Why is it so hard to find a language partner?

Even though we receive many language exchange requests every week, the probability of getting to talk with some of those contacts is very low, much lower than I'd had imagined when I started using italki. Of course, most of us have family, job, and busy schedules but sincerely I think the biggest barrier is to be afraid of embarrassment of talking with an unknown person and expose part of our life. Not to mention the stressful feeling of making mistakes while our brain and tongue are struggling to express our ideas in the way we are used to do it in our first language.
In my personal experience when I get nervous before or during a conversation the magic solution has been to break the ice with a smile, positive attitude and sense of humor. I've always heard that we learn from making mistakes, so if I'm going to learn from every error, bad pronunciation and wrong usage of the grammar, I'm ready to learn a lot .. a lot, literally! ;)

What has been your experience about it?

Aug 8, 2014 3:51 PM
Comments · 33

You really need to take the initiative to find some language partners and start talking to them. Don't sit around waiting for people to contact you.

In the 6 weeks since I joined italki, I've gone to the Community -> Language Partners page many times, followed 45 people, sent follow requests to most of them (you can only send out 5 per day if you don't pay), 26 followed me, I've had at least one Skype conversation with 13 of them, and I regularly talk with about 4 of them. There are a few people who have responded to my follow request, and I really want to talk with them, but we haven't connected yet (usually because of the difficulty in finding a time convenient for both of us). I encourage them to add me on Skype, and I keep bugging them. "Are you available?" "Would you like to talk now?"

One person who I've been "chasing" for a month finally got in touch while I was online a couple days ago. We have an appointment to talk two days from now. Persistance pays!

Only about 5 people have initiated a contact with me. In most cases I haven't responded because I'm mostly interested in talking with engineers or engineering students, so I can improve my language skills in that subject. That shows why you need to contact a lot of people in order to find a few that will be good language partners - not eveyone you contact will be suitable.

Apparently almost 55,000 people "like" italki on Facebook, so I expect there are plenty of English (and other major language) speakers on this site. You just need to do something to attract the attention of the people you want to meet. If you are passive, you'll disappear into the crowd, and no one will know you're here.

August 8, 2014

I agree with everyone on here except Jank. Sorry, buddy.


I'm just making up numbers, but, for example:


If I send out 50 follow requests.

I get 40 responses.

I get 10 that will add me on Skype.

I get 2 who are willing to text chat.

I get 0 who are willing to even audio chat (not even video!).


I'm not going to keep bothering someone if we haven't made a connection within 2 messages. That feels too creepy/pushy to me. If that works for you, more power to you, but I think most people will not be willing to do that.


Also, finding an exchange partner probably depends a lot on what language/country you are targeting too. I'm targeting Japanese, and I've heard (multiple times from multiple sources) that Japanese people are extra shy and afraid of being embarrassed. It's really frustrating because having to pay a good chunk of money for an hour long session isn't enough for a beginner like me. I really need practice without as much time and money pressure.


Basically, I'm relying on paid tutoring sessions like a lot of you guys are. italki is really good for that! Finding language exchange partners needs a lot of work. They need a better method for doing that where you can post up your connection preferences (text only, audio + text, video + audio + text, etc). I guess in a way it makes sense for their business because they will get more money out of it if people fallback to paid sessions. That feels short-sighted though. This site is like 75% of the way there. If they improved the language exchange interface, I would recommend the site to all my coworkers and friends in a second. Now, I'm not really recommending it to that many people because it's basically just good for finding online tutors.

August 9, 2014

  I think it is difficult to find a language partner.


  I was determined to learn French but people laughed at me when I spoke.  I was hard to try again, after that. 


  I feel like I need to begin again.

August 8, 2014

I generally ignore anyone who just asks me "out of the blue" to follow them. Follower requests in my experience don't indicate any willingness to have an intercambio. I think a large number of people on here just want to bank 500 followers against their username.

August 9, 2014

To be honest, I thought that English speakers are in a better position, than any other non-English speaking person. I supposed they don't have a problem to find a language partner, since English is the most popular language here. It might be similar to the situation described by Dorothy - many people wan make friend with a native English speaker. I was surprised to discover to so many complaints from the USA people about lack of language exchange partners.

August 9, 2014
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