Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

General discussion about learning languages
greatSchism
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby greatSchism » Tue Sep 14, 2021 11:33 pm

JonathanOl wrote:My personal experience:
I've tried many language exchange apps too (Tandem, HelloTalk, Speaky, etc.), I think HelloTalk and Tandem are a little bit better compared to other platforms.
HelloTalk - I feel like most people are more "serious language learners" there, so if you're lucky enough you'll be able to find friends there that speak your target language (I made a few friends there that we stayed connected even after I "finished" learning my target language).
Tandem - most people are less "serious language learners", BUT most people there are more active compared to HelloTalk.
So, I would use both of them and try my luck.
But, most people in these platforms are not very active or not serious enough, so just prepare yourself to that and remember that most of the messages you'll be sending will lead to nowhere.
Also, language exchange apps are not something you must do in order to achieve fluency, for example - in French I just couldn't find good partners in these apps, but I still found other methods to achieve speaking fluency, so even if you decide not to use these apps, don't feel too bad about it and keep learning using other methods.


If you are interested in chatting with random people Tandem is the way to go, but it may not be the most productive use of your time. I think there are a lot of lonely people in this world.

The movie/book Fight Club has a quote about "single-serving friends" and I feel the people I meet on Tandem are single-serving friends.

Here is the clip if you have never seen the movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1iQp8g9SQo
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby JonathanOl » Wed Sep 15, 2021 7:17 am

greatSchism wrote:
JonathanOl wrote:My personal experience:
I've tried many language exchange apps too (Tandem, HelloTalk, Speaky, etc.), I think HelloTalk and Tandem are a little bit better compared to other platforms.
HelloTalk - I feel like most people are more "serious language learners" there, so if you're lucky enough you'll be able to find friends there that speak your target language (I made a few friends there that we stayed connected even after I "finished" learning my target language).
Tandem - most people are less "serious language learners", BUT most people there are more active compared to HelloTalk.
So, I would use both of them and try my luck.
But, most people in these platforms are not very active or not serious enough, so just prepare yourself to that and remember that most of the messages you'll be sending will lead to nowhere.
Also, language exchange apps are not something you must do in order to achieve fluency, for example - in French I just couldn't find good partners in these apps, but I still found other methods to achieve speaking fluency, so even if you decide not to use these apps, don't feel too bad about it and keep learning using other methods.


If you are interested in chatting with random people Tandem is the way to go, but it may not be the most productive use of your time. I think there are a lot of lonely people in this world.

The movie/book Fight Club has a quote about "single-serving friends" and I feel the people I meet on Tandem are single-serving friends.

Here is the clip if you have never seen the movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1iQp8g9SQo

Yeah I've seen it, I know what you mean :D
And you're right, that's why I said most people there are "not serious language learners".
But I did find there some really nice people that helped me a lot of languages I learned, so of course it's still possible to get some value from using this platform.
By the way, did you know that there is a Starbucks cup in every scene of Fight Club?
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greatSchism
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby greatSchism » Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:19 pm

JonathanOl wrote:And you're right, that's why I said most people there are "not serious language learners".
But I did find there some really nice people that helped me a lot of languages I learned, so of course it's still possible to get some value from using this platform.
By the way, did you know that there is a Starbucks cup in every scene of Fight Club?


I have met some nice people there as well. When you change your availability to online, you will get about 5-10 messages in 1 hour, and other times 0. When I was online last, 13 people messaged me between 7-8:30 pm on a Tuesday, and out of the bunch, only 1 was fun. We exchanged voice messages back and forth. The rest were boilerplate convos that quickly fizzled. On that particular night, I spent 1.5 hours online, of which only 15-20 minutes were productive. I usually do not have that much time to chat.

JonathanOl wrote:By the way, did you know that there is a Starbucks cup in every scene of Fight Club?


