Somewhere towards the end of last year we Retweeted an article about how to learn another language for free online. We really liked the piece and it seems you guys did too, so we wanted to come back with something similar. Except, this time, we’re looking at how you can learn a language, for free, in your local area – aka: the real world.
Online language learning is a great thing, no doubt, but we think there’s a lot to be said for learning and practicing new lingo face-to-face with native speakers. Sounds like a tough ask from your suburban housing estate in dear old Blighty, doesn’t it? Well, it turns out the internet can also help you meet real-life native speakers in your area too! How about that…
Sure, it may sound like a cheesy dating site, but Meetup.com was actually set up for “neighbours” to (get this) meet up and teach each other new skills. That makes it a pretty useful place to hook up with native speakers in your area for language exchanges. It’s a fantastic opportunity to practice your linguistic skills in real life situations by socialising with real life human beings. After all, there is only so much you can learn from a classroom or grammar book.
Visit your local university
You don’t even need the internet for this one – a novel concept in this day and age. Instead you can put your shoes on and wander down to your local university, where you’ll find hoards of overseas students who come to the UK to improve their language skills alongside their studies. And that means they’ll be screaming out to meet up with native English speakers and more than happy to help with your own language endeavours in return. Everybody wins.
There are plenty of websites designed to connect you with native speakers online, but the search function on iTalki is one of the best around. You can find language speakers based on their current location, place of birth, native language and the languages they’re learning, which makes it incredibly easy to meet people in your area with similar language interests.
Find language groups on Facebook
You’ll find plenty of language groups on Facebook too, which you can use to connect to native speakers a little closer to home. If you live in one of the major cities, there’s a good chance you’ll have a group ready and waiting with popular languages like Spanish and German. You could even be lucky in one of the UK’s more quaint areas – like this fairly prominent Spanish Speakers in Norwich group. Who’d have thought?
Here we have our wildcard entry – a slightly leftfield approach to meeting language speakers, but one we’ve heard works a treat. Best of all, you can actually make money while you’re at it. You can turn spare rooms or property into language learning opportunities using Airbnb to bring travellers from all over the globe to your own doorstep. You’ll find people are more likely to choose your property when your listing is in their mother tongue, so you can target the language speakers you want to learn from and boost your bank balance at the same time!
Start your own language exchanges
And, finally, if you know there are language speakers in your area, but you can’t find any groups or events to connect with them, why not start your own? Bar owners won’t have any problems with you starting an event that brings in some extra punters – and that gives you the perfect venue to start your own language exchange events, building your own group within the community.
So free language learning doesn’t necessarily mean webcams and dodgy internet connections. Neither do you have to travel the globe to have that authentic experience. You can use the web and other resources to meet native speakers in your area, face-to-face and enjoy the perks of faster language learning by improving your skills in a real-life environment.