In an earlier post, I gave some background on why private language lessons are expensive in Singapore.
Now, if you cannot afford to take lessons from a private teacher, it doesn’t mean you’re all out of options. Besides joining a group class, you can also look for a language exchange partner.
Singapore is a very international place, so the good news is that whatever language you are learning, there are native speakers of it living in Singapore. And with a bit of effort, you will be able to find someone to meet up with and spend time speaking each other’s language.
Now when you do a language exchange, you are basically offering your proficiency in your mother tongue in exchange for the other person’s profiency in another language. So be attentive that you spend about the same amount of time speaking one language and the other.
You’ll have to get out there yourself to find a partner. Here are some hints for you to get started:
1. Forums and classified websites
http://www.mylanguageexchange.com – This site has a comprehensive listing and search functionality. There are lots of people in Singapore wanting to teach and learn many languages. Signing up and making a profile is free, but if you want to contact any of the people listing, you will have to pay US$ 6.00 for one month’s access.
http://sg.88db.com – This is a popular classified site in Singapore. Listing is free, or you can surf listings and approach someone offering language exchange. Look in the category “language lessons” for people offering mutual exchange.
2. On Facebook
There is a popular group on facebook called the Singapore Language & Cultural Exchange Club with lots of members speaking different languages and eager to learn more about your language and culture. They used to meet up every now and then; I’m not sure if this is still the case, but among its 700+ members you are very likely to find a partner to exchange with.
3. Language exchange gatherings
Tete-a-tete is a monthly gathering of language learners that takes place at a different café every month. If you’re eager to learn French, Spanish, Japanese, German or Mandarin, you’ll find plenty of interesting people at all levels to have a chat with.
Another lively community in Singapore for language exchange is the Japanese meetup.
4. In real life
Another strategy is to go where the native speakers go. For example, if you speak Mandarin and English fluently and want to learn German, why not approach the German embassy and German associations offering to help people to learn Mandarin? If you want to speak Turkish, there is the ‘Turkish ice cream man’ at Boat Quay. He may know someone who’s interested to exchange with you. Let your friends know what you are looking for and what you have to offer, and you’ll find that a language exchange partner is very close by.
Do you already have experience with language exchange? How did you find your partner?