JLPT BC 69 | Finding a Conversation Partner

Finding Japanese Conversation Partners at the Polyglot ClubStill working hard on Mr.Itoi’s book. I think some essays are a breeze and others are a complete nightmare of difficult vocabulary and abstract language. Progress overall though has definitely started to speed up. I don’t think I’ll be finished by the end of February, but I’ll have a significant amount of reading done.

I’ve also been busying myself with curator duty over at memrise.com. It has really started to be a great clean site with a lot of participation from students of Japanese. We are slowly cleaning up the decks and really making them a great resource. It’s good to see it happen.

I have started on my epic quest to find a conversation partner as well. I spent the whole day emailing and signing up for just about any and every place that would have me.

Part of me feels a little embarrassed that I’m trying to hunt down a conversation partner online, meanwhile my wife is Japanese, but I think it is important to diversify your conversation partners. After all, context is key right? And if I’m only talking to my wife, I’m just practicing how to talk to my wife, not talking to other people. And so, I must embark on my quest…

Options for Finding a Conversation Partner

To be honest, if you are living in Japan, it should be fairly easy to pick up a conversation with folks here. There are several good conversation partner meet ups in any major city, but what if you are busy, and can’t make a meeting? What if you live in the middle of the sticks (or don’t even live in Japan at all) and you can’t find somebody? What is a guy or gal to do?

Well, there are a lot of options, but few good options as far as I can tell. I’ve been wading through a lot of websites with a great interface but no Japanese speakers; sites that had a lot of Japanese speakers, but they all left town a long time ago; and some that make you pay some cash before you can see anything good.

I’ve still been posting to all the sites in the interest of scientific research. I’m really curious as to what site has the most active community on it. I’m sure it is pretty difficult to attract and hold a group of language exchange folks.

What I did so far

So far, I went in and set up a basic profile and made sure I put a picture up. I think this is key in any kind of exchange. Who wants to talk to someone that they can’t see?

I also made sure to put up a bio in English and in Japanese. I think this is probably another critical step because first of all, it’s good to let people know who you are, but also it is important to literally speak the language.

I’m guessing that some conversation partners might be turned off by the fact that my entire profile is in English. Also, I’d kind of like someone that ISN’T good at English to keep me from using that as a crutch.

I also fired off messages to at least two people per site that I signed up for. These were just basic messages that introduced myself. Mostly just a rehash of what I put in my profile bio, nothing too major. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time writing an email and not getting a response.

And now it’s time to just patiently wait for responses. I’ve already gotten a few people that messaged me back that seem interested, but need to do some more follow up and see if I can meet up with a few of them. Hopefully I’ll have more to report next week!

What is Looking Good so Far

So far, the Polyglot Club is looking pretty good. It seems to have a pretty active community and might yield some responses. SharedTalk.com is also looking quite promising. It is a resource created by Rosetta Stone and looks to be pretty well put together. Both of these sites boost about 2000+ Japanese speakers to talk to.

Another site worth an honorable mention is iTalki.com, it is pretty well put together site. It might not have the most active Japanese speakers though.

Anyway, time will tell which one really pans out. I tried a good 10 different sites out, so there is a possibility that a better site than these 3 will surface, but I doubt it. There is pretty big difference between the good and the not so good, if you know what I mean.

Did you Find a Conversation Partner?

Have you made friends online that you chat with now? How was it? Let me know in the comments.

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Music by Kevin MacLeod

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Bob February 29, 2012, 4:10 pm

    I found one through work. I worked with a Japanese woman who’s nanny was also Japanese. She was here for grad school. So we got together. I help her with difficult words but mostly writing. Term papers and resume.

    It is nice going to the Japanese Tea House in Philly and having a native tour guide instead of relying on the little pamphlet they give you.

    • Mac March 4, 2012, 2:01 am

      Yeah, it’s a big confidence booster to go through a tour like that and actually know what is going on. I used to tutor Japanese students in the states. That’s what got my interested in Japan started I think. Great source for conversation partners.

  • Barbara March 10, 2012, 6:48 pm

    I’m going to try the sites you meantion. However, working towards N4 it may be a difficult to find someone who can put up with my pauses and inaccuaracies 🙁

    • Mac March 12, 2012, 4:47 am

      It’s worth a try, also there are a few people that want to practice being Japanese teachers, so they might speak pretty good English.

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