Be proactive: optimize the time you and your language partner spend together.

For the intermediate and advanced language student, an exchange with a native speaker is one of the best ways to practice conversation, learn colloquialisms, and develop a friendship with a person from another culture. The only problem is that oftentimes these meetings end up covering the same conversational topics again and again, or break down into English.

If you are feeling that your time with a language exchange partner could be more productive, give these techniques a try.

Pick your meeting place carefully.

A favorite bar, restaurant, or cafe are all fun and popular places to meet with a language exchange partner. However, if your meeting place is too loud to talk at a comfortable level, filled with your friends, or distracting in some other way, it is probably limiting what you are getting from each meeting.

Likewise, if you find that your quiet meeting place is making the interaction between you and your partner a bit stiff, than a livelier location might loosen you both up and spark some conversation. Finding an atmosphere that works for both you and your partner is one of the most important things to developing a beneficial and productive exchange.

Establish a schedule

Another impediment to productive classes relationship is establishing a schedule and sticking to it. Be flexible at first and work to find a time that will truly work for both people. If your language partner is constantly calling and canceling meetings, make the effort to reschedule. If the meeting time is a challenge for you, don’t be afraid to suggest a change.

Initiate your own learning

To make a language exchange worthwhile you must take initiative for your own learning. Take time before each meeting to write out a few situations, sentences, questions, or words that you would like to practice in your meeting. If you notice yourself slipping into English, move back into the language you are learning.

Take Notes

A good way to maintain focus in a language exchange meeting is to take notes. Over the course of a conversation, words and phrases that challenge you will come up and taking notes will allow you to capture this language for later study.

Also, the pace of a conversation can be so fast at time, you finish without really remembering what was discussed. Notes taken from meeting to meeting will allow you to plan for the future and decrease the amount of repetition in your conversations.

Focus on communication

Generally speaking, a meeting with a language partner is not the time to ask questions about specific grammar points. It is also not your job to give lessons on English grammar, even if your partner makes frequent errors. Instead, focus on communication. If both you and your partner can express the intended ideas, the exercise should be considered a success.

That is not to say that grammar mistakes should be ignored. If errors interfere with effectively expressing meaning, or your partner is making consistent, specific, errors, they should be discussed when they happen. Just avoid killing the flow with a lengthy discussion of grammar rules.

Use a timer

With some language partners, no matter how much initiative you take, it is nearly impossible to stay on task. For situations like this, introduce the use of a timer. While it does seem a bit stiff and structured at first, keeping formal time for each segment of the meeting can do wonders for focusing the group.

When you use a timer, try to establish periods of time with specific goals in mind. An example might be five minutes of general greetings, ten minutes of sentence review, five minutes of new vocabulary, etc.

Having regular meetings with a language exchange partner is a great way to practice and improve a foreign language. It is also a great way to make a new friend. With a little planning and the use of a few organizational techniques it will be easy to get the most out of the meetings and have fun at the same time.

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  1. 10 Grammatical Mistakes You Can Avoid
    Some Trip Up Even Longtime Speakers

    By Gerald Erichsen

    * spanish grammar
    * tips for learning spanish
    * spanish prepositions

    Learn Spanis, Speak Spanish, Spanish Language, Spanish Speaking Spanish Lessons

    It’s fun to learn SpanishVisiting Buenos Aires? Meet locals and practice at Spanglish.www.SpanglishExchange.com
    Unless you’re something other than human, there’s no way to learn and use a foreign language without making your share of mistakes — and getting caught at it. With expectations that you would rather learn of your mistakes in the privacy of your home rather than being corrected, here are 10 fairly common grammatical errors, listed in no particular order, that you should try to avoid:

    * Using buscar para instead of buscar to mean «to look for.» Buscar is best translated «to seek,» which like buscar is not followed by a preposition. Correct: Busco los dos libros. (I am looking for the two books.)
    * Using un otro or una otra to mean «another.» The indefinite article isn’t needed in Spanish. Neither is one needed before cierto, which can mean «a certain.» Correct: Quiero otro libro. (I want another book.) Quiero cierto libro. (I want a certain book.)
    * Ending a sentence in a preposition. Although some purists object, it’s quite common to end sentences in English with prepositions. But it’s a no-no in Spanish, so you’ll need to recast the sentence to make sure the preposition’s object comes after the preposition. Correct: ¿Con quién puedo comer? (Whom can I eat with?)
    * Wrongly using quien in relative clauses to mean «who.» In English, we say «the car that runs» but «the boy who runs.» In Spanish, we usually use que to mean both «that» and «who.» There are a few instances, beyond the scope of this lesson, in which quien can be used to mean «who,» but in many of them que can also be used, so que is often the safer choice. Correct: Mi hija es alumna que estudia mucho. (My daughter is a student who studies a lot.)
    * Forgetting to make the cientos portion of numbers feminine when required. We say cuatrocientos treinta y dos to say «432» to refer to a masculine noun but cuatrocientas treinta y dos when referring to a feminine noun. The distinction is easy to forget because of the distance between the number and the noun being referred to. Correct: Tengo quinientas dieciséis gallinas. (I have 516 hens.)
    * Using un or una when stating someone’s occupation. The corresponding word, «a» or «an,» is required in English but not used in Spanish. Correct: No soy marinero, soy capitán. (I am not a mariner, I am a captain.)
    * Using the wrong preposition. The prepositions of English and Spanish don’t have one-to-one correspondence. Thus a simple preposition such as «in» in English might be translated not only as en but also as de (as in de la mañana for «in the morning»), which typically is translated as «of» or «from.» Learning proper usage of prepositions can be one of the most challenging aspects of learning Spanish grammar. A lesson in prepositions is beyond the scope of this article, although you can study some of them here. Correct: Le compraron la casa a mi padre. (They bought the house from my father, or, depending on the context, they bought the house for my father) Es malo con su esposa. (He is mean to his wife.) Mi coche chocó con su bicicleta. (My car ran into his bicycle.) Se vistió de verde. (He dressed in green.)
    * Using possessive adjectives when referring to body parts and articles of clothing. In English, we usually refer to a person’s body parts or clothing using possessive adjectives. But in Spanish, the definite article (el or la) is used when the person the body part or item belongs to is obvious. Correct: ¡Abre los ojos! (Open your eyes!) El hombre se puso la camisa. (The man put on his shirt.)
    * Wrongly using days of the week. Days of the week are usually used with the definite article (singular el or plural los), and it isn’t necessary to say that an event happens «on» a certain day. Correct: Trabajo los lunes. (I work on Mondays.)
    * Avoiding those redundancies that are required in Spanish but would be incorrect in English. As noted in this lesson, a redundant indirect object is sometimes required, and as this lesson points out, double (or even triple!) negatives are sometimes needed. Correct: Juan le da una camisa a él. (John is giving a shirt to him.) No dijo nada. (He said nothing.)

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