As happy as I still am to have found italki, there are several things that would make me love this site even more. Namely
1. A place to post or find requests for language partners. Wouldn't it be simply wonderful not to have to write the same hopeful message over and over again, only to get no reply at all, or to get a reply several weeks later? Wouldn't it be great not to have to scroll through all the requests for language partners being posted daily in the discussion forum out of desperation or laziness? Wouldn't it be brilliant to be able to see at a glance what language somebody is serious about and what exactly they're looking for (skype only, whatsapp only, etc.)?
Because even though I've read over and over again how terribly difficult it is to find a German native speaker (which I am) to practise with, for about two years I tried and failed to find a Spanish speaker to skype with. Now, one of the reasons may be that Spanish people are often admirably spontaneous. Yes, they would like to talk to you (or me), but right now. Not tomorrow or next week. Which leads me to the second thing I'd love to have:
2. A forum for people who suddenly find themselves with time on their hands and would be available for a chat over skype right now. There would be so many advantages to this, I don't even know where to start:
- you'd be able to use a free quarter of an hour productively
- you'd be able to just exchange a few sentences (if that's what you want, either because you're picky about who you talk to, or because your knowledge of your target language doesn't extend much further than a few phrases) without offending anyone.
- you wouldn't have to go through an agonizingly slow hour with someone you have nothing in common with, just because you'd set up this talk ages in advance and you'd been looking forward to it so much.
- you'd be able to listen to as many different accents and ways of speaking as you wanted to - or as you could find.
What do you think? Pros/Cons? Or is it something else entirely that you feel is missing here?
Argh! I meant to post this in the English forum (hoping to reach as many people as possible) - if anyone could tell me how to *move* this discussion, I'd be very grateful!
I tried many times to find a language partner for English, Spanish and German, but I've never been able. The reasons were:
1) different time zone, not been able to find a time that could suit both of us;
2) a different levels (people B2 would probably get bored speaking with an A2);
3) they already had a language partner:
4) I had the opposite problem: people wanted to speak at once, instead I needed a precise and recurring schedule to better organize my time;
5) people are so eager to speak in the language they are learning that they have no desire, sometimes, to use their own, so for instance if I were to write to someone to do a language exchange in spanish, I would like to write only in spanish, not in italian, but the other person would push for using italian. When speaking you can do 50-50, splitting your time evenly, but if you are not eager to teach your language as much as you are eager to learn another one, in my opinion it won't work.
6) moreover: I tried many teachers, not only tutors, and many of them don't really know how to guide a beginner, unless of course you resort to speak only english, which is not my aim: in German I butcher the language and speak like I child but I would never dream using english during a german lesson. This just to say: if are from B2 up, no prob, but when you are not fluent, you have to find someone really emphatic, engaging and understanding who really knows how to spur you into using the language. So, some people are not fit to do this;
7) lastly: the only requests I receive, almost daily, are from people who would like to practice english with me or maybe italian teaching me english (even though they have a bad english) or maybe just to teach me any language which I'm not learning.
So I guess the problems are many, but I agree there should be some way to better connect people looking for a language partner.
I agree that another forum where people can just say they're looking for a language partner would help a lot. At the moment, we just have our own profiles (which can be hard to find) or the Discussion board (which can get congested with the same language partner requests).
The second idea sounds very much like italki's Instant Tutoring but without the teaching part. Perhaps a system like this would work? When we teachers want to offer instant tutoring, we are obliged to follow certain guidelines, eg. responding promptly and being properly available. If we don't follow the guidelines, then our ability to offer Instant Tutoring is removed. So if a similar "Ready to Talk" function is added, it could either be offered to anyone, or perhaps premium members or members with enough italki points. Either way, there would probably be the same strict conditions to follow so members don't just turn the function on then leave their computer and ignore requests, for example.
Mumtaz - thanks for your support! Maybe you're cleverer than me - if you can make copy & paste work here, please go ahead and post the same discussion over at the English forum. I wouldn't mind that in the least, I promise!
Andrea - thanks for commenting. I agree with most of what you're saying. However, I do think you're a bit too strict about language partners having exactly the same level. In my experience it's much more a question of compatibility in terms of, oh, sense of humour, common interests or whatever matters most to you. If that's there, I for one will gladly put up with hearing somebody butchering my language ;)
Oriana - thanks for commenting! If you're really interested in talking to me, would you send me a private message to give me a rough idea of when you'd be available?
Melanie and Marijana - thanks! It's great to know I'm not alone in this!
Peachey - thanks for commenting! Yes, I agree that it might be a good idea to be a bit restrictive about the instant skyping-thingy - should it every materialize which I'm not too optimistic about.