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Learn a Foreign Language at MyLanguageExchange.Com

Seeking to expand my language skills in Finnish and German I went online to find out if there were practical courses available. A friend recommended MyLanguageExchange.com because it offers you a lot of different languages to learn along with the options to learn via email, messages, audio chat or video chat. It can seem a little overwhelming at first but every single person I have exchanged emails with or done a chat with has been nothing but supportive. The greatest part is knowing that you are helping someone learn your language; not just the grammar aspect but slang, dialect and pronunciation.

There are people of all ages at the site and most of them have a brief profile up about their hobbies or details about the languages that they want to learn. Some have a basic knowledge of it and others are just starting. I started talking to Perttu about a year ago and his English has improved incredibly. We talk about twice a week on Skype and exchange emails too; being able to learn a language from someone who speaks it is a lot easier than learning it in a classroom. Once a month a few of his friends join us on Skype so they can learn practical spoken English. Most of the time it is just a free flowing conversation, there’s no script or lessons. You have the ability to choose how you want to communicate with people so if you don’t feel confident with your speaking skills you can start off with emails or messages.

The site offers you the chance to learn the following languages: German, Italian, Swedish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Greek, French, Korean and more. There are a total of 115 languages, to see all of the languages that the site supports, visit their Learn Languages page.

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It is free to sign up and create a profile that others can use to contact you but you always have the option to contact those who have a profile up. There is a Gold Membership that gives you more perks but I haven’t had the need to sign up for that. I have had nothing but great conversations with people that are willing to learn and take some constructive criticism. Learning from a DVD or book teaches you one aspect but sometimes you need to actually hear a native say something, especially phrases. Most formatted language books and learning aids teach you the ‘right’ way to say thing but if you don’t want to look like a tourist you are going to blend in a little better knowing local phrases and terms. I had a hard time with pronouncing some words and Perttu worked with me on them until I was able to say them effortlessly. If you were paying for a class or one-on-one instruction you could be spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars but you wouldn’t be getting what you need to be fluent.

My Finnish isn’t as solid as I would like it to be but I am able to have a conversation; it came in handy at the airport a few months ago when a Finnish family couldn’t find their departure gate. I overheard their conversation and asked them if I could help. They were a little shocked that someone knew their language but they were happy that they were going to be able to make their connecting flight. I made sure that they got to their gate and the ground crew knew they spoke almost no English. Their final destination was Los Angeles and thankfully they had someone that would be waiting for them when they landed. It felt great to be able to communicate with them and help them and they laughed more than a few times when mispronounced 18 (kahdeksantoista). I was able to tell the stewardess that their youngest child was allergic to peanuts, something that should have been on their tickets for the meals and snacks but was omitted from the second part of their flight plan. When they called for advanced boarding Justlina and Urho both hugged me and thanked me. When I told Perttu I met a Finnish family he said, “Please tell me you did not try to count for them”.

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If you are thinking about learning a foreign language or just want to hone what you do know, MyLanguageExchange.com can be a great resource. The people who are there are not being forced to learn so there is a true desire to not only learn but to teach too. Perttu has been offer a better job in his company because of his English speaking skills and now has the chance to travel all over Finland training people within the company. Compared to other sites that offer pen-pal type learning, this one has the broadest number of members and offers you different communication levels. I had a couple of basic Finnish learning programs that were engaging but extremely bland and boring. This is also an excellent resource for younger students; they can have a cyber pen-pal in a foreign country and they can help each other with pronunciation, grammar and local dialect.