To start afresh in the New Year: Tips for when talking to a foreigner + (teensy)UPDATE

One thing I’ve come across a lot when talking to  foreigner who doesn’t know much English or only knows basic English or…in fact any non-native English person that doesn’t have THAT much contact with us native Englishmen/women is the confusion about certain phrases we may subconsciously come out with.

Simple phrases that we use in everyday lingo such as ‘How come?’, ‘What’s up?’ and ‘OH ffs…’ are just weird to them. ‘How come?’ means ‘Why?’ in a casual manner and it most likely derives from the phrase ‘How did that come about?’

We know what it means, we’ve always known what it means, it’s just a phrase we come out with when we’re in conversation however, non-natives, especially those outside of Europe, will most likely not understand what ‘How come?’ means. The words ‘how’ and ‘come’ are two different things, and, well, let’s think about it. Putting these two words together with their original definitions does not logically equal the question ‘why?’

Phrases like this can make speaking to some foreigners slightly difficult so sometimes it’s best to be aware of why they may not understand you. I’m not however saying phrases such as ‘How come?’ and ‘What’s up?’ and the sarcastic phrase ‘Well NOOOOO….’ should be avoided. We should still speak normally, it’s how they learn. They ask what we mean, we explain, they gain extra vocab. It’s good practice. All we should do is be aware of what we’re saying!

On another quick note, as you can see I’ve gone through a lil’ blog refurbishment. I’d been meaning to create a personalised background for a couple of months now and finally drew moi! The actual layout of my blog has changed as well just because I can’t change the colour of the text or title text on my blog as I have to pay (meh) and because it was white it wouldn’t show up with my preferred background. I will switch back to my old layout probably is I ever pay or find a way around it but for now it’s this lovely layout! (: Hope it’s not  too different!

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An issue with being on more than one language exchange?

So today I’m going to talk about a problem I’ve had. If you’re anything like me and you’re on more than one language exchange site or plan to be in the future please heed my advice!

One issue I’ve come across frequently but have been crapped on how to handle it is the problem of acquiring too many contacts. When you’re on a good language exchange for a while you’ll keep getting contact requests and sometimes, whether It be because they seem really nice, can genuinely help you study your language, or they just seem pretty hot, you’ll end up accepting most of them. Every time. Being someone who likes everything in one place I tend to give my Facebook or Skype ID to people who want to learn English and can teach me Japanese or Korean. Since I’m on about 3 sites (2 of which are very active), this has created a problem for me. I have too many people on my social networks and half on them I rarely, if never, even talk to. I therefore went through a clean up process. I deleted anyone I had never spoken to and was sure I probably never would, I deleted people who just weren’t helping me and who I hadn’t spoken to in a reasonable amount of time. I kept the people I talk to regularly and who are either well prepared to teach me or who I love speaking with. I now have a select group of people with whom I’m happy to spend time on.

My overall advice? When you have a small group or event just one or two people you can really sit down and talk with, stop accepting requests from people on your lang exchange sites, or even suspend your account! Some sites with a status or description can be useful as you can let people know you’re not taking requests anymore. The problem with having too many people is that you’ll eventually find it tiring and tedious to keep up with skyping everyone, spending a good amount of time messaging everyone and making sure you’re getting relevant info back and forth between the two of you. If all you’re doing is saying ‘Hi!’ let ’em go. It’s in the best interest of both of you and your time!

Good luck 친구’s and keep safe! 🙂


What NOT to do on a language exchange site

Fag it. I love writing so this one’s going up today too. Good god it’s ra-HAY-ning here guys! I swear England, what thaaa frig?! Anyway anyway!

1.) Firrrrst things first.

goldmember tranny

*SCHLAP* (cannot find a Foxxy Cleopatra tranny slapping Austin Powers gif online GOD!)

‘Now make sure you reveal as much chest as you can and as for the makeup PILE THAT SHIZ ON!’ said no one ever. Don’t turn yourself into a human optical illusion because when they find out you’re really a troll they’ll be gone like *that*. Just kidding. BUT! You’re basically just showing that you’re not taking a language exchange seriously and the only people you’ll get contacting you are peeps who are, how do I say this, not looking to exchange languages. Yes. some people are on there to do just that.

Just a simple photo of you, you can pose but not looking like you’re smushed up against a window if you’re following me. Basically no chest, no fake face and no ridiculous expression in an attempt to look ‘sexier’. I made the mistake of attracting the wrong sorts of people anyway by doing nothing, which can happen quite commonly with girls, and it ended up on Skype text chat with him asking me to play a bad, BAD version of ‘would you rather’. Dear god…I can only thank the LAWHD that most people who are signing up for language exchanges are not these types of people anyway so summarised? Just don’t try to be someone you’re not, it only ends in crap.

2.) If you’re genuinely looking for a language exchange partner you end up looking for a clear picture of someone’s face right? Although in some cases this can be dismissed if their description sells them. Your description is the second thing people will look at on most lang exchange sites. It’s basically where you can say what you’re looking for in your own words.

E.g. ‘I’m looking to meet new friends who can teach me blah blah blah I can teach you English and explain our culture’ or ‘I’m looking for a Japanese/Korean language exchange partner who can help me with grammar etc etc I can help you improve your English!’

Don’t put anything too demanding like ‘I want’ and ‘I need’ as it sort of depicts you as a possessive person in a way and nobody wants a controlling partner. Just put in what you’d ‘like’ and what you can give back. When people hear they can get something out of it you’ll be raking in the requests!

3.) I don’t recommend putting your contact information in the description just because, as I mentioned in the last post, you may have some people contacting you that you’re really not that interested in and if they get hold of your Skype ID or your facebook or your phone number (god forbid) you may be subjected to random messages that will.get.annoying (interpals.net is a site that this can happen on). Wait until someone contacts you or you contact them and then switch contact details.

Some language exchange sites actually forbid people to include contact details in their descriptions (mylanguageexchange.com enforces this rule) and can warn and ban you from the site if done again.

4.) Don’t tick the ‘willing to meet in person’ box if you’re not willing to meet in person! I made this mistake and ended up making excuses for a good few weeks before changing it. You might think ‘meh, I could meet them if I wanted to I guess plus it’s not even likely that anyone is going to ask me to meet them anyway!’ but if somebody sees you’re ‘willing’ to then they will ask! The fact is, some people are prepared to go through hour long train journeys just for a drink in a café with you and that costs money! If they’re prepared to do that only to be let down because you chickened out, save them the disappointment and un-tick the box. On the other hand, many people who want to meet in person are also completely fine on Skype or even text chat so you won’t necessarily lose them because you can’t meet up, it’s just nicer to save time by being truthful.

5.) DON’T use it as a dating site. This is probably the crappest thing ever, who wants to be sent a request thinking they’ve found a great person who could really help them improve their linguistic skills only to find out they just want to date them. You might get a little flattered but in the end it’s just irritating. I’m pretty sure Asians don’t want to be talked to just because someone wants to date them for their ethnicity (and maybe because they’re good looking) and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t either. Nobody does, so don’t. Go on a dating site, there are ones specifically for your ‘specifications’ I’m sure.

6?) Some people would talk about names on lang exchange sites but to be quite honest, I don’t have a massive problem with someone’s name. I’ll admit I may be slightly more attracted/drawn to a user that has an actual real name as their username but if they don’t it never determines whether or not I message them. Ever. Just don’t make it anything sexual. I did actually see one that said ‘Imgonnalickyoursushi’ which made me laugh so hard! And yes I did send a message complimenting their name…how could I not!? Paha! I suppose interesting or unique usernames may catch someone’s eye but it’s not the name that does it for someone. Quite a few of my friends have had usernames related to cars and food and it never bothered me because like I said earlier, first the photo (but not alllll the time) then the description. The little details come afterwards.

So that’s what NOT to do on a language exchange, if you have any questions about the language exchanges just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

I’m going to list the lang sites I’ve used now and rate them:

mylanguageexchange.com – most popular, very good! I got responses very quickly but AFTER I became a ‘gold member’ which allowed me to message other users. If you’re not a gold member you can’t do this. Down side is you need to pay to become a gold member, you can do this through months. It’s not expensive and it’s worth it because you instantly become attractive because you can respond to people’s HI’s.

lang-8.com – Awesome! You basically write diary entries in your chosen language and people can correct and comment on your entry to help you! I’ve earned myself a small reputation of being quite good at correcting some english entries myself, it’s really fun!

Interpals.net – really good and casual, it’s more of a penpal site where people can express whether they want a language exchange or a friendship or love/dating relationship. It’s cool, I’ve met nice people on there and it’s nice for casual chats!

Ittalki.com – I haven’t has much experience with this one but it is good, it’s simple and you can request to find an actual language teacher online to help you.

The top three are my most used personally because they’re so easy to use. 🙂


Being on a language exchange site!

