How can I practise speaking and writing the language?

Whether you're learning alone or following a class, you'll learn much faster if you can practise speaking the language regularly. And you can do so free by participating in a conversation exchange scheme over the internet.

How does the scheme work?

The concept is simple : you link up with a person who is a native speaker of the language you want to learn, and who also wants to learn the language you speak. You then meet on line at regular intervals for conversation practice, using a programme like Skype, or practice writing by e-mailing each other. The conversation will be half in your language, which your partner is trying to learn, and half in your partner's language, which you're trying to learn.

How do you find a partner?

First of all you'll need to register for a site like eTandemEuropa or The Language Exchange, both of which allow you to find a partner who speaks the language you want to learn. eTandem asks you to register and then finds a partner for you. The Language Exchange allows you to search the list of people who have already advertised for a partner and make your own choice.

What should you talk about?

If you are at an advanced level, you may want simply to meet your language partner and chat about anything that comes to mind, but at lower levels this may not be possible - and neither is it the best way to consolidate your knowledge of the language. set specific objectives for the meetings which allow you to practise the language you have recently been studying in your language learning programme. for example, if you have recently studied past verbs, talk about what you did at the weekend or on your last holiday. if you've been working on dialogues concerned with checking in and out of hotels, tell your partner that that's what you'd like to practise. Or if you've been studying ways of making suggestions, ask your partner to tell you about three problems she has, so that you can give her some advice.

You can e-mail your partner prior to your meeting to tell him or her about your objectives, so that s/he has time to prepare and think about what s/he will say. Of course, you should do the same for him/her as well.

If you are under 18, please tell your parents about the sites and ask their permission before registering.