To achieve an all-round knowledge of a language you should practice the following 4 skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. By having a conversation exchange you are practicing speaking and listening, while with a penpal you are practicing reading and writing.
Writing to penpals
Here are some tips for corresponding with a penpal:
- Write your message half in your native language and half in the language of your penpal
- If you are replying to a message you should also correct the mistakes of your penpal
One important ingredient about learning languages is to have fun. People remember better things they learnt in an amusing way or during a pleasant experience. So it is important to find an exchange partner that has similar interests and sense of humor. A conversation exchange partner could also be an activity partner. You can go to the gym together, to exhibitions, concerts etc. The more environments you're exposed to, the more comprehensive will be the knowledge of your second language. Also, it's much easier to remember a word or expression you've heard in a specific place while you were doing something rather than in conversation.
If you can't find a conversation partner in your area, you can have a conversation exchange via the internet. All you and your partner need is a computer with an internet connection and a microphone. There are many free software applications for this, such as Skype or Windows Messenger. You can use our search feature to find members who are happy to have a conversation using a chat software
Many people are under the misapprehension that if you understand the grammar you automatically have a good command of the language. Nothing could be further from the truth! Grammar is important, but there is much more to a language. If you wish to speak like a native speaker you need to learn as many spoken phrases as possible. Phrases such as: "Bear with me", "What are you on about?", "No accounting for taste" should be part of your vocabulary. Why? Because grammar cannot help you here.