Discussion » Chinese Language & Culture » does a language partner really help?

  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    i've been wondering how one can improve his chinese by talking to someone who wants to improve his english. don't you guys ever fight when you talk since you expect your so-called language partner to speak the language he doesn't care to improve all the time? i don't see how this language partner thing even works. it's totally contradictory and still tons of people are assuming this would work. at least it's not a win-win to me. apparently only one person gets what he wants. any ideas?
  • Minger
    Minger wrote:
    It doesn't work. No one who's got any sensible experience here still wastes any time with language partners, at least in my experience, for the reason you mentioned.
    When I first got here, I was attacked by hordes of people who all wanted to be "language partners". Some wanted to speak only English, some wanted me to take them on dates and then use me to emigrate to the states, but none of them made me want to be around them for more than 15 minutes. They were annoying and didn't have much interest in helping me improve my Chinese (and why should they), and I didn't keep in contact for long.

    At one point though I did meet a nice guy who was willing to help me with what I needed help on and never tried to use English around me except during his allocated English time. Became friends with him.

    I guess the foundation is being honest about what you're looking for.
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    @莫名
    totally agree. i mean if you wanna learn a language you go and take a course. i guess that will be more practical. this whole language partner thing is becoming something else partner.
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    Another generalisation? The fact is that I have heard that it works for some, but in most cases, it does not ...

    For most of those cases that it did not work, you guys have pretty much summed it up, but I will add a few words ... these cases were mostly because someone is thinking about "me me me", and does not fully understand what the word "partnership" means ...

    For the one or two successful cases that I have heard, just like what Ming said, being honest is important, but both parties should need to be fair as well ...

    Simple rule of thumb ... looking for language partner is about "what's in it for me", as well as "what's in it for the other" ...


  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    They end up not only being language partners, but also tend to become more of partners, actually to romance partners.
  • Kodi
    Kodi wrote:
    Xiao, Find a female language partner..... This would be a Chinese female who is not looking for a foreign guy because she is not looking for anything more than to study a language. Chinese girls who pair up with English speaking guys and call them language partners are only kidding themselves. The same goes for guys who try to get Chinese girls to teach them Chinese. I have learned Chinese from girls for a little while only to be told I speak Chinese like a sissy haha! I guess if you do not want to speak Chinese like a bull dike you should learn from a girl or if a guy wants to speak Chinese like a Chinese man then he should learn from a man. The language partner thing can work, but it takes mutual effort to really improve...
  • TOTORO
    TOTORO wrote:
    does friendship between a man and a woman really works?
  • xxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxx wrote:
    It would be difficult to generalize based on one's experience, when i first moved here, i had this language partner, she spoke no English, and I spoke little Chinese but given the fact that we had to communicate, i felt the urge to learn and force myself to speak Chinese, eventually my chinese got better and better, however the relation moved from language partner to something else...
    After her i have had different language partners, but most of them wanted to speak English, and oftentimes i would be speaking in Chinese, and they would be speaking in English, even if my Chinese is way better than their English, its really really annoying, and quite frankly they have improved their language skills more than me.

    What I think is if you want to find a language partner, you better go for the ones that can't speak English or speak little English and if you don't want to fall into the "Romance partner" kinda thing, then you should go for a dude, (or a girl if you gay...lol)
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    @kodi
    that's right but few people actually do it. it seems language partner seekers prefer their partner to be the opposite sex which won't work at all or will work out but not in a 'let's learn some chinese' way.
  • Christopher Handeland
    @xiao
    so which way it would work if it would be like the partner of opposite sex.....lol
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    @runway
    i have no idea =) i have no clue how this whole thing works
  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:
    Cut to the chase and call it a fluid exchange partner.
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    @dando z
    GROSS but makes sense
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    But let us agree that a language partner of the same sakes does not make things move really. Hahahhahaha.
    It sounds very unpleasant for a male to teach a male. There is a certain way you end up attracted to even the voice of the language partner that you end up learning more. To avoid this, i have my Pimsler CDS that have helped me a lot.
  • Yasir A.J
    Yasir A.J wrote:
    it never works!!
    if a lao wai will choose a language partner he will be teaching him english !!
    i even dont like the idea...to practice a language u just talk to everyone..not a partner
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    It's interesting that you white/black foreigners have this problem. As an Asian foreigner, I never have problems finding people who try to force me to speak Chinese. In fact I feel lucky to find someone who will speak English to me. The local people either just don't speak English well enough or are too shy to speak it to me since I am a native English speaker.

