Conversation Exchange: The Ultimate Guide

The answer to enjoying language learning


Have you ever noticed that the easiest way to learn something effortlessly is to enjoy what you are learning? The main barrier for people to learn foreign languages is that they need to make everyday efforts: practise every day memorizing new words and various expressions. This process can seem very boring at times and requires significant contribution of concentration and time.

One of the hardest things about learning a language is that most of the vocabulary you acquire by reading, writing and practicing other exercises is passive and does not allow you to automatically speak conversationally. In order to turn the passive lexics into active knowledge you need a way to practice all of the words, expressions, and grammar that you’ve learnt.

So, how do you make it fun and effective at the same time? The best way is to practice speaking online with a native speaker through a language exchange conversation, or a conversation exchange.

What is conversation exchange?

Conversation exchange is a way to practice the language you would like to learn with a native speaker of that language, who, in his or her turn, learns the language that you speak fluently. Let’s say you speak English and want to learn French and you want to find a language partner for your French conversation exchange. At the same time, there are many French people who would like to improve their English skills. They are eager and happy to practise with you. As you can see, this is the win-win strategy, when you both benefit from this french english conversation.

You can build the training process in different ways. First, you can speak the languages you are learning by order, one after another. For example, you are speaking English for 20 minutes, and then you are practicing French also 20 minutes. Second, everyone can try speaking only the language he is learning. In this way, you will say something in French, and your French language partner will answer in English. Have you ever tried it? It is really fun!

Why do conversation exchange?

Some language learners tend to avoid conversation exchange or do it very rarely. They can have some barriers or doubts to start, for example, they are afraid to look stupid when they have problems with speaking or they just don’t know what to talk about.

However, online conversation exchange is considered to be the most beneficial and interesting language practice to do. It is actually a core language practice which is really to boost one’s language progress. Here are some of the reasons:

1. Active language practice

Practising with a native speaker helps you train your listening and speaking skills at the same time. Speaking skills include not only transforming your passive vocabulary into active, but also pronunciation practice. Moreover, you learn new words and expressions from your language partner. It is much easier to memorize them through a live conversation, than through reading, because usually your brain perfectly links the new word to the situation from your real life.

2. Networking

Conversation Exchange for Networking
During the language swap you certainly make new friends and connections. It can even be useful for your professional life, as it is always a big asset to have friends around the world. Besides this, there is a belief that we never meet someone without any purpose. Every person teaches us something in our life.

Two friends are joyfully walking on rails. Conversation exchange practice makes people closer.

3. Sharing your interests

Do you like to discuss the things that you like with your friends? For example, sharing your thoughts about a book or movie, discussing the latest sports news or talking about your favorite cars. Why not make a little effort and do the same but in your target language? This will become much easier with a new smart language exchange app Bilingua which is going to provide the possibility to find a language buddy with similar interests to your own. The app is now available in its early Beta, and it is possible to test it and leave your feedback.

4. Acquiring new knowledge

By actively engaging in a linguistic exchange process with a partner, you will not only enhance your learning of a new language, but also enrich your general knowledge and learn new things about different cultures. For this, you just need to have in mind several conversation exchange topics that will interest you both. Also, it is important to establish good relationships with your partner, in order to feel free and comfortable during the conversation. Then you both will be more open and will be able to share more interesting things.

5. Emotional exchange

Remember that during the conversation, you are not only giving the language for exchange, but also your emotions. You will always feel happier especially after speaking with a positive and energetic person. It is much more fun than practising alone! When you talk to someone, you really feel connected.

Native Speakers: How to Find Them?

Some language learners tend to avoid conversation exchange or do it very rarely. They can have some barriers or doubts to start, for example, they are afraid to look stupid when they have problems with speaking or they just don’t know what to talk about.

However, online conversation exchange is considered to be the most beneficial and interesting language practice to do. It is actually a core language practice which is really to boost one’s language progress. Here are some of the reasons:

One obstacle many beginner language learners face is the difficulty in finding native speakers to practise with: many of them are not interested in working as ‘language trainers’ for free. So, in order to engage in free conversation with native speakers, you need to intrigue their interest somehow.

Here are the five ways you can try:

1. Find a friend / lover

If you occasionally meet a native speaker of your target language, don’t be shy and show them what an interesting person you are! Tell them about your hobbies and interests and you might find you have mutual interests and have many common topics to talk about. You may even become friends or a couple, then the frequent language practice is included!

2. Meet native speakers-volunteers

In any big city, there are always some foreigners who’ve come to visit a country or have relocated. They usually tend to find locals who are open to foreigners and can speak their language. So, they go and join a local language learning community to teach the language as volunteers. The community members really love them and give them so much attention in return. If you come to the community meeting, you can be confident that those people, including the native speakers, will be glad to talk and become friends with you!

