Make the most of your language exchange with a pen pal

To master a language you need a lot of practice. Language exchange is a natural, free, and a more effective way to learn and practice a foreign language than many other popular methods, like taking classes or watching movies.

To be able to speak Russian (or any other language) fluently, you need to teach your brain to constuct the sentences differently, and eventually to be able to think in Russian. Thoughtfully composing a message to your pen pal gives your a right kind of practice to achieve that: from the comfort of your home, you have time to think about what you want to say, translate it into the language you study, check the translation a few times to make sure you applied all the knowledge you have and didn’t miss anything. It also enriches your vocabulary with words and expressions that you need to know to be able to express your opinion about the things that are interesting to you.

On the other hand, reading your pen pal’s message is also a wonderful opportunity to learn the real spoken language, with its “incorrect” grammar, informal expressions and slang.

On top of that, language exchange with a Russian pen pal is an excellent way to make a Russian-speaking friend and learn about Russian culture. It’s a way to bridge the gap between your classes or textbook and real world communication with real Russians.

Unfortunately, it often happens that people find pen pals but it turns out that they have nothing common to talk about. To avoid this, follow these recommendations and make the most of your practice:

  • First thing first, find a right person to talk to. On our site we give you an opportunity to express yourself and describe what you like to talk about. Don’t hesitate to benefit from that and list all the things you are intersted in, this way you might find a real soul mate. Look for people with similar interests or interested in the thing you would like to learn about – sincere questions on one side and passionate answers of the other can stir a very interesting and educative conversation.
  • Write everything in both languages – as tedious as it seems, this works good both for you and your pen pal: writing only in Russian (or any other language you study), depending on your level, can seriously limit your abilities to express yourself, thus adding the same sentence written in your own language allows your Russian friend to understand you better, correct your mistakes, learn some colloquial expressions you used and maybe even teach you the same expressions in Russian. Besides it trains the reading skills of both of you.
  • Don’t be shy! If you are shy in life and a kind of person that listens more than speaks, the “pen pal” format is good opportunity for you to finally start showing people the good sides of you that nobody knew about.
  • If you are lucky to find a soul mate and there is a lot to say, move to live conversations on Skype or any other software. Remember, that you need to be at least at an intermediate level to feel comfortable a live conversation. If you are a beginner, stick to writing until you build some vocabulary, learn to construct the phrases and understand at least 30%-50% when listening.
  • Be nice and don’t forget that your partner wants to practice as well. Give a little or more feedback on what your pen pal wrote. You both would benefit of correcting the errors in each other messages, and adding explanations, when needed, why it is like that and not the other way.
  • Ask when you don’t understand. If your partner uses a word of phrase you couldn’t translate or didn’t understand how to use, ask to explain or re-phrase it. If you’d like to practice a particular area, such as verb tenses, gender, sentence structure, expressions, spelling, etc., you can ask your partner to pay closer attention to that area when giving corrections. But don’t make the corrections a goal, strive for communication, not correction.
  • Ask your partner to translate your message in his native language in a more natural way, thus you’ll be able to can see how a native speaker expresses the same ideas. Do the same for your partner, and doing that don’t hesitate to use idioms, informal expressions or slang.
  • And last but not least: don’t forget that you represent your country and your culture when talking to foreigners. Make an effort to leave a good impression on your partner, because, want it or not, you might be the only person of your country that your partner happens to know and the impression about you will translate into an impression about all the people of you country.

Remember, it takes time to learn a language, so to stay motivated it’s very important to have fun and enjoy the process.

We can all learn from each other regardless of our level, culture and goals in language learning. Join us to share your language and culture, make new friends and find soul mates in the other part of the world!