I did not know this, and I will take a look the next time I watch it.
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Cavesa
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby Cavesa » Thu Sep 16, 2021 12:02 pm

greatSchism wrote:I agree that people have a better understanding of the culture if they are fully integrating into the culture, and can speak the language. In the US, "student exchanges", are high school students who normally have studied the language for several years before going to live abroad. They are sent live with a native host family where they only speak the language. "Study abroad programs", on the other hand, are sponsored by universities and the requirements vary greatly with the university. Yes, some programs are merely an extended European vacation. The phenomenon of students living in a "bubble" is entirely natural. In a foreign country, groups of people create their own communities and are bonded by a common language.

I may be wrongly using "study abroad" and "student exchange" terms, but it doesn't change much. The phenomenon of foreign students living in a bubble (a B2ish English bubble in a non anglophone country) may be natural, but it is extremely wrong and goes directly against the very purpose of such opportunities. People should be much more strongly discouraged from this. It is about integration, about getting to know the local culture. If a student doesn't understand such a simple thing, they should stay at home.


2.Yes, because that's how they get a lot of money. They get the failed students from other countries, they teach easier classes in English, affected by the teachers' English skills, treat the English speaking students much kinder than the locals (because they see them as the money source, we were just trash for them), and have lower standards for them (again, to get the money). Being in such a class means you don't get to know anything about the local culture, country, society, or even the real education at the university.


It is 100% about money. This is not a big surprise. "we were just trash for them", what do you mean?


I mean that the same professors treating us like trash, bullying us for absences (so, I had to stand for a few hours in the dissection room, while I still had stitches in my abdomen after operation and a professor shouted at me for sitting down, I had to go to classes with antibiotics because it was impossible to make up for absences, and so on.), humiliating us, forcing us to memorize even outdated stuff and worthless trash that had nothing to do with the subject, while the same professors were treating the foreigners differently. Lower standards at the oral exams, younger and therefore less evil teachers examining the foreigners (there is a strong correlation at my faculty), some teachers even telling people during the exam what to repeat, much kinder behaviour, no humiliation, extra lessons in case of interest. They were treated as valued customers, and most of them didn't really study hard.

That's the kind of double standard I am talking about, and the study abroad students coming for a semester get to see only the privileged spoilt customers, not the real students. Either the study abroad students should learn Czech and study with the real students, or they should stay at home. The result is a destroyed reputation. The study abroad students didn't get to know more than a few Czech students, who were working in the welcoming team, they only get to know the lazy customers. And abroad, they spread "oh, the Czech medicine students have it so easy, don't study much, and don't know much", which harms my reputation too.
..........................

But back to the subject:

greatSchism wrote:
JonathanOl wrote:And you're right, that's why I said most people there are "not serious language learners".
But I did find there some really nice people that helped me a lot of languages I learned, so of course it's still possible to get some value from using this platform.
By the way, did you know that there is a Starbucks cup in every scene of Fight Club?


I have met some nice people there as well. When you change your availability to online, you will get about 5-10 messages in 1 hour, and other times 0. When I was online last, 13 people messaged me between 7-8:30 pm on a Tuesday, and out of the bunch, only 1 was fun. We exchanged voice messages back and forth. The rest were boilerplate convos that quickly fizzled. On that particular night, I spent 1.5 hours online, of which only 15-20 minutes were productive. I usually do not have that much time to chat.


I wonder, have you noticed a significant difference between text messages, voice messages, and direct calls on such platforms?

Are you likely to get better interactions over voice messages than text, for example?

But the 1,5h/20 useful minutes ratio is not too encouraging.
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greatSchism
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby greatSchism » Fri Sep 17, 2021 2:03 am

People should be much more strongly discouraged from this.

It was more than 20 years ago since I "Studied abroad", so I was curious what is going on these days and Googled "international study programs Czech republic." I looked at the first few websites, one is offering:
$1,000 Flight Voucher when you apply with code by September 23, 2021

https://www.ceastudyabroad.com/program/ ... ster-13866
University requirement:
https://ea.psu.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction ... m_ID=14291

I mean that the same professors treating us like trash, bullying us for absences (so, I had to stand for a few hours in the dissection room, while I still had stitches in my abdomen after operation and a professor shouted at me for sitting down, I had to go to classes with antibiotics because it was impossible to make up for absences, and so on.), humiliating us, forcing us to memorize even outdated stuff and worthless trash that had nothing to do with the subject, while the same professors were treating the foreigners differently.


That is a bit harsh, but it also sounds like they have high expectations for you. Is it part of the university culture? Do you think they treated you that way because that is the way they were treated when they were students?

Lower standards at the oral exams, younger and therefore less evil teachers examining the foreigners (there is a strong correlation at my faculty), some teachers even telling people during the exam what to repeat, much kinder behaviour, no humiliation, extra lessons in case of interest. They were treated as valued customers, and most of them didn't really study hard.
That's the kind of double standard I am talking about, and the study abroad students coming for a semester get to see only the privileged spoilt customers, not the real students. Either the study abroad students should learn Czech and study with the real students, or they should stay at home. The result is a destroyed reputation. The study abroad students didn't get to know more than a few Czech students, who were working in the welcoming team, they only get to know the lazy customers. And abroad, they spread "oh, the Czech medicine students have it so easy, don't study much, and don't know much", which harms my reputation too.

Keeping paying students in the school as long as possible is in their direct financial interest. But, in the end, they need a very high percentage of these students to return to the US and pass their exams. Otherwise, people failing their national exam will damage the university's reputation, and people will go someplace else.
..........................



I wonder, have you noticed a significant difference between text messages, voice messages, and direct calls on such platforms?

Are you likely to get better interactions over voice messages than text, for example?


All the interactions started as text messages, and the majority of them stayed that way. But, people who are interested in exchanging voice messages usually send them right away. Direct calls require a bit more planning because of my schedule.

While text messages, voice messages, and direct calls all have their advantages and disadvantages, I find that voice messages seem to work the best for me. I can log on to the app when I have free time and listen to my voice messages. I have one Spanish woman who I exchange messages with few times a week. The messages are usually 5 minutes long. At times, I can not understand her as well as I would like, but I can listen to the messages a few times. She talks very fast, and her accent and colloquial expressions are from Spain. I keep chatting with her because I like her, and the challenge of translating what she says.

Finding people on these apps is like fishing, whereas apps similar Italki is like buying fish from a supermarket. Both have a cost, time and/or money.
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Cavesa
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Sep 17, 2021 9:31 am

greatSchism wrote:That is a bit harsh, but it also sounds like they have high expectations for you. Is it part of the university culture? Do you think they treated you that way because that is the way they were treated when they were students?

Of course it is the "culture", but the thing is, that these narcissic psychopats are capable of behaving more normally, if you pay them. But the local students are unfortunately not allowed to pay. The university is "free", which leads to low quality and this behaviour towards the real students.

Keeping paying students in the school as long as possible is in their direct financial interest. But, in the end, they need a very high percentage of these students to return to the US and pass their exams. Otherwise, people failing their national exam will damage the university's reputation, and people will go someplace else.

They are not americans, they are not "returning to the US" :-D. If they want to pass the exams in a more serious country, they need to study hard anyways because the faculty is very low quality and therefore no help. Don't mistake difficult for high quality. Both the anglophone class and the czech speaking class get low quality education, but the czech quality class still has to work really hard. That's the main difference. People in the Czech speaking class (including foreigners) learn mostly worthless trash, but have to study a lot. People in the anglophone class are just lazy and seeing them just playing or chatting in the study rooms is really painful.

You don't understand the reputation problem. The anglophones pass their exams in the Czech Republic thanks to the lower standards and thanks to getting the younger (=kinder) examiners. Whether or not they pass exams somewhere else has nothing to do with it, and they don't actually need any other exams to go for example to Germany. My Czech exams were hyper hard but had nothing to do with the French national exams, which are actually focused on medicine and useful stuff.

But their overall bad quality is ruining our reputation, as all the temporary study abroad students go home with impression "the students in the Czech Republic don't need to work hard, it is very easy there". I was told in two countries "oh, I studied in Prague for a semester, you should not come here, you simply cannot have the level" :-( How can you explain that there are two totally different levels and that people should judge you by the lazy morons buying a degree in English?


I wonder, have you noticed a significant difference between text messages, voice messages, and direct calls on such platforms?

Are you likely to get better interactions over voice messages than text, for example?


All the interactions started as text messages, and the majority of them stayed that way. But, people who are interested in exchanging voice messages usually send them right away. Direct calls require a bit more planning because of my schedule.

While text messages, voice messages, and direct calls all have their advantages and disadvantages, I find that voice messages seem to work the best for me. I can log on to the app when I have free time and listen to my voice messages. I have one Spanish woman who I exchange messages with few times a week. The messages are usually 5 minutes long. At times, I can not understand her as well as I would like, but I can listen to the messages a few times. She talks very fast, and her accent and colloquial expressions are from Spain. I keep chatting with her because I like her, and the challenge of translating what she says.

Finding people on these apps is like fishing, whereas apps similar Italki is like buying fish from a supermarket. Both have a cost, time and/or money.


That's an interesting way to do it. If you get through all the other problems (such as some of us simply being unlikely to find a language match), the voice messages are a very nice alternative that I haven't considered much. It removes at least the time zone or schedule compatibility problem. It is not entirely like a normal conversation, but close enough.
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greatSchism
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby greatSchism » Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:39 am

Cavesa wrote:
You don't understand the reputation problem. The anglophones pass their exams in the Czech Republic thanks to the lower standards and thanks to getting the younger (=kinder) examiners. Whether or not they pass exams somewhere else has nothing to do with it, and they don't actually need any other exams to go for example to Germany. My Czech exams were hyper hard but had nothing to do with the French national exams, which are actually focused on medicine and useful stuff.

But their overall bad quality is ruining our reputation, as all the temporary study abroad students go home with impression "the students in the Czech Republic don't need to work hard, it is very easy there". I was told in two countries "oh, I studied in Prague for a semester, you should not come here, you simply cannot have the level" :-( How can you explain that there are two totally different levels and that people should judge you by the lazy morons buying a degree in English?


I understand where you're coming from with this in terms of having pride in your university and your country. You know it all has to do with money and as long as it's mutually beneficial, they will continue these programs as long as possible. Are you working in France as a doctor now? How was the exam? What is the most common country of origin for students?


Cavesa wrote:
That's an interesting way to do it. If you get through all the other problems (such as some of us simply being unlikely to find a language match), the voice messages are a very nice alternative that I haven't considered much. It removes at least the time zone or schedule compatibility problem. It is not entirely like a normal conversation, but close enough.


"All the other problems" are what can sometimes be discouraging because you're trying to use what limited free time you have, and you want to get the most out of it.

While it is not perfect or like a normal conversation, it still requires some effort to translate the audio and then prepare what you're going to say in advance. You lose having to respond in real-time, but you can practice in other ways. After I record a voice message, I listen to it to ensure that I like how I sound in terms of my pronunciation and correctness. I usually end up doing a few takes.
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Cavesa
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby Cavesa » Sat Sep 18, 2021 9:50 am

greatSchism wrote:I understand where you're coming from with this in terms of having pride in your university and your country. You know it all has to do with money and as long as it's mutually beneficial, they will continue these programs as long as possible. Are you working in France as a doctor now? How was the exam? What is the most common country of origin for students?

Yes, it has all to do with money. People studying the real degree are not allowed to pay (but it doesn't change the fact that the poor cannot study anyways, because there are no student loans even for the lower costs), while the lazy failures from other countries get every luxury including kindness. And they sometimes even complain online how the Czech students aren't trying hard to make friends with them. They are really oblivious. Many of us would have preffered to get a loan and pay, to get a better quality, and not to be treated like trash. Nope, instead we get to be humiliated forever with "you studied for free, so shut up and be our slaves".

