As anyone would tell you when learning a language, whether its Japanese or something else, it is important to not only learn vocabulary and grammar, but to put it into use. I may not be the best person to give advice on this, since I have been lax in this part of learning myself. I get so caught up wanting to memorize everything and learn more that I forget how important it is to actually speak to someone. Now talking to strangers can seem intimidating especially in the beginning, when your just starting to learn, but don’t let that hold you back. When I first started learning Japanese, I didn’t want to talk to anyone because I didn’t think that I knew enough Japanese to have a conversation. Which, looking back now doesn’t make sense. Of course you can’t have a conversation if you never talk to anyone right? And if you never try how will you learn to?
So what if you can’t have a deep philosophical conversation yet, that’s not the point. Whats important about having a language partner is that there is someone to correct your grammar, pronunciation and that your putting what your learning into practice. This is especially important if your a self learner as you do not have the benefit of having a language teacher to converse with and correct your mistakes.
Finding a language partner online is fairly easy, you just have to know where to look. Lang-8 is a great place for writing practice, and an even better place for finding a language partner as there are so many native Japanese speakers who use the site. The site is free and easy to navigate. I would suggest at least writing an introductory post about your self (preferably in Japanese) before looking for a partner so people can see something about you. Remember to be polite and ask people if they would mind chatting with you, before messaging them like crazy. If you are just starting to learn Japanese I would suggest looking for a partner who has a good understanding of English, which is easy to tell just but looking at their English posts. If you made your introductory post in Japanese it will help the person gauge your level of Japanese as well. Also it is important not to ask these people to teach you Japanese, as this is not why they signed up for this site. The next site I’m going to talk about is a much better place for that.
Another great place to find a language partner is a site called Italki, unlike Lang-8 it has Japanese lessons available with native speakers. However these lessons are not free and you need to use Italki credit to pay for your lessons. If you want to try the lessons you can use my link to sign up, it will give you 100 Italki credits which should be about 2 or 3 free lessons depending on the teacher that you chose. Communicating to other members is free and you can find a partner the same way you would on Lang-8, by searching for language partners under the community tab. If you would rather talk to people face to face you can always look for language conversation or culture groups on meetup. I have never been to one myself but there seem to be a lot of events, at least for New York where I’m located.
It really doesn’t matter where you find a partner, as long as you are able to find someone you like to practice with.I found my first few partners just by posting on language forums like Japanesepod101 (which is also free). I also practiced with other students in my classes back when I was taking them. How did you find a language partner? If you know of any other good places to look, please share them in the comments below! Ganbatte!