    I frequently get requested to stop speaking English and just switch to Chinese. I guess it hurts their pride that I'm a Chinese guy who barely speaks the mother language and they feel like they need to reform me.
  • 哎呀
    哎呀 wrote:
    Jon, if you talked with me in English, I would think "what's wrong with you? You are Chinese! Why not speak your mother tongue? Are you showing off?"

    If you talked with me in Chinese, I would think "what's wrong with you? You are Chinese! How could your mother tongue so poor? Are you retarded?"

    Hahaha!
  • Erik Aleksander Aas
    Jon, either way you're screwed man...hahahahahaha!
  • Simen Wangberg
    Yeah, wow. That sounds like it would profoundly suck, Jon.

    Dunno about this language partner business, never had one but it doesn't really sound that beneficial, language-wise. And I don't think I've ever known anyone that had one that actually taught them much of anything.
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    wow very interesting theory lol. i never thought that way about Chinese-American people. but Jon it seems your language life is miserable lol.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Maria, when I nail you like a $500 Thai Baht hooker in the coffee shop, are you going to be screaming in English or in Chinese? Or is "ahh/啊“ basically the same sound in all languages?
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    But yes, it does suck being a Chinese guy who doesn't speak that much Chinese. My vocab is like 1200 characters. Just barely passable for basic conversation. Chinese people basically do think I am retarded (or showing off when I explain why my Chinese sucks), and when I try to approach girls to hit on them in bars and shit, they do think I'm showing off by speaking English too because my Chinese accent is basically perfect, despite my lack of vocabulary. It's exactly like Maria says.
  • Simen Stensvoll
    Jon ,u can talk to me in chinese

    im native chinese speaker,but my chinese is not good either
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Minimy, how can your Chinese be bad if you are a native speaker? Because you are retarded too like me?
  • Erik Aleksander Aas
    Hahahaha, this is entertaining!
  • Simen Stensvoll
    no,im not retarded as u
    im just not native Mandarin speaker
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    @Jon
    AGAIN you are not being friendly here lol. but it's funny so hang in there.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Of course I am friendly! You are just jealous that I am not directing my drunken outlashes at you!
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    yea right you need a therapyt.
  • Amalie Sæverud
    it really work if your motive is pure :) i'm learning spanish with a mexican girl ! and it's really good !
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Got one already, actually more than one. But you need a language exchange partner to fix the grammar and spelling mistakes in your above sentence a lot more than I need a therapist.........
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    okay, you won.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    "Okay, you win."

    The word won indicates past tense and would be inappropriate in this case, as we are talking about an argument that is occurring in the present.

    And capitalize the first damned letter of every new sentence!

    :P
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    no the argument just ended. and you know what? i dont care. =)
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    You should care. You are an English teacher for Christ's sake! Have some standards

    It's not that hard to capitalize your sentences. Don't be so sinocentric... just because Chinese has no concept of capitalization doesn't mean that you can just ignore it when you are typing in English. It would be like me putting a space in between every Chinese word I type just because that's how we space out Latin-based languages.

    明 白 吗?
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    @Xiao
    When an action has just ended, then we use the perfect tense. " You have won." But all the same, this is a second language and not so many people can explain the depth of the grammar, even some native speakers. So do not mind about that. All second languages SUCK, including English and Chinese if it is a second language to anyone.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    It's quite true. Knowing the grammar and knowing "what sounds right" is a lot different than being able to explain it. That's why I'm not an English teacher.

    But the correct phrase is still "You win," not "You have won." I can't even argue that "You win" is more grammatically correct, but in colloquial English language, that is the proper way to concede an argument to someone.

    "You have won" is what you say to someone when offering them a prize. "Congratulations, you have won this beautiful new car!"
  • №❶ Passioη
    Does a language partner really help?

    First you might wonder why 97% of language partner pairs are comprised of opposite sexes... hmm... if you know what I mean, add this theory to the existing -

    The Great Language Exchange Law of Attraction - (By 1st Passion)

    1. Attractive Guy + Attractive Girl = No language exchange, More Passion Exchange
    2. Unattractive Guy + Attractive Girl = Little Language Exchange, No Passion Exchange
    3. Attractive Guy + Unattractive Girl = More Language Exchange, No Passion Exchange
    4. Unattractive guy + Unattractive Girl = No language Exchange, No Passion Exchange

    Now remember, Language and Passion are also complimentary together.. the emphasized required balance is usually an over-balance which often either leads to something off track or nothing at all. For as long as language companions / partners insist on sight-pleasing compatibilities and time worthy qualities, the theory above will remain unshakable.

    So one may ask, what method works? Answer: join a damn class and be competitive. That's how to improve.

    Happy Dragon Boat Festival!
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    OKAY. tHIS iS mAkING ME SleepY. AND DO NOT remIND me OF tHE fACT that I teAch English. This is the first time I haven't heard anything from my job for 3 days in a row. Can you just cut me some slack for crying out loud><
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    I certainly will not cut you any slack! Who else is going to bitch at you about English mistakes when you are on vacation? And your students certainly aren't going to correct you.

    Hence, I would be a great language exchange partner. I am relentless about fixing English mistakes to the best of my ability. On the other hand, I am not a linguist or even a Liberal Arts student. I'm not a master wordsmith the way some of the boys here are. I will point out all the little nit-picky errors that you make though.

    For instance, you forgot the "?" after your last sentence. But I guess that's a typo and not a blatant error, so we can let that one slide for now. I forgot a period up above too, and I wanted so badly to delete my post and add in the period. But that would make me a crazy person.
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    You are not crazy. You are just grammar obsessed which is very close to crazy.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    And you are now capitalizing your sentences. Very good!

    I'm not that grammar crazy though...

    when i type on MSN or QQ, i pretty much talk to ppl like this with internet shorthand
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    Hahahhahaa, i am learning English here now. Interesting. Mr Gu, "you win" is correct. But i was simply saying that if the action has just ended like she said, then we use the perfect tense, " You have won." I do not know if your teacher told you that you use "You have won." only when getting a prize. Interesting! Get it right that both sentences can do the same piece in this case. Someone can concede defeat using both Mr Gu. Tenses are one hell of a hard thing in English. One can say, "I go to Beijing next month." This would sound wrong. But the simple tense is not only used with things we do everyday. It can also be used with the future. So one would say that he should have said, "I will go to Beijing next month.", which is correct. But the first one is correct too.

    Anyway, you seem to know a lot of grammar than me. You have won.
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)
    ...

    Hahahaha ... COOL, nicely played, losing is the best way to win in some cases ... by the way, how many rice dumplings have you eaten today?
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    hahhahahaa, hardly any. Just getting ready for VUVUZELA time.
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    I went to Liangmahe river for the Dragon Boat race, but did not find any racers. Too bad.
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    There was a Dragon Boat race there? I thought that river was severely polluted and smelly.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Wow, sorry if I was an ass to you Xiao. I have never been this drunk and hungover for this many days in a row before.

    It feels like I should take a drill to my skull to relieve some of the pressure building up in there now.....
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    nah it's no big deal. i was simply trying to have some fun here. but the skull part sounds perfect! =)
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Just because I apologized doesn't mean you should stop capitalizing........ :P
  • Saina
    Saina wrote:
    Never had any language partner even if I've been looking forward to have one since 10 years ago whe n Istarted to study English lol.

    Would be an interesting experience, but I doubt if I have enough patience or teaching skill for it, well if I really need to practice my English I could go straight to 3lt and start flirting with a native speaker or simply grab someone here, it's more fun.

