When learning a language, there comes a time when online courses, group lessons, and vocab trainers simply don’t cut it anymore. You’re ready to improve your speaking skills but are struggling to achieve that with your current learning stack. At this point, many language learners turn to Skype for language exchange.
If you’re one of these people, listen up to our advice on using Skype for language exchange, as well as some helpful alternatives if you’d like to try something different.
Skype is a communication tool that allows you to chat with people using instant messaging, video, and audio calls. As well as enabling family and friends to keep in touch, Skype is also a tool used for language exchange and chatting with pen pals.
The best way to reach fluency in a language is to practice with someone whose native language is the same as your target language. This is called a language exchange or a tandem. So when you can’t have a face-to-face tandem with someone, having a call with a native speaker on Skype can be a great alternative. You can learn idioms, foreign slang and work on your accent or pronunciation. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with someone from a different culture and to share stories of what it’s like to live in your country.
Although Skype wasn’t created solely for learning languages, it can still be used as a language learning tool. Let’s take a look at some of the pros of using Skype for language exchange.
Skype has a massive community - Since millions of people from around the world have a Skype account, it’s a very accessible tool to use for learning a language. And if your language exchange partner doesn’t have an account, it’s really easy for them to sign up.
You can have group chats - Skype now allows you to have group chats with up to 50 people. This is ideal should you want to run a language exchange session with your friends.
You can record Skype calls - If you want to review your Skype language exchange and go over what you learned with your partner, you can simply record your call and listen back to it.
It’s free - Providing you have an internet connection, Skype is totally free to use. That’s a big plus for those already investing money into private language courses.
It's true that Skype can be a great tool to practice new languages, but there are also some cons to using it for this purpose. Be careful of the following!
It’s extremely hard to find a conversation exchange partner on Skype - In order to get in touch with someone on Skype, you need their Skype name, email address or phone number. This means you have to connect with them on a different platform first and then switch to Skype.
Not every language exchange partner wants to have a video or audio call - Having a conversation exchange with a stranger can be a little daunting, especially if you’re used to face-to-face meetings. If you’re not quite ready for a video chat, Skype is no different from any other messaging tool out there.
It's missing language learning features - Granted, Skype does have both text and voice translation features, but these are limited to certain languages. Other than that, Skype lacks features specifically designed to help its users learn languages.
Your language learning journey will require some helpful tools and resources to gain fluency. That is why Tandem is here to help! With the Tandem app, we connect language learners to native speakers to help them speak any language, anywhere.
As with every communication and messaging tool, you should keep the rules of internet safety in mind when having a Skype language exchange. Skype is a safe place for language exchange, you just need to be mindful that not everyone is who they say they are.
If you are contacted by someone acting suspiciously, you can easily block them on Skype. Once you block them, you are also asked if you want to report the blocked user to Skype.
As Skype isn’t a dedicated language learning community, you can’t actually find a language exchange partner on Skype. But not to worry, whether you’re looking for a language exchange partner, or just want some advice on how to learn a language, we’ve put together a list of our favorite platforms below.
Language Learning Apps & Websites
Tandem mobile app and website: Of course, we’re going to blow our own trumpet here! Tandem is a free language exchange app where you can connect with millions of native speakers and learn 200+ languages. Once you’re done with vocab trainers, Tandem is the perfect next step to put what you’ve learned into practice. Get to grips with the lingo by messaging, learn from your mistakes with the handy correction feature, and improve your local accent with audio and video calls. It’s never been easier to speak a foreign language fluently.
Chatterbug: With adaptive courses, a personalized curriculum, and video sessions with native-speaking tutors, Chatterbug is a great alternative to a Skype language exchange. If you’re not a complete beginner, you can also take a placement test to skip ahead to your current level. Tracking your progress is also super easy on their platform.
Duolingo: If you’re reading this post and have realized you’re not quite ready to have a language exchange, you might want to check out Duolingo. It’s probably the most well-known language learning app and gets you started with basic vocab and grammar exercises in your target language. It’s very interactive and incorporates various elements of gamification into the app. So don’t be surprised if you’re rushing to complete your daily lesson so as not to lose your streak!
Babbel: Much like Duolingo, using Babbel is a great way to prepare yourself for the world of language exchange. Babbel is a subscription-based app with 10 - 15-minute lessons that are crafted by language experts and aim to work on your conversational skills.
All in all, having a Skype language exchange can definitely be beneficial if you’re just looking to have a conversation with a native speaker. For those needing a bit more guidance, or some language learning tools, you might be better sticking with one of the alternatives we suggested.
Once you’ve decided which platform you’d like to use for your next language exchange, get prepared and have a read of our guide to language exchange etiquette! We wish you the best of luck with your future language exchanges!