italki's Native English Teachers, Tutors and Members receive many requests to help others learn or improve their English skills.
Things you should know
- Teachers/Tutors are paid for their help; they are busy, so they may not be able to help you.
- Other members who are not teachers or tutors receive too many requests for help.
- Members who ask for help must describe the kind of help they need. A simple "Hello" is not enough.
- Helping someone improve their language skills takes a lot of time, and it is hard work.
Things you can do before looking for a language partner (especially new members)
- Write a Question or read the Answers to questions that you may also have.
- Read the comments in Discussions, especially those written by a native speaker.
- Write a comment in a Discussion, and ask for someone to correct your writing.
- Write a Notebook, but do not make it too long (fewer than 15 sentences).
- Don't be upset if you do not receive a reply. Answering all the requests is time-consuming.
- Be patient and respectful to other italki members.
I hope you found this advice helpful.
Richard, I just want to say that sometimes it gets to a point where I spend hours just to respond to others' messages and requests! Because if I don't, I would feel so guilty; as if I didn't respect their humanity or their feelings!
So I wrote a reply to every message I received, except the ones that said "Hi, how are you/ hello/ hey", because they are so silly.
Now I'm not to be found in a search, and no one can send me a message or send me a friendship request, because I needed some time for myself! God forbid that others read profiles before they sent their messages, they don't want to waste their time, but it's ok for them to waste other's time!
I just want to remind others that teachers, tutors and the active members on italki who offer their generous help for free, have a life, so post your questions and entries on the site, and anyone who has free time would try to help, and not necessarily that certain member that you wish to get an answer from, because he/ she might not have time for this, especially through private messages.
A great discussion as always Richard.
As a native English speaker learning Spanish I receive more than enough friend requests and messages asking to be language partners from native Spanish speakers. So what do you do if you have to send a message to someone who is not learning your native language?
Make it interesting. I wouldn't expect you to write perfect English but please try and explain to me what you would bring to the conversation that would keep me interested for 30 - 60 minutes. Make it clear to the person you are writing to that all you are asking for is a 'one off' 30 - 60 minute session, not a lifetime commitment.
Here's an example I've written, try to write something similar yourself but if you need to copy it then do so.
Hi Andy, I'm Bjorn from Nykoping in Sweden. I know that you are not learning Swedish but please take a minute or two to read this message. I have not been able to find a native English speaker who is learning Swedish to do an exchange with so I am writing to you in the hope that you will be interested in my proposal. If you could spare 30 - 60 minutes on a 'one off' basis so that I could practice my spoken English, I will come prepared with some interesting topics about myself/my family life/my city/my country. I'm sure that you will find the conversation interesting and I will appreciate any help you can give me with my spoken English. I'm happy to chat on Skype with/without camera, whichever you prefer, if there is anything you wish to know about my country please include details in your reply and I will try my best to answer any questions you may have. I've actually copied and pasted most of this message, my English level is low intermediate. I hope to hear from you, here are a couple of links to some information about my city.
A couple of extra things: To increase your chances of getting a partner don't just send the automatic message. Introduce yourself, and tell them how you think you can help them and what you need help with.
Also don't lie. Don't claim to have knowledge that you don't have, and you will be more likely to keep your exchange partners longer.
I don't recommend practicing with people who are not fluent, as you will just learn their mistakes. Choose fluent partners who are willing to correct you.
One thing to keep in mind also when looking for language partners is that volunteering takes a lot of time and it is not always feasible for most people due to lack of time. So that is what language exchange is all about, you teach them your language, and they teach you theirs - you both help one another, you both learn, you both benefit.
So when looking for a partner be ready not only to get help, but also to help them. Look for language partners that are studying your language, and be ready to help them.
I get all kinds of requests from people who want to study with me while they know that I am not studying their language, so obviously they want me to spend my evening helping them, but they have no intention of helping me... it's sort of sad.
You can find language partners that are learning your language by looking at the top of the page, under 'Community', choose 'Language Partners', select your language and the language that you want to learn, and send invitations to people who are learning your language.