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English Language Exchange for students

Staying with a host family during your studies in the UK is a great way to immerse yourself in British family life. You will be absorbing a great deal of English while you go about your daily routine. But of course, everyone is different, and the linguistic anomalies, pronunciation, accents and idiosyncrasies you pick up will vary. One way you can widen your horizons with your English is to meet with someone in a ‘language exchange’, sometimes referred to as a ‘tandem’.

What is a Language Exchange?

Language exchanges are where two people meet to mutually educate each other in one another’s native language through speaking practice. Most commonly, people meet face-to-face in a casual venue such as a coffee shop or library to chat and improve their listening comprehension. In between those meetings, you might have conversations  over text or email to aid writing too.

Language exchanges can also happen on Skype and similar software/apps. So if you’re unable to get out to meet someone, there are still ways to brush up on your skills.

Usually, informal language exchanges are used to complement a formal English language education rather than to replace it. Think of it is as an add-on. This ensures that even when slang and super casual language are picked up, the speaker still has a knowledge of the academically-correct vocabulary, spelling and grammar.

How to Find a Language Exchange

Finding a language exchange is easily done online, but we recommend looking for something local. Traveling a short distance will help you commit to the meetings and traveling won’t take much out of your day. Ask your host family of any local interest groups on sites such as Facebook, or speak with the HFS London team for advice. Remember to always meet in a public place and ensure your host family know where you are.  There are a variety of options available with a quick google search such as this one. It is worth doing a bit of research into finding the ideal one for you.

Text and email language exchanges can also be found if you prefer doing it from home.  Be careful with giving out your personal phone number and address. If you’re not comfortable meeting later on for face-to-face language exchanges, don’t.

The Benefits of a Language Exchange

Of course, language exchanges are mutual and so you must be prepared to speak in your native tongue too. Don’t look at this as time-wasting, though – it’s a great way to contribute directly to the community you’re living within. The people you are meeting with are likely in a very similar position to you. They will appreciate your help and it will give you a break from English!

Whilst of course you’ll learn lots from the host family you stay with, it’s not always practical to ask them lots of questions. Our host families are keen to help, but not all of them will discuss the finer points of linguistics. A language exchange has time set aside specifically for this. You can ask everything you need to and make sure you’re as clear as possible on everything you need to be.

Learning and improving your English through a language exchange in an informal environment takes away any pressure to get everything right. It can make studying much more fun and doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in a classroom. It also encourages the nurture of colloquialisms and slang terms that wouldn’t be learnt through more formal language study methods.

As you’re already studying, there’s no doubt your schedule is busy. However, taking part in a language exchange can really help boost your motivation levels. You’re responsible for teaching someone else and improving your own skills in doing so. So be sure to note down the exchange on your CV or resume, as there’s lots of transferable skills, as well as your language ones, that will impress schools and employers!

Try a homestay 

There really is no better place to learn and improve your English skills than in the capital of England itself. HFS London has hundreds of native-English speaking host families on their books offering homestays to international students from anywhere in the world. Your adventure can begin in an environment that encourages and nurtures learning from all angles – book a homestay with us today!

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