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Helping a language partner.

Hi everyone,

I have a language partner who is retired who I learn Mandarin Chinese with as well as other language partners. We are both English speakers  and so it's a bit like the blind leading the blind at times when learning Chinese together even though my Chinese is more advanced than his. 

I was wondering if other language learners had any advice on how to help a language partner who is not as advanced as yourself without giving the impression of being bossy or acting too much like a language teacher. I'm not able to be his teacher as I don't know enough Chinese yet to be fluent and he already has a Chinese teacher anyway.

I just want to help him learn in any way I can but I don't want to give him too many corrections as I'm not always sure of the answer myself and it's not my place to keep correcting all the time. I will keep on practising Chinese with him as we are both learning but any further insights might prove useful so I can improve myself as a language partner.

Thanks for your time.

Sep 28, 2016 2:49 PM
Comments · 5

I think if you have enough time, it's good to practice with him even though his English is not as good as yours. As you said, sometimes you also came across the questions that you didn't know the answers. You could also learn sth new from the talking.  

Your partner has a Chinese teacher. Maybe he could tell you what he leaned in last lesson before you two talk, and then you could help him practice and review the lesson during the talk. Review and practice matters. 

Actually I won't think one is bossy when he/she helps me with my learning, or gives me corrections, even if his/her language is in higher level than me. On the contrary, I will be very grateful that he/she spends  time to help me. So don't think too much. 

When you are not sure of the answer to a question, just let him know. After talking, he could ask his teacher, and you could turn to your friends. You could discuss during your next talking. Also if you are sure that obviously he make a  mistake, you could correct him. 

September 29, 2016

Hi Tamara, I would like to be your language partner if you don't mind. I want to improve my English and I had some language partners before and helped them in their Chinese learning. 

P.S. I am a big fan of Harry Potter if you interested.


October 4, 2016

If this retired senior one intend to keep learn English all the time, 

you just keep point out all the errors which he made to him.

how he keep learning is the matter by himself.

it's just a mutual communication.  No way to force him to improve. 

September 29, 2016

Hi William,

Thanks for the advice. I already have many Chinese language partners that I speak to regularly, some I got to know from Italki. I think as well that it's better to maybe concentrate on pinyin and grammar with my English speaking language partner. I'll concentrate on Chinese conversation with my Chinese language partners.

September 28, 2016

Dear Tamara

William from China.

As you mentioned,   you are not always sure of answer yourself.

Too much corrections means you both at a lower level,

In this case, I do not think it is a good way to talk with each other to practise.

You should keep learning systematically about the Pinyin and grammars.

So many native speakers on Italki.

Why not choose one or two?

September 28, 2016
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin)