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Miriam
How to italki: Looking for language exchange partners
If you're completely new to italki you should read this beginner's guide first: https://www.italki.com/discussion/203952

First read italki's instructions about language exchange: https://support.italki.com/hc/en-us/sections/201133628-Language-Partners

1. How can I look for language exchange partners here?

First of all: unfortunately, there is NO place on italki for placing language partner requests. And italki is NOT the best place for finding partners for instant conversations. 

The purpose of the discussion section is to discuss language and culture related topics and train your target languages. Read more about discussion here: https://www.italki.com/discussion/204809

The purpose of the notebook section is to upload texts in your target languages and receive corrections. Read more about the notebooks here: https://www.italki.com/discussion/204748

The purpose of the answers/questions section is to ask language and culture related questions. Rule number six of this section is: "6.Do not ask for language partners! Bad: Someone teach me English! Bad: I want to learn French * If you're looking for language partners, try searching for one!" Read more here: https://www.italki.com/question/new

The designated tool for looking for language partners is this one: https://www.italki.com/partners. When you browse through this tool watch out for following points when you consider writing someone to offer language exchange:
- Is the user still active? There are many abandoned accounts. Users who haven't logged in for months or years are very unlikley to reply to messages.
- Is the user indicating that they're interested in language exchange? Not everyone here is looking for language exchange but just for taking classes or using the other community sections.
- Is the user studying your native tongue? The nature of language exchange is that you give and take. You can't expect a native speaker of your target language (especially if it's a language as high in demand as English) to talk to you without gaining anything from the conversation. Users who are studying your native toungue are more likley to respond.
- Is the user studying your target language and also interested in talking to other non-native speakers? For some languages, it might be very difficult to find a native speaker as a partner. Therefore it makes sense to look for other fellow learners for practising.
- Does the other user have certain restrictions? If a user is looking for a partner from a certain gender, age range, nationality, profession or something else and you don't fit their profile, just respect their boundaries and move on. Nobody is obliged to do language exchange with everyone.

2. But if I'm not allowed to place language partner requests how can I gain the attention of potential partners?
- Have an interesting introduction in your profile. Write something about your language learning goals, hobbies and what kind of exchange you're looking for. Many users don't like to trust "empty" profiles.
- Make sure that your mother tongue and the levels of your target languages are correctly displayed.
- Take part in interesting language and culture related discussions. This way you will meet like-minded people.
- Answer questions and correct notebook entries. Being helpful to others is the best way to make other people also want to help you.
- Don't use a stolen picture in your profile. You don't necessarily have to use a portrait of yourself as avatar but don't use pictures of other people you found online. Other users will think that you're a scammer and block you.

3. I send out 100 messages but nobody replies and I never receive any requests by other people. What am I doing wrong?

First of all: Check if other users can actually send you messages. Go to your privacy settings. If you want to be contacted by other users allow them to send you friend requests and switch your contact permissions from "friends only" to "anyone". As non-premium members can only send two friend requests per day, your chances of finding language partners will increase if you allow direct private messages.

Second: What do you write in your first messages to potential partners? Many users don't reply to simple "hi" and "hello" messages. Don't send out generic messages but introduce yourself in the first message, explain what kind of exchange you're looking for, why you're interested in the user you're contacting and what you can offer them. 

4. I can't find any native speakers as partners. Why nobody wants to help?
For some languages, especially English, it's very difficult to find language exchange partners. There are many more learners than native speakers here on italki. That doesn't mean that the native speakers don't want to help but that they already have partners and/or helping in other ways (correcting notebook entries).

Six reasons why it may be difficult to find a language exchange partner... by Richard: https://www.italki.com/discussion/231944
Apr 22, 2019 10:53 AM
Comments · 23
@Quasimodo

I get your point. You find my posts condescending. Maybe I should have phrased it differently. But everyday there are posts like "how to use this app?", "why can't I find a language partner?" "Why does nobody reply to me?" and then new users post their language partner requests or texts for corrections everywhere, completely disregarding the differences between the different sections. And many write "text me!" but don't allow private messages and then wonder why they never receive messages. I'm just tired of explaining the same things again and again. So, I thought, I just write everything together once and for all. I guess it's my last attempt to support the italki community. I can't force anyone to do anything and I highly doubt that the majority of new users are reading the italki policy and instructions. But anyway. I won't write anymore "how to italki guides". They'll disappear into oblivion in no time.

April 22, 2019

"If you're completely new to italki you should read this beginner's guide first:"

should - modal verb - used to make a suggestion, a recommendation, or to provide constructive advice

"used to say or ask what is the correct or best thing to do:" - Cambridge Dictionary
"used when you are giving someone advice by telling them what you would do if you were in their position." - Collins Dictionary
"used to give or ask advice or suggestions" - Oxford Dictionary


Nothing condescending here... let's move on...

April 22, 2019
Thank you for this post Miriam!
July 19, 2020
What really gets my goat is the obvious flaws of the language partners page. I understand it's deliberate and it's a business move since they want people to book lessons instead of language-exchanging for free, but boy is it annoying when I spend hours scrolling through that language partners page because
a) you can't filter by language level. It would be so much easier if I could just set it to only show me people who are advanced in English, but instead, it shows me learners of all levels, and most of them are beginners or intermediate,
b) you can't filter out the teachers and tutors. I see a nice introduction, I click on the person's profile, excited...and then see that it's a professional teacher or community tutor who is only here to teach. And italki seems to deliberately make it so that the people displayed on the top of the language partners page are always teachers and tutors. Grr.
c) you can't filter out people who are not active anymore so again you have to weed through hundreds of profiles that were last active three months ago :(

About two weeks ago, I decided to look for one more language partner and I'm still looking. At this point, I'm considering giving up or posting yet another request on the discussion board because the whole process is starting to look like a wild goose chase.

Great guide, by the way, Miriam. Sorry for the rant above, I just wanted to express my frustrations about italki's crappy language partner search system.


July 12, 2020
Hi Miriam! I've been trying to write a posting about this topic based on my own recent experience. I'll comment here instead.

I've been an italki member since 2016. I usually hide my profile from the partner search. A couple weeks ago, however, I made my profile "public" and offered a one-time language exchange on a specific day.

On my profile, I provided instructions on how people could arrange the one-time exchange with me. I asked that people please follow the instructions.

The instructions were easy: (1) choose a time slot; (2) choose a time length (30 or 45 minutes); and (3) suggest 2-3 topics of conversation.

I got 30 messages in the first 36 hours. Only 3/30 followed the instructions. To those 3 people, I gave exactly the time they requested.

I got other messages too. One man wrote a very condescending message: "INSTRUCTIONS to deal with you, Madam ????? My God !! Is there such a kind ?? Well, some like it complicated ..."

I guess I prefer "Madam" over "hey gorgeous," which someone else wrote.

I'm looking forward to the language exchanges that I now have scheduled, but the process itself was discouraging. People ignored my profile. I was insulted and flirted with.

This experience repeats whenever I make my profile visible to the partner search. As a result, I don't engage with new people here very often.
March 30, 2020
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Miriam
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), French, German
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin)