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If you're studying a second language, you may already know just how important conversation time with native speakers is. Even if you don't have native Spanish-speaking friends, you can use online chat rooms for practice.
A quick search for “Spanish/English chat room" will turn up a number of sites you can use to connect with native Spanish speakers (and sometimes other language learners, too). Choose your favorite site and scan through the available users. Odds are good that you'll find a native Spanish speaker who's there to improve his or her English. You trade; s/he helps you with your Spanish, and you offer the same help with English.
Try to find a person who's serious about learning, even if it takes a while. You may encounter people that are just bored and want to chat, or even a few looking for romance--just move on to the next person. Eventually, you'll be able to connect with multiple people that you can meet with (online) to practice your Spanish.
Follow these tips to make the most of your chat time:
- Come into the session with a list of words, phrases and slang that confuse you or that you have trouble using correctly. Ask your new friend what they mean and how to use them correctly, then work them into the following conversation for extra practice. You can even make a game of it, competing to see who can work a given phrase into the conversation most often.
- Pick varied topics to chat about, challenging yourself to master (and comprehend) new words and vocabulary. Take full advantage of this chance to stretch outside your comfort zone.
- Ask your partner to correct you if you type something wrong or phrase something awkwardly.You'll quickly find that most people like to teach others about a subject they're familiar with.
Having a live face-to-face conversation with a native speaker will always be better than communicating in a chat room, but chatting is a good second choice--and if you're lucky, you might even be able to video chat, which comes even closer to a real conversation. You'll get exactly as much out of this activity as you put into it, so keep an open mind and have fun meeting new people from all over the world.
A final word--of caution: Internet predators are everywhere, and someone may think that a Spanish student makes a prime target. Do not give any accurate contact information about yourself, and never agree to a face-to-face meeting.
- Author's experience