Depending on your goals and the time you have available there may be several ways to have a productive language exchange. Since I’m currently meeting my LP several times a week I thought I’d share with you guys how we go about our meetings. First of all, we have decided to designate one day a week for discussion on one or two predefined topics, and another day for correcting each other’s essays (again on a mutually agreed upon topic).

Aside from these two fixed sessions we often get together for an informal chat, where the only rule is that I may only speak Korean (although allowed to look up words on Naver) and my LP may only speak English. Not even when explaining grammar or vocabulary to each other are we allowed to switch languages. While this can be super hard at times it is a tremendously effective way for really immersing yourself in a language. It also makes for a lot of interesting situations, so we usually laugh a lot during these meetings. We always correct each others pronunciation, sentence structure, and choice of vocab until it sounds natural. A very fun game we came up with is an advanced form of the “shadow game”. For example he will explain something to me in English, and in order to check that I have understood the meaning of what he just said he will make me repeat  his point in Korean. This strategy works best when you’re at approximately the same level of each other’s languages but it may still work even with larger gaps in proficiency levels. We can easily do this for hours on end without ever tiring of it and even after just a few weeks of these intense sessions I start to feel a significant progress in my Korean speaking skills.

I guess I finally found the “language parent” that Chris Lonsdale mentions in his thought-provoking TED talk. I wrote a blog post about this talk earlier this year but this video simply cannot be shared too often.

Here are some of the topics that we have been through or plan to go through:

  • Cultural shocks experienced in and outside of Korea
  • Lifechanging experiences
  • Most predominant childhood memory
  • How we see ourselves in ten years
  • Books or movies that have left a lasting impression

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