How to find the perfect French conversation partner and become a more confident French speaker

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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:

Couchsurfing

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 practise 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 :).

Meetup.com

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.

Polyglotclub

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 practise languages with.

There is absolutely no pressure since everyone is there to learn a language. These events are an excellent way to practise your French.

If you’re in Paris, the weekly polyglot meeting is a good way to make friends and practise 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.

Interpals

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.

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?

Benjamin Houy

Benjamin Houy is a native French speaker and tea drinker with a BA degree in Applied Foreign Languages and a passion for languages. After teaching French and English in South Korea for 7 months as part of a French government program, he created French Together™ to help English speakers learn the 20% of French that truly matters. You will also find him giving blogging advice on Grow With Less.

28 thoughts on “How to find the perfect French conversation partner and become a more confident French speaker”

  1. Message in a bottle:

    Hi there French learners. I’m a French native living in Paris who would like to improve my English. As a tour guide, I give English tours but I feel that I express myself with basic vocabulary. I’d like to correct the gramar mistakes as well, learn more idioms, be able to distinguish the queen’s English from the Northern American one and be able to understand the english books i bougth about paleopathology.

    So I’m looking for a native English speaker – ideally living in Paris to be able to meet but I’m not going to be peaky about that. Edinburgh would work as well as I’m considering to live a few months over there- who would like to exchange French/English conversations on a regular basis through whatsapp, skype…

    As Benjamin said, it’s better if we share intrests so I’ll throw in a few of mine:
    History, story telling( especially creepy ones), archeology, travelling, camping, rock climbing, social psychology, cognitive sciences, acting, anthropology, card games, paleopathology and forensic sciences, urban exloring, I play age of empires and fallen london. If I had time to go to university I’d like to study criminology, archeology or forensic anthropology. It would be just for fun, I like tour guiding too much to do something else.
    If I had a super power it would be time travel in order to see how people lived back then. I like escape games and similar things to disconect from reality.
    I’m a terrible cook so I’d be happy to learn any vegetarian recipes you’d be willing to teach me. Meditation is something that I would like to do but i don’t as I don’t know where to start.

    If you relate to some of the stuff above or think we could get along well, answer to this message, I’ll get an email alert and I’ll find a way to give my contacts. I don’t feel comfortable to leave them her.

    Best,
    Victoire

    Reply
    • Bonjour Victoire!

      Je m’appelle Caitlyn et je suis américaine. Je sais que tu veux quelqu’un qui vivre en France, mais j’ai pensé que je répondrais de toute façon à votre message au cas où tu sera intéressé à parler. Je cherche pour une personne de langue maternelle française avec qui converser pour améliorer mon français et je peux très certainement vous aider avec l’anglais! Je trouve certains de vos intérêts intrigants, alors je pense que nous entendons bien! Faites-moi savoir si tu es intéressé, sinon, pas de soucis.

      Merci,
      Caitlyn

      Reply
      • Coucou Caitlyn! Je m’appelle Syaffiqah et je suis Malaisienne. Pouvez-vous parler avec moi en français? Pcq je voudrais améliorer mon français. Si vous êtes d’accord, on peux être amies!

        Reply
    • Hello Victoire! I’m looking for a french native for me to communicate 🙂 I am a student & currently doing my degree in french as foreign language. If you dont mind, i’d like to have more conversation with french native!

      Reply
  2. I began going 5 months ago to 2 French meetups in my suburban area. After a while I stopped going, and don’t go any longer. They were both “taken over” by fluent, in some cases native, French speakers who dominate and talk to each other. Fast, fluent, French. Impossible for me to learn anything, understand, or even get in a conversation.

    Reply
  3. I am a Nigerian.
    And I really desire to have a friend I can speak French with in order to improve my fluency in the language. I can read and write French but the speaking is the problem.

    Reply
  4. I do it through “pillow talk.” That’s right…dating. It great to cuddle and chat, over breakfast, fighting…making up. You learn so many idioms! Plus many words and expressions probably not suitable for this forum!!

    Reply
  5. Bonsoir, vous avez n’avez fait que traduire l’expression “C’est en forgeant que l’on devient forgeron” mot à mot; cependant ce n’est pas la bonne traduction idiomatique. Cela devrait être “Practice makes perfect”. Ou alors vous auriez dû mettre la bonne expression en plus pour que ceux qui parlent anglais aient la référence.
    Au revoir

    Reply
    • Bonsoir! C’est un très bon point! Merci pour votre commentaire..
      C’est un très bon point, vous avez raison, nous ne pouvons pas le traduire mot par mot .. Nous devons donner un équivalent de la base de données anglaise des idiomes ..
      Ce n’est qu’ainsi que nous pouvons en avoir une idée.

      I need to correct you now, forgive me please, but it is “Practice makes it perfect”
      Au revoir.

      Reply
  6. Hello Benjamin,
    I’ve been learning French to 3 years and although, when it comes to reading on paper, I get along fairly well, but conversing in French seems to be the problem for me. Je suis Nigerianne et je suis etudiante a Alliance Francaise, Nigeria. How else can I go about it. Thanks. Keep up the good work

    Reply
  7. Bonjour Benjamin,

    J’aime tes courriels. J’ai rencontré une amie au site Françaisfacile. Il s’est arrivé exactement comment tu as décrit. Mon amie est en France et elle voulait améliorer son anglais et moi mon français. On a commencé lentement et bientôt on a échangé les courriels presque chaque jour.

    Je suis allée en France l’année passée et j’ai rencontré toute sa famille, et on a eu des visites merveilleuses. On continue notre amitié.

    Reply

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