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.
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