Emily
Social skills while doing a language exchange
Hello everyone

Hope you're doing good in these though times.
Today I'm writing about a topic that will be interesting for many, I think. Language and cultural exchanges can be very fulfilling and rewarding but sometimes kind of frustrating. Have you ever encountered people here on Italki, or on other language learning platforms, that seemed to have very few or no social skills at all? It sometimes happen to me. Some people give very short answers, "monosyllabic" answers like "yes" or "no", when talking to them it almost feel like we are bothering them and they don't want to talk at all. My guess is that not everyone like talking about him/her, some people are very private, some may not be comfortable talking to strangers but then why would you join a site where the main purpose is talking to strangers ? XD
I'm very talkative and chatty, so I always try to make people feel comfortable. But sometimes even when I try to make the conversation happen, there are some people with whom it just doesn't match. I would for example tell them about a great experience I had, about a hobby and they would simply reply "great", "nice". I generally stop replying to this type of people because it's pointless lol.

Have you ever experienced that ? If so how did you deal with that ?
Jun 4, 2020 3:03 PM
Comments · 13
@Jonathan Bonjour! You're being too hard on yourself. Vous avez un beau visage. I'm learning French. Although I'm busy at the moment with my work, if you want to connect with me to exchange in the future it'll be my pleasure.

@Nathan you're describing me haha. I too sometimes stare blankly at my computer screen. I sometimes even forget how to say thank you in that language, haha.

@Emily I think sometimes people initiate but later they realize talking and learning will require more effort, and they go into hibernation like a bear in the winter, haha. I'm too busy with work these days, but I'd love to connect with you for French in the future.

@Sol I've had positive experience with most of my partners. Even if there's a negative experience, I understand they might be looking for something else so no hard feelings :)
June 6, 2020
It's hard finding someone who can keep the conversation going. But when you do, it's like a gift. I've had a few partners here whom I ended up Skyping with only once or twice because they weren't very talkative even when I tried to channel the conversation into a more thought-provoking, lending-itself-to-discussion direction. As of now, I only have one language partner whom I talk to regularly, but he's great and we always have something to discuss, so I'm very grateful for that! We usually talk for an hour or two, which is already some practice, and our last Skype conversation broke the record since it lasted four hours (we got into a <em>very</em> heated debate about censorship on the internet, lol).
June 7, 2020
I might be one of those poor responders, either because my language level is not sufficient to take a major role in the conversation, or because the main purpose for me is not to speak myself but to practise listening to the language I am trying to learn. However I always try to help my partner in English, though this may not contribute to discussion of the topic.

I receive a large number of requests for language exchange, and I used to accept them and end up speaking solely in English, because I was unable to follow what my partner was saying in the language I am trying to learn, and did not dare to ask for everything to be repeated, and because I am unable to put together a sentence in that language.
June 6, 2020
It's a skill to open up another person and make them feel safe to communicate better. Empathy works great for me in this case. I generally gauge whether their personality type is more toward surface level or deep meaningful conversations. According to that, I customize the experience. Also, it helps to internalize that they're not here to entertain me. Some people are really shy or have insecurities about their conversational/ language skills, so making them feel comfortable goes a long way.
But sometimes when they are not even giving proper reply to texts then give them 2-3 chances and then it's time to move on.
June 5, 2020
To be honest I haven't had that type of experience, but it is understandable. Of course there have been times when my language partner and I didn't connect at all, and therefore the exchange ends up being a one time experience. What about the other side of the coin? Have you come across with good language partners? I'd love to read about a nice expereince.
June 5, 2020
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Emily
Language Skills
Catalan, English, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
Learning Language
Catalan, English, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish