About the program
The Department of World Languages and Cultures Language Exchange Partners Program is a free program organized by the Language Studies Resource Center to connect students who wish to practice and improve their foreign language speaking skills.
Language exchange partners have the opportunity to make new friends, benefit from each other’s knowledge, expand their skills, and are better able to engage the world around them. The program is free and open to all students registered at Iowa State University.
New cohorts start about one month into Fall and Spring semester, so applicants should make sure to apply within the first couple of weeks of a semester. If you already have a language exchange partner from a precious semester, you do not need to apply again, unless you want to switch partner.
Participants have the opportunity to:
- Improve world language conversation skills
- Practice everyday terms and phrases in a world language
- Build social networks through friendly interactions
- Gain additional language preparation for study/internship abroad or other overseas travel
The quality of your experience depends on the reciprocal participation of each student. We strive to match students who are interested in practicing another language with a native speaker of that langauge. If this is not possible, non-native student learners are matched together. The goal is to improve speaking, listening, and communication skills through regular practice with a another speaker of the language being learned. To get started, WLC students should fill out this WLC Student Application Form while native speakers/international students should fill out this Native Speaker Application Form. Once we have reviewed participant information, we will send all participants information about their language exchange partners.
It is the responsibility of each language exchange partner pair to determine when to meet. We recommend meeting once a week for at least one hour. Students should have some prior training in the language they want to practice and should be able to carry a basic conversation. You should not be expecting to learn a language for the first time with your language exchange partner. This program is recommended for language students with at least intermediate proficiency in the language (2nd year) and is limited to students currently enrolled in at least one class at Iowa State University.
We hope to be able to find a match for every person who requests a language exchange partner but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to find you a match.
Please note: We recommend that all language partner exchange meetings take place on Iowa State University’s campus in the Language Studies Resource Center, 3142 Pearson Hall. This is to ensure both safety and convenience. While the LSRC facilitates the Language Partner Exchange Program, each meeting is the responsibility of the individual participants.
Q: How does the program work?
The language partner exchange program is a free program that connects students through language exchange. The success of the program depends entirely on participants and each person’s enthusiasm to learn a language. Students are matched up based on the language they want to practice and/or language that they are willing to share. Each student pair is encouraged to meet once a week for at least one hour to practice their conversation skills.
Q: How do I sign up?
Interested participants should fill out this information form. NOTE that sign-up is only processed during the first three weeks of Spring and Fall semesters, after which partners are assigned.
Q: Will I be matched with a native speaker?
We try to advertise for interested native speakers but we cannot guarantee that your language exchange partner will be a native speaker of the language you want to practice. You may instead be paired with another language learner at the same level as your own unless you have noted on the information form that you are willing to meet with someone at a language proficiency level lower than your own.
Q: What if I am a native speaker of a non-English language and would like to practice my English?
You can participate in the Language Partner Exchange program if you speak a language that a World Languages and Cultures student is looking to practice. If we are able to pair you up with someone who want to practice a language you speak, we encourage you and your partner to also practice English, so that you may benefit from that. Native speakers of non-English languages may sign up using this form.
Q: What if I don’t speak any of the languages taught in the World Languages Department? Can I still participate?
If you don’t speak a language that any student in World Languages needs to practice, you can still apply, but you should know there is only a small chance for you to be paired up with anyone.
Q: Can you guarantee I’ll get a partner for the language I want to practice? Can I be matched with someone of a particular gender, age, etc.?
We do our best to accommodate everyone’s preferences—however, we can’t guarantee that there is someone among the interested native speakers or another WLC student in the program who is the perfect match. There is a chance in any given semester that another speaker of your target language may not be available.
Q: I filled out the information form however I have not received any information about my partner. What happens next?
We are a small team working to match several students in all of the languages we offer. We will send out information as soon as we have matched up all students for the semester. Information about pairings are typically sent out during the third week of the Spring and Fall semesters. Thank you for your patience!
Q: How do we get to know each other to start with?
The LSRC usually arranges an initial meeting where all partners can meet up and socialize. For that reason, we strongly encourage you to find time to attend this event. At the event, we will arrange for some activities to help you get to know each other and encourage you to agree on a weekly meeting schedule before you leave the event.
Q: What if my partner doesn’t return my emails or is too busy to meet me?
Please allow at least 48 hours for your partner to respond. Since all participants are busy Iowa State students, pairs/groups may not always be able to make their schedules work. If your partner decides to leave the program or is unresponsive for an extended period of time, please let us know and we will work to find you a different partner.
Q: How often should I be meeting with my partner(s)?
Ideally, participants should meet for a minimum of one hour per week.
If you meet with a native speaker of the language you are learning, please try to keep a balance between speaking in English and the language of your exchange partner. We want both partners to be able to gain linguistic, cultural and social skills from the meetings.
Q: What should my partner and I talk about?
Partners are free to have an open conversation about any topic they chose. However, a list of suggested topics is available in the Language Studies Resource Center (LSRC), 3142 Pearson Hall and online on our website.
Fill out this form to participate in the language partner exchange partners program. NOTE that applications are only processed between the first day of classes and the last day of the second week of Spring and Fall semesters, after which partners are assigned for the semester. If you submit an application outside of these times, we will only be able to process it next time we process applications.