Richard-Business Eng
Professional Teacher
Some reasons why it is difficult to find a language partner

<o:p> </o:p>italki is a great website to get help to learn or improve the language you are trying to learn.

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Unfortunately, there are many members who find it difficult to find someone to help them.

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I started helping some English learners in 2010, as a hobby.  But now that I am an italki English teacher, I’m sorry to say that I do not have any free time to help others.

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However, there are other native English speakers who may be interested in learning your native language and helping you learn English. This relationship is called language exchange partners.

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It is a little difficult to find a native English speaker to help you because there are so many italki members who want to learn and improve their English skills.

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Here is a short list of reasons why it is difficult to find a partner (please feel free to add to this list):<o:p></o:p>

- Believe it or not, helping someone is 'work'.

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- It may seem like it would be easy to help someone, but it does take time.

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- The demand for native English speakers and partners is very high

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- Some English learners would prefer to find an exchange partner that is the same gender as the learner, e.g., female-female

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- Sometimes it is necessary to do some research to ensure that our comments, corrections or explanations are accurate (and research takes time)

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- Some good-hearted people take a fair bit of time to answer a question with a long, thorough and complete answer, and in return get simple 'thanks' in response, and sometimes that response is disappointing.

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- Time differences make it difficult to schedule a chat, e.g., Canada/US - Asia, time difference of 12 or 13 hours.

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- Some people who ask for help expect too much from the person who is volunteering their time and effort. In that case, they need to hire a teacher.

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Be patient, keep trying, and always express your appreciation when someone helps you...

Feel free to add your reasons, observations, and comments

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Aug 7, 2017 2:21 PM
Comments · 18

Hi Richard,

I completely agree with what you said, and although I know how difficult is to find good language partners in English, because there are many English students, I have to admit that I have been very fortunate in this sense! I've found very responsible, encouraging and sympathetic language partners, we both being willing to help each other. All in all, this is an exchange.

Apart from exchanges, as you said there are people who volunteer, and such as yourself: prepare learning articles, try to answer questions or correct notebooks.

I think being grateful is essential. However, it is also fundamental to be fair; if everybody wrote notebooks and nobody corrected the "Notebooks section" would make no sense, I have seen people who just write and never correct others contributions, although they speak languages as popular as English, French or Spanish. I think italki should make it "compulsory", if you write a notebook, you should correct one if there are entries with no corrections in your mother tongue.

I do not know if I expressed myself properly (hopefully I did!) but this is my opinion and my experience. 

Thank you so much for your ideas!

By the way, meaningless discussions asking for help should be banned or moved somewhere else (a special section?)

August 7, 2017

Another reason is that many people who complain that it is not possible for them to find language partners are actually not willing to do anything in return. Usually when I look at their profiles they haven't corrected any notebooks or answered any questions about their native language, even if there are some notebook entries that are not corrected and questions that are not answered.

Also, approaching people in a wrong way. No information on their profiles, not participating in discussions, notorious "Hi" messages, and even being rude to those whose help they are asking.

August 7, 2017

All excellent points, Richard. 

This is perhaps the one that I think most people don't understand:  Believe it or not, helping someone is 'work'.

Even talking takes concentration. If someone you're helping has a strong accent, the listener must concentrate in order to catch everything and fill in the gaps to get the meaning. Many learners overestimate their proficiency and may get a little frustrated that the other person is not understanding them.


August 7, 2017

To add to what Derek said, italki used to ask every new user to write a notebook essay describing themselves and talking about their language goals. I think this is the best way to make yourself stand out from hundreds of other name-only profiles.

I've stopped caring about whether I get thanked or not, but what saps my motivation to do more corrections is seeing people keep doing things I have explicitly told them were wrong, sometimes four or five times. It makes me wonder if I am completely wasting my time.

August 7, 2017

I agree with everything you said. In addition there are the following things to note:

(1) To find a language partner go to Community > Language Partners - enter the following:

Learning:  the language your PARTNER is learning  (your own language)

Gender: Male/female or All

From: country that your PARTNER is living (where your learning language exists)

Native speaker – best to tick this, so your partner is a real expert in the language your want to learn

Living in –  city, probably leave blank

(2) Make sure that your have entered a good description of yourself in your own profile e.g. hobbies, reasons for learning the language etc. If YOU cannot be bothered to fill in a profile, why would a prospective language partner be bothered to contact you, when there are many other ones to contact with well-written profiles ?

(3) Generally speaking a photo in the profile helps, but it is understandable that some people do not want to include one

(4) Make sure that in the profile of your prospective language partner, they do want to learn your native language. If not then you are probably wasting time.

August 7, 2017
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Richard-Business Eng
Language Skills
English, French
Learning Language