"Interaction, - conversing with people of different cultures, different places, because you are forced to speak it, you have no choice! - that's the best way."
That's how Kainaaz, a film producer and Chatterbox conversation partner for Persian, describes how she picked up the six languages she speaks. And it's true.
However, it this is not always accessible. Acquiring fluency is becoming increasingly expensive, and travel abroad isn't always an option.
So how can you make the most of this unique chance to have authentic language practice with a Chatterbox conversation partner? Here are a few things to bear in mind:
A conversation session is not the same as tutoring. We don't expect Chatterbox conversation partners to plan, teach, or carry out any work outside of the hour booked.
Prepare for your conversation class in advance. It's up to you to curate the hour. Have a plan about what you would like to talk about, perhaps focussing on a particular topic or structuring your time to cover a few things. Make realistic specific goals e.g. being able to read a newspaper article, or being able to ask about someone's family.
Bring inspiration for conversation with you. A news article, a video, or a photograph are all splendid sources of inspiration for you and your partner to chat around. Remember to bring these to the session rather than sending them beforehand (see point 1).
Remember to be friendly and courteous. Chatterbox partners are impressive individuals with professional experience spanning journalism, medicine, engineering, and academia. They are interested in sharing their language and culture with you, and won't take any nonsense.
Be on time.
We want to help you build up your confidence. Don't worry about mispronouncing, or sounding silly! Remember that your partner will have had similar experiences learning English. Try to speak as much as you can in the language, but it's fine to chat in English as well.
Ask you partner for suggestions. They can recommend great sources of information on language and culture such as online blogs, videos, and music, which you can immerse yourself in until your next class!