    And I noticed what Minimy said about her accent, I have an interesting example of this: Once when I was having brunch in a cafe there was a girl teaching an American guy oral Chinese, not so sure if they r language partners or private tutor and student, but that girl kept correcting the guy's foreign prouncation into pure Dongbei accent....no offence to Dongbi accent, half of my relatives speak in Dongbei accent when they have to speak in Chinese, but I just find it hilarious spoken by a foreigner with great effort..

    That guy looked as if he was having the time of his life, though, as the girl is stunning pretty, typical Dongbei beauty.

    How do u foreigners think of this issue?
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Regarding accents:

    I always learned to speak with a Beijing accent because my mother is from Beijing.

    But I've discovered as I learn Chinese on my own through textbooks that the Beijing accent is pretty detrimental to my ability to learn proper PinYin. The addition of the R sound to the end of many words makes me realize that I don't know the proper way to Pin a word. For example 门儿 is men'er in proper pinyin and is easy to guess, but 事儿 is shi'er but if I didn't already know that, I would have guessed that you have to write it as she'er.

    Anyways, I have a strong preference for alphabet based languages vs character based languages. Phoenetics just makes more sense to me than characters that you would never know how to pronounce unless someone told you. Then again, written characters unrelated to their pronunciation is what allowed so many different dialects to exist, but in terms of globalization or even nationalization, I think this is a bad thing too.
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    My point is to learn Mandarin but not accent at all. I get impressed when i see people fidgeting to learn accent, even the Chinese themselves when learning English. What use is the accent? The most important thing to me is to learn good vocabulary of a language than accent. If i got a language partner and she started telling me about accent, i would surely kick her ass, that is if she has anyway.
  • Jenelyn Tambago
    I think it does help. But more like a guide, or a sponsor while you study elsewhere or by yourself. Like resolving doubts, sharing daily issues that aren't in books and stuff like that.
  • Simen Stensvoll
    most laowai i saw can speak beijing accent chinese
    i must say they are doing better than me
  • №❶ Passioη
    Dong Bei accent is best heard in two words

    "Ah, tong" (by female) and "Suang" (by male)

    Foreigners don't need to learn anything more
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Dude, you are on a roll today...
  • Saina
    Saina wrote:
    heh, I don't think Laowais should speak Chinese with significant accent.

    It sounds like a slick cheesy old China hand who has had 100 Chinese ex-gfs, at least to me.

    Well it might be my personal taste: I just remembered that I don't like Chinese men speaking with any strong accent either...
  • Minger
    Minger wrote:
    I speak Chinese with a strong American accent... I'm sure someone must find that attractive.
    I've yet to meet this person though.
  • Saina
    Saina wrote:
    Nah...with strong mother tongue accent is slightly better than dialect but still not attractive...

    the typical attractive kind should be speaking clearly and seriously in simple but standard Mandarin with slight influnce of mother togue, pause and frown or blush slightly when thinking of some hard words, best if he has an attractive voice as well.

  • Rebecca Arnesen
    you have remarkably precise tastes Sai Na.
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    @Sai Na
    What is an attractive voice? I have a male friend with a shrink of a voice and he says it is attractive. And for sure, if someone heard you talk to him in a closed room, he or she would think both in there are ladies.
    What is the ideal attractive voice? Deep and hoarse? Small and shrinking? Or just a shrill like a pig being slaughtered?
  • Saina
    Saina wrote:
    fine bass voice?
  • Annie Ann
    Annie Ann wrote:
    language partner will never work, just learn it yourself.
  • Rebecca Arnesen
    "language partners" link people up. It's people meeting people so at the end of the day how can it be bad? Sometimes we need excuses to meet people, if we didn't take these excuses there'd be a shit-ton more lonely miserable bastards in this world. And that would suck cos there already too many.
  • Erik Aleksander Aas
    It would never work. Female Chinese language partners make themselves too available to their foreign counterparts. Shoot me if you want but I've seen it happen a million times over.
  • Amber
    Amber wrote:
    does a language partner really help? ..........i guess so, i mean ,i never had one, i would be a wonderful mandarin partner anyway.............just never get a wonderful english partner ?
  • Mathew Abisai
    Mathew Abisai wrote:
    Language Partners is another version of Friends with Benefits.....U can ask me if u dont know or if u dnt believe me

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