Are you learning the language of a place where you currently live, or somewhere you hope to go in the future? Either way, getting to know people who speak the language as a mother tongue is one of the best free ways to ramp up your language learning.

This is obviously a lot easier if you live in the country – for example, if you want to learn Chinese while living in China, you’ll have opportunities all around you. When you learn the language of the country you are living in, you will be surrounded by people who speak the language fluently. Friends, colleagues, partners, people on the street – endless opportunities for practising the language.

However, if you’re learning Chinese and you live out in a tiny village up in the north of Scotland, you’re likely to have a lot less natural Chinese speakers around you! However, don’t let this deter you. There might not be any L1 speakers near you, but perhaps there is someone nearby who is learning the same language. A study-buddy may not be as good as a native speaker, but it’s a start. And remember, no matter where in the world you are, you can connect to native speakers online. Platforms such as Verbling, italki, and My Language Exchange can help you make connections.

Want to get more out of your language learning? Visit our Language Learning Tips blog.

About the Author

Celia Jenkins is a freelance writer and TEFL-trained English teacher who spent five years teaching in Asia. She specialises in travel writing and writing for children, and has a penchant for knitting. Celia is the author of Knitted Sushi (easy knitting patterns for beginners) and Ben and Maki – Let’s be Friends (an English/Japanese bilingual picture book). To contact Celia about freelancing work, check out her Upwork profile or contact Celia through her website.

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