Have Language Exchanges with People on Skype or Mixi
You thought it would be a great idea to do a language exchange, either in person, or on Skype with a Japanese person. You get to practice your Japanese, they get to practice their English. Win-Win!
If you have ever done a language exchange, you will know that it is Lose-Win. And you probably know which one you are. If you are doing a language exchange, the Japanese person probably has better English than you do Japanese. This means an English dominated conversation. This means you getting frustrated, getting tired, and switching to English to save face. This means your language exchange has turned into an English lesson for the other person.
So what do you do? Don’t do language exchanges. Ever. Very Simple.
So what do you do instead? You find lonely Japanese people who just want a person to talk to, and have no interest in learning English.
Now considering you probably don’t have lonely Japanese people just wandering your street, you do have access to Mixi. Mixi is the Japanese equivalent of Facebook . . . sort of. You do need to register with a Japanese cell phone e-mail address, so you may need help from a Japanese friend to get started if you don’t live in Japan.
On mixi, there are all kinds of “Skype communities”, where thousands of people make posts on forums on how they are looking for someone to talk with. They don’t care about English, they just care about having someone to talk to. And that’s where you come in. Even if your Japanese level is still low, they will be more than excited to talk to you. And if it doesn’t work out in the end, you can try someone else the following day.
Have fun. And be nice! You will probably meet some really interesting people.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
haha, I was thinking about doing a language exchange very soon. But that’s good advice. Instead of seeking out language learning/exchange. Just seek out Japanese people who just want to be friends(I.e. just hang out with them but they talk/you talk in Japanese all day long). I hear for this to work, either your Japanese or there English (which everyone is higher, takes over)
But if they speak no English, then regardless of your level, you will be speaking in Japanese.
haha. Hmm, guess I should look for that(better for me, more Japanese immersion).
P.S. got any tips in improving speaking skills? I’m definitely good with kanji/reading/listening. A lot of people say, you just need to keep going and you’ll eventually get good speaking skills.
Reading out loud always worked really well for me. If you haven’t already, check out this post I wrote for more info on it.
you can also register for mixi using a university email address if you don’t have a japanese cell phone, and that includes american universities (i used my osu.edu address)
I definitely didn’t know that. Very useful to know!
Problems with language exchange from my ongoing attempts.
1: It’s student teaching student.
2: As posted above the Japanese have had a great state education regarding English so most likely their English will over shadow your Japanese.
3: Unlike a class room there’s no set learning plan meaning both parties have no clear point to start from. (Explaining a complex learning plan to Japanese people can be difficult.)
4: Many Japanese Skype contacts are to shy or embarrassed to talk freely or just don’t know what to say.
5: Forcing yourself into a conversation is not a good why to have a one. (Although you may find people you find interesting.)
The best contacts I have simply wind up being a checker for information on websites. Just find a website with Japanese you want to learn and say “Check this for me”. They also can be great helping with pronunciation.
So just like Rosetta Stone language exchange is just one small part of your learning experience not a magic solution.
Can you explain a little bit on how to navigate through mixi to find these people?
Good question, and I think worthwhile enough to make a full post about. So I’ll try to get to that soon.
I totally think I’m ready to start skyping with some strangers. haha. Get that ‘force factor’ working. I’m looking forward to that post! ^^
Hopefully this is helpful!
i am portuguese and i would like very much too comunicate with a japanese lady for the purpose of learning japanese languaje and culture i am a retired man and i will like the possibility to learn about your traditions.Sincerely with all my apreciation and kindness .
Also, hanging out with multiple Japanese people at once (instead of just 1 on 1) makes it awkward for the Japanese people to use English, so they will almost always revert to Japanese instead.
I can see your point but I disagree, I think it very much depends on the person.. I have been learning Japanese for about 4 months and doing language exchange has probably taught me more than the college course I’m doing.. but it does depend on the indivisual..
Since it’s impossible to register on Mixi without a 携帯, do you have any other suggestions for good finding-lonely-Japanese-people websites or other social media extravaganzas?
I’m assuming that the .edu no longer works either?
Facebook has actually been taking over Mixi lately, which is great for Japanese learners. Japanese users of Facebook used to only be the ones who were good at English, or had a desire to learn English. But this is completely different now. I haven’t figured out the best strategy yet to meet Japanese who aren’t interested in English and becoming friends with them just yet, but after doing some trial and error, I’ll see what I can come up with.
Unless anyone here has used Facebook successfully as a replacement for Mixi and can talk a little about it?
Also, the recent live feed sites may be a good place to meet with people. Like Twitcast or FC2 live, since you watch videos and comment together in a chat room type setting.
Even if you have an .edu address, they still require you to have a Japanese phone number so it won’t work any more. Thanks for the reply. The problem with Facebook is that it’s not geared toward finding new friends. That would be great if you could figure a way to wrangle up the Japanese population of Facebook. Facebook doesn’t have forums where you could find Skype communities, but it does have groups that are similar, so that might be something I could explore. I wouldn’t know where to start, of course.
I will take a look at the live feed sites you mentioned I actually have no idea what a live feed site is though, so I suppose I will find out, lol.
Check out this site reviewed here on Jalup for an example: http://japaneselevelup.com/2012/03/06/real-japanese-in-real-time-plus-a-little-lag/
As for Facebook do some trial and error. Go to groups where Japanese people are members. Ignore the standard rules of etiquette (friend requesting people you don’t know). You are learning Japanese so break the rules. Send out friend requests with a message attached in Japanese. You’d be surprised on how much Japanese people will react positively to this.
And after going through all this, it would be a perfect topic to write about on Jalup sharing your experience and observations!
I know you don’t like language exchanges, but if you find a language partner and arrange to not use any English during Japanese sessions (even at the expense of comprehension at times), would it still be unprofitable? I wouldn’t mind helping people with their English in exchange for some good practice.
If you (and they) will be very strict and stick with 100% Japanese during the Japanese session, it’s not so bad. Just be careful because its not as easy as it sounds and it can be awkward to have to remind them of this rule. Also if you ever become friends with the person and mere exchange turns into just hanging out and doing things together, it becomes even more complex.
I tried signing up with my UK university email address and it worked! :)
Great to hear! I wonder if .edu university addresses are working again.
I was able to register using my .edu email address without a Japanese cell phone number just now. After registration, I was also able to change my email address to a non-.edu email address, useful if you lose access to the .edu address (e.g. graduation).
It’s good to know .edu works again. It’s a shame that mixi has still decided to ignore how the rest of social networking sites work (and should work) and restrict access to those living in Japan (or those with an .edu account).
I am posting this for the people that posted about mixi not working with a .edu email. I made my account last night using my .edu email and it worked perfectly fine. it didn’t ask for a japanese phone number. i was also able to log into the 3 mobile apps they have for mixi with no problem.