Obviously, non-native English speakers come here to learn new languages (English in this case). They will want to talk with native English speakers. In the other hand, native English speakers, with the same purpose, come here to learn your language. They will talk with you If you are speaking the language they want to learn. Otherwise, they will talk with you if there were a different intention like teaching or finding a relationship.
I have problem with finding a partner to learn English and to make friend. I will tell you some of my problems in following paragraphs:
First of all, I speak an unpopular language. My native language is Vietnamese. The amount of people who is learning Vietnamese here is rare. Therefore obviously I don’t have a language to exchange. I have been here for a while, I did the searching to find some people, who speak English and also want to learn Viet, all of them have hundreds of Vietnamese are following. Clearly, I don't have any change to talk with them.
Secondly, I don’t have money for a lesson. Almost 5 years ago, after left my home and came to Russia to study, I always remind myself that I will never ask my parents for money again. I get a scholarship from Russian government, I work at a Chinese restaurant 3 nights per week and teaching guitar on Sunday, the total money I got in a month sometimes is not enough for me (with tuition fee, apartment’s rent, internet, foods, etc…). Not only that, I also need to save money for my application’s fee to apply to U.S after graduated next year. In addition to that, I am a full time student, I can’t drop my lecture to go to work and make money.
Thirdly, my English is upper intermediate level. I already passed the Toefl with a score higher than 85. Well, It isn’t a good score, of course I need to take the test again on this summer because it isn’t enough with the university’s requirement, but with this score, I think my English level is good enough to find out that talking with a beginner is boring. I know that I can’t expect my partners have the same level in English as me, but to get improve in the progress, I want to find a comparable language partner or native speakers.
Last but not least, I always want to talk with a native speaker, because I think that talking with native is the best way to help me improve my speaking. However most of English speakers would not like to practice with a non-native without any reward. It will be a language in the case of exchanging language, and money in the case of teaching, but I don’t have them both. The only thing I might have is a friendship :)
So with all that problems, I don’t know how to find a friend, a partner here to learn and improve my English. Do you have any advice for me? I would very appreciate it! Please give me your thoughts! even If you said I’d better get out of this website and give me right reasons to do that, I would listen to you and I would really really appreciate it!
<em>P/s: Fortunately, I could write notebook entries and get corrected on this website, this is an amazing benefit for me to improve my writing skills :)</em>
I am a native American English speaker and I am actually interested in learning some Vietnamese which I could then teach to my niece who is half-Vietnamese. It is a long story that I can tell you more about in private IM. Anyhow, if you are still interested in practicing your English with a native speaker, then let me know. I could chat with you in English for free in exchange for you teaching me some Vietnamese. lol I will drop you my Skype username in email.
Divide your language goals into language synthesis and analysis. Most people get better at synthesis via some sort of feedback method which, for native speakers, begins when they utter their first word. Their parents/teachers are constantly giving them corrective advice/feedback on usage, simple sentence examples to work with, etc. As they get older this process imprints a "does this sentence sound right" sensibility into them. Sometimes, they might not even know why a particular sentence construction sounds weird to them. Let’s assume for now that you're not going to get any help this way.
Okay, what about language analysis? To get better at analysis your brain simply needs to get better at recognizing syntactical patterns in the language. How can you get better? Why, grammar ofcource! You have to become a mini grammar-expert to be able to reason accurately as to why a particular sentence is correct. In fact, you will have to become better at grammar than most native speakers. This is not going to be fun. Grammar analysis is very very boring and requires that you spend days/weeks/months poring over arcane rules which have accrued a lot of cruft over time. Once you've gotten to be fairly good you can use your language analysis superpowers as an internal feedback mechanism to get better at synthesis.
This doesn't cover everything about language acquisition. You also need to study different figures of speech, colloquialisms, etc. For some of these, a native speaker might be required to help you understand how to use them. But that is the icing on the cake, you first need to avoid burning the cake =)
With regards to not having anyone to practice with-you need to think a bit more creatively. What are you bringing to the table? You have enthusiasm and a bit of free time and you can run errands. How about chatting up retired English-speaking expats living in your community? They might enjoy a chat every now and then.
However most of English speakers would not like to practice with a non-native without any reward. ---Luis
Luis, I think the issue here is not merely that you cannot find a Native who will practice with you without any payment. The issue here is for you to find a person who is more rare still. You need to find someone who is willing to be a friend and to practice without while not demanding a reward.
There is only one teacher I know of in history who taught; "freely ye have received, freely give."
You can make the best of the situtation however. Audio and Visual recordings of all kinds are available at little cost for practice. With one of my students, I was practicing with the Lyrics and Soundtrack to the Movie Musical "Oliver". It was a great stufy material.
@Kapil: Thank you for your answers. I will try to find a best solution for my situation.
>Why when kids get older and they begin to think "does this sentence sound right". I think their brain is doing the analysis at that moment, not synthesis.
At that point this becomes an internalized/unconscious process of pattern recognition rather than an explicitly analytical process of parsing the sentence and thinking about its grammar etc.
>Do I really need to become a mini grammar-expert?
I proposed one solution to your problem of not having any one to practice with. You need to decide if that’s what you want to do :)
>What is grammar analysis, Does it mean that I have to not only read and try to remmember grammar rules, but also doing the analysis it like a philologist?
You analyze a sentence by breaking it down into its constituents/morphemes, making a syntax tree out of it, seeing if the grammar holds up etc. Again, it’s not something any learner *should* do. But you are asking for advice on how to get better at a language without speaking to anyone. I'm proposing a solution instead of saying it can't be done. ;)
>However I think I could do it. Do you have any advice for a person, who never took any grammar lesson before?
Maybe you can pick up a beginner level grammar book and see if its something you can enjoy/tolerate.