Where To Find Native Speakers To Practice English Conversation

Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by Estrella

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

You might be wondering where to find native speakers to practice English conversation if you are studying ESL by yourself. Or perhaps you are taking an ESL class in a college, but do not have much opportunity to use English in daily conversation. This article offers a few ideas on where you can find conversational partners.

Finding native speakers to practice English

Perhaps the reason you want to practice English in conversation is to simply improve your spoken English. Or maybe you want to meet more friends in your new cultural home. One of the best ways to find native English speakers is through meetup groups.

Find a meetup group of your interest

There are all kinds of interest groups on Meetup.com. Photography, hiking, learn to cook, train for a marathon, build a mobile app, practice a language, just to name a few. Since you’ll be doing something you are interested in, you’ll be relaxed and not worried about grammatical correctness as much. When you are NOT thinking about how to construct a sentence, you actually flow more easily in a conversation. And when ideas go back and forth between you and another person, that’s called fluency–being fluid in communication.

Let’s say you are in a group that has to do with food. It is so easy to have a conversation over food. In fact, one of my clients joined a meetup group that meets in different restaurants. For half the time, Americans practice speaking Japanese. Then they switch, and the Japanese practice speaking English.

Conversation Exchange

Many students are learning foreign language in universities. Maybe they major in business and want to eventually do business in another country. To become fluent in that language, they look for native speakers to practice conversation. If you happen to speak the language an American student wants to improve, you can arrange a trade.

In this kind of trade, you often learn more about each other’s culture and customs. This will work to both of your advantage. And if you stay in touch, there might even be future opportunities to collaborate on projects, or connect each other to work opportunities.

One of my friends joined DECA since he was in high school. It is a well-established group to train entrepreneurial-minded students to learn about marketing. They participate in competitions–local, national, international. My friend met so many international students through DECA that by the time he turned 20, he had already been to 6 continents because those friends invited him to visit them. He would stay at their home, get the best personal tour in the city. Although this is not exactly a language trade, (and a little off topic) staying in touch with his international friends eventually led him to move to another country and work there. All because of connections he maintained. You can do the same with these connections you make through conversation trade. Who knows, you might end up helping each other in the future with work opportunities.

Some place to find these conversation trade is through bulletin boards in universities near student centers, cafeteria, dormitory lobbies, HUB, for example.

There are also online sites to find such trades. Google “conversation exchange” and explore the options. Check the reputation of the site by looking for reviews. I don’t know anyone personally who participated in this, so I do not have any recommendation.

Host a tea party

If you are working in an office with American co-workers, consider inviting a few that you like to your home for tea. Or host a potluck event, where everyone brings a dish, so you don’t have to cook for a lot of people. And if you like to watch football games, invite your co-workers over. Have some potato chips and beverage, maybe order a large pizza, and that’s it. Chat before and after the game, and during commercials. It’s natural conversation, and the best way to immerse yourself in natural English.

Potluck lunch or tea time offers a longer time for leisurely conversation. Besides practicing your English, it is an opportunity to know your co-workers better. Time spent outside of the office often adds to the work relationship. Who knows, you might even hear about upcoming job openings that you are interested in.

To summarize, meeting people who share your interests, finding conversation exchange with a native English speaker, hosting a tea party or a potluck dinner are some ways to practice conversation with native English speakers. Explore which one fits your personality the most, and do more of that.

If you find this article helpful, here is another one on How to make friends in the workplace for immigrants.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email estrellachan@gmail.com

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