So I think this first post should be a helpful one especially to those who are not on language exchanges yet! As someone who loves Asia, but lives in England, I don’t get to interact much with any Japanese or Koreans, the only Asians I ever see are Chinese and there are very few in my area! Being on a language exchange has allowed me to break this norm and as a result I have many Japanese and Korean friends of all ages! I think in this post I’m going to just explain how I decided to get on a language exchange site and what it’s actually like, how helpful it is etc etc and I’ll make another post maybe on the DO’s and DON’T’s or how you should approach signing up to one and using it. So without further ado; here’s my shiz!

So how did I decide to sign up? Well! It was something I’d considered for a while (yes a few months is a while!) but I was too intimidated to try it. I thought maybe there was an age limit, maybe nobody would be interested, maybe it would be really difficult to find a language exchange partner. Let me just say that all these assumptions are WRONG. There’s no age limit, I have a Japanese friend who is 15! Nobody’s interested? SERIOSULY!? There are crap loads of people wanting to learn English, even just as many wanting to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian etc etc I even have a friend who’s learning Hawaiian! If you’re talking about people not being interested in you appearance-wise…GET ON PLENTYOFFISH.COM OR SOMETHING! It’s not a dating site, although some people do use it as one which I’ll address in another post. People who genuinely want to learn English or another language that’s not their own are not looking at how pretty or hot someone is. Is it hard to find a language exchange partner? Nope! If you’re inviting (not in a sexy way) and open to learn their language or are willing to help them with a language they’re studying they’ll come running. Trust me. There you go, all assumptions debunked by someone who knows their language exchanges oh yeah baby. BACK TO THE QUESTION AT HAND *ahem*! I just decided that if I was to ever talk to, in person, a Japanese or Korean then the only way for me was to get on a language exchange and get myself some Skype: ID’s.

Actually signing up? Like signing up to any other site it requires an email address and a password and blah blah blah but then it allows you to start personalizing your profile, so, picking a username, adding a description that people will see, usually your age and always your native language and what languages you’re studying. On most sites you can simply message someone or send a friends request but on some other sites they require payment (I’ll elaborate in the next post). I’ve actually signed up to numerous language exchange sites just to heighten my chances of meeting lots of different people, which has proved to be successful and I definitely recommend doing this! Some sites are more popular than others for one reason or another so if you’re not getting any attention in one place then move on to the next.

People will contact you! Now, you’re most likely going to have some people (who cannot speak the languages you’re studying) contact you because they want to learn your native language. Everyone gets this! English is the second most widely spoken language in the world, it’s a business language, everyone knows of it and most people can speak even a little bit of it, so of course I get requests all the time from people I just don’t have anything in common with. As harsh as it sounds, I have to either ignore or reject some request nowadays because in a nutshell – the longer you stay active on a lang exchange, the more people (regardless of what languages they speak) will contact you and keeping up with long paragraphs explaining why you can’t help them is way too much especially if you’re on more than one site. Of course! Helping somebody learn your native tongue who doesn’t speak the languages you’re studying is great! But, sometimes we start to think ‘..it’s called a language exchange for a reason…’  and if you’re not gaining any knowledge for your own studies then it’s not always as rewarding as it could be if they did speak what you want to learn. It depends on the person! I do have foreign friends who are Spanish and Turkish and Greek whom I’ve met on lang exchange sites and I help them with their English from time to time! Luckily, on a lot of sites there’s a option to search for someone who speaks:….. and is learning:… unluckily, a lot of people don’t use the and is learning:… option and just look for people who can speak what they’re studying.

What actually happens? Basically, contact request -> exchange info (Skype ID, facebook etc) -> text chat or talk online or possibly in person if you’re up for it -> help eachother with language and understanding of culture! I hear people worrying about how to actually teach someone a language. A lot of the time me and my Skype friends just talk in English about everything and anything! This is because since most of them are Japanese and they’ve learnt already a considerable amount of English, enough to hold a conversation, they just say to me ‘just talking normally is practice for me’ so we just talk and talk! You might wonder how this helps me with my Japanese or my Korean but I do ask a lot of questions about both language and culture so I like to think I’m okay in that field of understanding! I’m also still studying by myself and since Japanese people learn English in school and I’ve never learnt Japanese in school (only French and German) they can hold a conversation whilst I…can’t. I don’t know enough yet!

What you get out of it? Friendship! Satisfaction out of learning not only a new language and not only helping somebody learn your language, but learning about the culture! What people are really like over there!

So just remember, if you’re lost, there’s only one road and it’s easy! Just do it!

374424_10151623390912669_1398913931_nSo that’s my shiz as I said! It’s terribly long but my next post will be probably on the DO’s and DON’T’s on a lang exchange site. BOOM!

(blimey, need a cuppa after that one)