C’est en forgeant que l’on devient forgeron (It’s by forging that one becomes a blacksmith), that’s at least what a famous French proverb says. It’s also by speaking French that one becomes a better a better French speaker.
The problem is that you may not know anyone you could speak French with. Here are several ways to find the perfect French conversation partner from any location.
How to find a conversation partner near you
Unless you live deep in the countryside, chances are that a few French persons eager to learn English live near you. And finding these people is easier than you think (hint: they all carry a baguette).
Here are several ways to find conversation practice opportunities near you:
With Couchsurfing, you can “surf” people’s couches and easily discover a new culture with natives.
But, you don’t have to host or be a guest to benefit from this social network for travellers.
If you open your local Couchsurfing page, you’ll find a list of events you can attend. Often, there will be a “language exchange event” or “tandem group event”. These are events where you can practice French in a friendly environment and meet the perfect tandem partner.
And you know the best part? Most of these events are free!
In case you don’t know, a tandem partner is a person who speaks your target language (French) and learns a language you already know (English). Such exchanges allow both persons to greatly improve their conversation skills in a relaxed environment. And who knows, your conversation partner could even become a great friend :).
If you don’t find any French conversation practice opportunity on Couchsurfing, Meetup.com is another great option.
You can use this website to find all kind of events, from conversation practice to real French courses and guided tours of a city.
How to use social networks for conversation practice
Social networks often rhyme with waste of time, but they’re also an awesome way to connect with people and learn French.
You could for example type “London French meetup”, “English French exchange London” or “French conversation practice London” in your favorite search engine or in Facebook to get the list of all the French speaking events in your city.
That’s how I met my German conversation partner when I lived in Köln.
The concept of Franglish is simple: speak 7 minutes in French, 7 minutes in English and then move to another table to meet a new partner.
This cool concept is available in the following countries:
The French website Polyglotclub regularly organizes language exchange parties all over the world. I went to a Polyglotclub event in Paris and it was truly amazing to be able to find so many people to practice languages with.
There is absolutely no pressure since everyone is there to learn a language. These events are an excellent way to practice your French.
If you’re in Paris, the weekly polyglot meeting is a good way to make friends and practice French. Last time I went, there were more French people than foreigners, so your language skills will be greatly appreicated.
How to find French conversation practice online
If you can’t find French speaking people in your city, don’t worry! Lots of websites allow you to find conversation partners.
If speaking French terrifies you, HelloTalk is the perfect start. This Smartphone app allows you to find a conversation partner living near you or anywhere in the world.
You can then chat with him/her, talk on the phone and even meet. This is a nice way to progressively get used to the French language and make friends.
On Interpals, you can select “language exchange” and find conversation partners from all over the world. That’s how I started and I actually ended up meeting many of my conversation partners. I later visited them and had an awesome time abroad.
While Interpals is great to find a penpal, you may find it easier to find a conversation partner on Italki. This is an online community of language learner where you can easily find a French teacher, a conversation partner or a pen pal.
Speaky is a social network for language learners. You can use the website to easily find French conversation practice opportunities
Speaky stands out with several functionalities that make your French conversation practice easy:
- Integrated translator
- Multilingual keyboard
- integrated video chat
Ludovic Chevalier, the founder of Speaky even wrote a post on French Together to give you tips to get the most out of your language exchange.
Who is the perfect French conversation partner?
In theory, any person fluent in French would do. But speaking in a language you learn isn’t easy, and it’s important to find someone who really motivates you. Ideally the perfect French pen pal would be someone who:
- Is fluent in French. This is of course better, but not absolutely necessary either. One of my first pen pal was Korean, and my fascination for the culture gave me the desire to speak English with her.
- Is learning your language. That way you can both help each others,
- Seems interesting. Talking to someone in a language you are learning isn’t easy, so you need to find someone you will look forward to talking to. Of course that person is different for everyone and depends on your interests.
However, if you really enjoy talking to someone who is not a native French speaker, but still speaks French very well, keep doing it. You can still learn a lot from non native speakers.
Here is the best advice I can give you: get past the language difficulties, do your best to get to know other cultures, be curious and you will never regret it.
Over to you
Have you ever been to a French conversation practice event? How did you meet your conversation partner?