “what is new with you?” My favorite part is helping her with pronunciations.  I don’t know why I like to help Japanese with that but I do.  It always funny when there is a word even I have to question.  For example: how would you say prefer? do you say PURR-FUR or PREE-FUR? It could just be an accent thing but I say both (when I feel like it) and I don’t know why.  Same word but slightly different pronunciations.  English is funny like that.

So as you can see exchange partners are great.  She told me she doesn’t really talk English that often when she doesn’t meet with me so I invited her to the group I go to from meetup.com.  The group is a Japanese language group where learners and natives can meet and socialize or help with grammar and so on.  It is a really nice group and I’ve been going for the past 4 months.  Now she has more chances to talk to people in English and help them with Japanese but she is still MINE lol (I’m a little selfish aka the American way jk).  Last Tuesday after roaming Kinukoniya she offered to give me origami paper that she had laying around at home and a 0.3 pen for my new tiny Japanese planner.  To my surprise I got more than that.  A whole UNIQLO bag full! lol  And it was not just origami paper and the pens she offered it was more than that.  She gave me cute notebooks, pencils, plush toys, hair pins, fans, bookmarks, address books, photo album and decorated boxes.

I heard from my friend who lived in Japan for about a year say, once you get a gift the gift exchange never stops.  Lol I don’t see anything wrong with giving small gifts to friends.  As Americans we should value small gifts from the heart than expensive useless (after 1 year) gifts.  I want to give her a gift too but I’m going to have to think a little hard for that.  Maybe something from my dad’s home country (Grenada, West Indies).  He’s there now so hmm we’ll see if he can come back with stuff for me.

I really do appreciate the beauty of language exchange.  Not only is it beneficial for yourself it’s beneficial for the other party.  With that in mind even if you live in a smaller town than NYC it is possible to still do language exchange.  If physically meeting is not available there is still SKYPE and other sites where you can talk through web cams.  Also a penpal (emailing) is great.  I don’t have a list of sites to go to but just go on GOOGLE (the WEBSEARCH GOD lol) or BING or YAHOO.  Either one of those work.  Just try it.  I know it can be nerve racking when you first do it (I was really nervous my first time) but once you get past that stage you will love it.  Unless you have a bad experience. If that happens just brush it off and try again.  Trust me (if you want).  I’ve heard other stories of people who have language exchange partners who turn into really good friends.  It’s worth it.  Plus now I know people who can either show me around Japan if they are there when I visit or can tell me where to go.  I can avoid tourist spots.

So that’s it.  My very first language exchange partner, Ami-chan.  If you think you are ready for one go on and try it.  If not there are other alternatives.  Try TWITTER too!  じゃ、ね!

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Comments
2 Responses to “The Beauty of Exchange →☆★←”
  1. Deja says:

    ワウー すごいよね〜!本当に好きだよ〜!面白かった!Ami-San は優しそうね。きっとアヤナの日本語は上手になってね。頑張って!

  2. Mary says:

    Great post. I too have been meeting with a language partner.. He is Japanese of course.. Ryuta.
    I’ve never used that site, but I was introduced to him through my other friend Ty who is also studying Japanese. We meet once a week for a little over an hour.. half English and then half Japanese. He is such a great guy and we have become friend ofter going out with other Japanese friends to hang…. and of course speak Japanese.

    I felt like you when you said she knew more english than you knew Japanese. For me I am better at writing than speaking, so I found it kinda hard trying to form sentences out of nowhere for our meetings. Now i try to have topics and write them down so i can share them with my partner.. being a little prepaired helps in the beginning, although it seems you are well on your way.

    I’m glad you are happy with your partner, and the more you meet for sure you will learn a load.. It’s so much rewarding being able to speak Japanese and not feel weird about it. I couldn’t imagine trying to meet someone in Ohio.. when I was living at home it was so and because there were no Japanese. When I was in college it was easy. and them since moving to NYC it’s been such a blast!

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