I was a doctor in France but got only the choice of very bad specialties. Now I am trying another country. The exam was horrible, my Czech medicine studies had been near worthless for it and I had had too little time aside to prepare for the french exam (and not sufficient means either, due to geoblocking), and so I got to "choose" only from trash specialties for trash candidates low on the list. I accepted for a year, but it simply didn't work for me, I didn't grow to like that specialty. I was not bad at all (patients, colleagues, even the boss was content with my work), I could have completed the education, I can learn all that is needed. I was especially good at everything not related to that specialty. But I regretted every day, I hated myself everyday, I was ashamed of being in that specialty every day, and so on. But it was simply too unfair to prepare on an extremely hard but extremely useless faculty for an extremely hard and very different exam, competing against people with every advantage. Like 95% of the foreign candidates end in the last quarter of the list.

What are the most common countries of origin? There are two main categories:
1.people from better countries, who failed at home. Spain, Portugal, not the French (those go to Romania), extremely rarely someone from an anglophone country
-Not saying all the application systems are just, some of the candidates could have been good and just not jumped through unreasonable hoops for various reasons. But still, they had been the worst back at home and went for the easier degree.
2.people from worse countries, who are motivated, but cannot afford the real anglophone countries or cannot get in the better qualities in those countries. (various countries of Middle East, but also other regions)
-Usually more motivated, but not prevalent. The better candidates among them usually go either to the better countries, or they learn Czech and study with the real students.

And there are a few exceptions that are Czech. I had had a rather stupid classmate in highschool. A kind and pretty girl, who could have succeeded at something else, but she simply didn't have the sort of talent needed for a demanding degree in spite of her parents' ambitions. She failed to get to any real medical degree in Czech. She got accepted without any problem to the foreign class, and she got at least to the second year.


Cavesa wrote:That's an interesting way to do it. If you get through all the other problems (such as some of us simply being unlikely to find a language match), the voice messages are a very nice alternative that I haven't considered much. It removes at least the time zone or schedule compatibility problem. It is not entirely like a normal conversation, but close enough.


"All the other problems" are what can sometimes be discouraging because you're trying to use what limited free time you have, and you want to get the most out of it.

While it is not perfect or like a normal conversation, it still requires some effort to translate the audio and then prepare what you're going to say in advance. You lose having to respond in real-time, but you can practice in other ways. After I record a voice message, I listen to it to ensure that I like how I sound in terms of my pronunciation and correctness. I usually end up doing a few takes.


Well, if I went for the voice messages, I would probably do very little preparation and try to sort of simulate the real-time situation. But what you describe makes a lot of sense! It might actually be perfect for some types of conversations.

I wonder whether job interviews should be practiced like this, with recording myself and trying various takes on the usual questions. :-D
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greatSchism
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby greatSchism » Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:26 pm

Many of us would have preffered to get a loan and pay, to get a better quality, and not to be treated like trash. Nope, instead we get to be humiliated forever with "you studied for free, so shut up and be our slaves".


Do they treat it as some sort of civil service? Do you have to serve in the military prior to going to University?

I was a doctor in France but got only the choice of very bad specialties.
Now I am trying another country. The exam was horrible, my Czech medicine studies had been near worthless for it and I had had too little time aside to prepare for the french exam (and not sufficient means either, due to geoblocking), and so I got to "choose" only from trash specialties for trash candidates low on the list. I accepted for a year, but it simply didn't work for me, I didn't grow to like that specialty. I was not bad at all (patients, colleagues, even the boss was content with my work), I could have completed the education, I can learn all that is needed. I was especially good at everything not related to that specialty. But I regretted every day, I hated myself everyday, I was ashamed of being in that specialty every day, and so on. But it was simply too unfair to prepare on an extremely hard but extremely useless faculty for an extremely hard and very different exam, competing against people with every advantage. Like 95% of the foreign candidates end in the last quarter of the list.