3. Use a Conversation Exchange App

The easiest and most convenient way is to practice online. In the past, finding a native speaker was a really huge challenge, but not anymore. With Bilingua, people will be able to find language partners and chat with them for free. This app is going to be released soon and will be easily downloadable for free, for Android and iOS. It will help you overcome the language barrier very soon and develop your foreign language fluency with minimum efforts. Moreover, as an outcome, you are likely to find new friends there and learn something interesting about their countries. Consequently, you will not only improve your speaking skills, but also expand your knowledge, broaden your cultural horizons and make amazing friends! Just don’t forget to leave your email to get notified about the app’s launch.

4. Guide, host, help

One more option to find native speakers is to host them at your place through Couchsurfing. You can also meet, guide or offer some help to those who are visiting your city for the first time. You can even be paid for it, if you use services like Meetngreetme. In both cases you spend plenty of time with your guest and therefore have ample time to converse. He or she will be very grateful for your assistance and will definitely reward you with very good language practice!

5. Travel & communicate with locals

Conversation Exchange To Communicate With Locals
And the last piece of advice for you. When you are visiting the country where people speak the language you are learning, don’t miss the chance to benefit from communication with local salespeople, waiters and other service personnel. They are willing to talk to you for ages with the intention of selling you their goods or services, no matter which language level you have!

OK, What to Talk About?


When you have found your language buddy in the language exchange app, you may face the next little problem: how to start a conversation?

Well, we’ve got the answer. Apply these conversational topics and you will see how your language exchange experience will be improved. First, we are going to tell you how to start a conversation with your new partner. Then, we’ll share some magic conversational topics to get the discussion flowing!

3 major tips for the beginning of a speaking practice online


Warm up

First of all, you need to establish mutual trust and overcome the initial shyness. For this step, only simple questions are appropriate, you just need to get your buddy talking more.

Find common points of interest

Here are 3 tips to help:

1. Show your attention

Tell your conversational partner what you like in his / her: appearance, way of speaking, accent, clothing, background, voice, picture, etc. Then ask: ‘Where did you get this …?’ or ‘How did you learn this …?’ This should make your partner delighted and more open to the further conversation.

2. Demonstrate your interest

Ask what he / she did or is going to do today. Your partner might mention some activity that is also interesting to you and you might continue talking about it.

3. Learn something more specific

For example, ask what he /she ate or is going to eat today. This question can be interesting to discuss for people from different cultures. Besides this, you are likely to learn new words.

Start to exchange knowledge

After you have warmed up, turn to more serious discussion and cover topics of your mutual interest:

  • hobbies
  • latest world news
  • cultural differences
  • professional interests
  • directly language learning issues (grammar, pronunciation, idioms)

4 topics for regular conversation exchange


What to do when you have already talked about everything, but you both still need to practice regularly? The following four ideas are not only useful to continue language practice, but also help you build really good relationships with your language partner.

1. ‘My daily report’

Present to your partner 10 positive things you have experienced that day or that week (depending on how often you want to practice). With this exercise, you are not only sharing the joy and practicing a big range of useful words. If you do this exercise every day with somebody, your brain develops a very good habit: to notice and focus on positive things in your daily activity. Thus, your life will also become happier. Just try this!

2. ‘My 3 greatest news of the day / week

We always like to know our friends’ news and ‘spy on their life’. That is why we have a habit to scroll social media news feed every day. On the other hand, everyone likes to share good news. So, this topic usually works well.

3. ‘My biggest accomplishment of the day / week’

Here you can just brag a bit and get some appraisal from your partner.

4. ‘What I’ve learnt today’

Every day we learn new things, no matter small or big. This is how our life is going. Why not to pay attention on this? Your partner may laugh at you if you tell him you’ve learnt something very obvious, or he can be gald to learn something new from you, too.

The key to the above steps and for the best conversations is to always ask open-ended follow up questions! What, When, How, Why, Who are great, while closed (yes/no) questions are to be avoided.

Following the tips from this article, you will make your speaking practice as useful and enjoyable as possible every day. Also, you may be surprised to know about the everyday life of people from different countries or people who are just very different from you.

However, if you become tired of conversations, you can train your language skills through effective activities suitable for language exchange.

Now you are fully equipped and know what to do.




Do you have a story of how you managed to approach a native speaker or know a great topic for language conversation? Share it in the comments below!

11 responses to “Conversation Exchange: The Ultimate Guide

    1. Hi Sherrie! Thank you very much for the positive feedback!
      You can test our beta on the web clicking on ‘Go to Bilingua beta’, it is here: Then you will need to register (just leave your email), and you will certainly be notified when we launch the mobile versions!

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