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At what point in your progress should you look for a partner to practice speaking with on skype?
For example, I am trying to learn French and I really need to work on speaking and listening, but I'm afraid that my vocabulary is too small to have entire conversations in French. I'd be fine with practising French/English with someone, but I'm worried I won't be able to speak with others yet. I am practising with tutors/teachers right on skype currently, and they usually have to explain a lot of things to me in English since it's still hard for me to understand spoken French. So at what point would you do a language exchange with a partner?
I just learned the alphabet in Arabic and I already have several Arabic language partners. I feel it is never to early. The people here are very nice and they will help you not only with the French you know, but they will also help you learn more French. And it's good that you have professionals to help you if there is something that your language partner can't explain.
Well, if you learn basic grammar, and learn the most frequently used words, maybe around 1000 words you should be able to have some basic conversation if slowly. Also, what can help is buy a "Travel phrases" book, like Berlitz or Lonely Planet. Then you can at least speak phrases from the book, which is arguably better than just vocab.
That's the same thing it happens to me and the most people (sorry for possible mistakes. I'm practicing my english).
In my country (Chile) a few people speak other language (include english), because of that it's too difficult to improve, even more speaking and listening skills.
When you can write and read the most important ideas, enough to not need to search many words in the dictionary, then you should start to have speaking conversations, with native speakers as much as possible.
I hope you are successful :)
To be honest, as soon as possible now days. I have had my feet in the pool for about a year now and the more i read, I have heard many people say that I should have been trying to speak and practice from day one. Sure we ALL will make mistakes, be shy and timid but that is part of learning. So the biggest question is if the other person is willing or what are their thoughts. But I think when you are ready, you just are.
I have no problem in English since I am upper intermediate. In French its different, I think I should pass the begginer level befor Istart to find French partners. I study alone though. But its still useful to speak to language partner whatever you are begginer or not.
I think the favorable point to choose a language partner to practice is totally determined by your DEMAND and his SUPPLY . For instance, if you do not have enough vocabulary to make sentences , you need a tutor to help you improve and master you vocabulary . Then after, you need to evaluate which way is more efficient and if your language partners can offer your demand. Once you find you can master your vocabulary on you own , to seek for a tutor can be later and vice versa . Language partner is very critical for your learning , but rather in most situation , you do not have too many choices for your partners . So , my suggestion is just take a look at what your partners can give you , decide you are going to ask your partners to help you . A personal tutor seems no such a problem as you can ask for your teachers anyway .
I definitely think that sooner is better. I know from experience that when you learn a language without speaking it you can get "stuck" on a pronunciation that you think is right but that's kind of weird. If you feel embarrassed or that it's too soon, just try listening to French podcasts or watching movies and tv-shows with english subtitles or French subtitles if you're feeling ambitious. That's what I did and I thinks it helps tremendously.
Above all, even though your vocabulary may be limited you can still speak with people who have a good grasp of English, it would be mutually beneficial.
If you're interested, contact me.