What are the most common countries of origin? There are two main categories:
1.people from better countries, who failed at home. Spain, Portugal, not the French (those go to Romania), extremely rarely someone from an anglophone country
-Not saying all the application systems are just, some of the candidates could have been good and just not jumped through unreasonable hoops for various reasons. But still, they had been the worst back at home and went for the easier degree.
2.people from worse countries, who are motivated, but cannot afford the real anglophone countries or cannot get in the better qualities in those countries. (various countries of Middle East, but also other regions)
-Usually more motivated, but not prevalent. The better candidates among them usually go either to the better countries, or they learn Czech and study with the real students.

And there are a few exceptions that are Czech. I had had a rather stupid classmate in highschool. A kind and pretty girl, who could have succeeded at something else, but she simply didn't have the sort of talent needed for a demanding degree in spite of her parents' ambitions. She failed to get to any real medical degree in Czech. She got accepted without any problem to the foreign class, and she got at least to the second year.


Which countries are you looking to continue your studies in? What specialty are you looking for? I would imagine that in any competitive specialty students in that country will be selected first based on merit or politics. You can go into research.

Well, if I went for the voice messages, I would probably do very little preparation and try to sort of simulate the real-time situation. But what you describe makes a lot of sense! It might actually be perfect for some types of conversations.


I will treat it as a real-time conversation if the message that I'm receiving a short, less than 1-2 minutes, or if it is a topic that I feel comfortable with. But, with longer messages, I cannot always simultaneously remember all the details of the conversation while focusing on the real-time audio. I usually take notes.


I wonder whether job interviews should be practiced like this, with recording myself and trying various takes on the usual questions. :-D


I've never thought about doing this with the job interview either, although I think that it could be beneficial to see yourself as to how someone else might see you. Because we have a perception of ourselves, which may or may not align with reality.
Last edited by greatSchism on Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Cavesa
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Re: Are "language exchange" apps worth the effort?

Postby Cavesa » Sun Sep 19, 2021 5:07 pm

i think we have gone too far away from the initial topic.
greatSchism wrote:
Many of us would have preffered to get a loan and pay, to get a better quality, and not to be treated like trash. Nope, instead we get to be humiliated forever with "you studied for free, so shut up and be our slaves".

Do they treat it as some sort of civil service? Do you have to serve in the military prior to going to University?

Work in our hospitals is slavery for the young doctors. A system based on lots of frauds, horrible work conditions, and a lot of suffering with very little money. I refuse to enter a system, where I'll be a possible subject to blackmailing all the time and finish specialization in ten years just because of bureaucracy. I wouldn't work in this system even for a swiss salary, truth be told.

Which countries are you looking to continue your studies in? What specialty are you looking for? I would imagine that in any competitive specialty students in that country will be selected first based on merit or politics. You can I was going to research.


I want a specialisation in western Europe, preferably francophone, as I really dislike Germany. And many countries like Spain are impossible. I have two or three specialties I like, the rest is simply not interesting enough to me to be worth it. It is not my fault that I was born to a country that doesn't deserve or value me, so I will do all I can to get to a better one, except for settling for a specialty I'd hate every day for the rest of my life.

With that, I would like to end this branch of the discussion, that we shouldn't have even gotten that far into. I apologize to everybody else.

Well, if I went for the voice messages, I would probably do very little preparation and try to sort of simulate the real-time situation. But what you describe makes a lot of sense! It might actually be perfect for some types of conversations.


I will treat it as a real-time conversation if the message that I'm receiving a short, less than 1-2 minutes, or if it is a topic that I feel comfortable with. But, with longer messages, I cannot always simultaneously remember all the details of the conversation while focusing on the real-time audio. I usually take notes.


With how many exchange partners do you talk like this? It looks like you've managed to create a very solid learning relationship with these people, as sending voice messages repeatedly clearly requires more work than just a superficial chat. How did you achieve that?

I wonder whether job interviews should be practiced like this, with recording myself and trying various takes on the usual questions. :-D


I've never thought about doing this with the job interview either, although I think that it could be beneficial to see yourself as to how someone else might see you. Because we have a perception of ourselves, which may or may not align with reality.


I plan to use this technique, thanks for bringing me to this idea!
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