The Language Exchange
The Language Center hosts the Language Exchange, available to any GW student, staff or faculty learning a language. The Language Exchange is designed for those who wish to practice a foreign language with other members of the GW community.
A language exchange involves two speakers of different languages who practice these languages together. For example, a student who is fluent in Spanish may want to practice her English. She will then be paired with someone who is fluent in English but who also wants to practice Spanish. In this way, both students learn from and assist one another. Partners have the independence to structure their meetings according to their needs.
How to Sign Up
To apply for a language exchange partner, complete the online Participant Registration Form. Students requesting any language are encouraged to apply. However, students most commonly request language partners for Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.
Once you have submitted your application, you will be contacted when a partner who meets your needs is found. Some applicants requesting less common languages may be placed on a waitlist if a partner in that language cannot immediately be found. Students will be matched on a first-come, first-served basis. Your registration is only valid for one semester.
If you have not been matched, you must reapply at the beginning of every semester. This is done to clear our database of any participants who have left the GW community (graduated, study abroad, sabbatical) or are too busy in the new semester. After being paired with a partner, participants must complete a participant agreement and contact their partner to arrange a meeting time.
Not only does the Language Exchange allow students to improve their language skills, it also allows them to gain civic engagement hours! If students log 100 service hours in one year, they will earn the President's Volunteer Service Award and be eligible for a silver service commencement cord.
Tips for Having a Successful Exchange Experience
- Make your language exchange goals as concrete as possible. For example:
- I want to pass the next quiz in Chinese.
- I will review verb forms in Spanish.
- I want to write a paper with fewer grammar errors in French.
- I want to practice informal conversation in English.
- Set realistic expectations about what you can accomplish. Spend equal time on each partner's language needs.
- Be respectful of your partner.
- Consider cultural differences and recognize that this is an opportunity to learn about different cultural perspectives while developing your language skills.
- Be considerate: Contact your partner ahead of time if you cannot make a meeting.